Developing a Culture of Trust
Woodward project partners discuss working together and how to achieve Integrated Project Delivery on projects.
Woodward Inc., one of the largest global manufacturers of control systems for the aerospace and industrial markets, loves buzzwords like ‘collaborative’ and ‘IPD-like’ because the terms stop becoming clichés when they become successful project realities. Such is the case with Woodward’s headquarters campus project, which will ultimately include the world’s only industrial turbomachinery systems (ITS) project of its kind. The organization and its project partners, Mortenson Construction and design firm Ghafari Associates, have cultivated a collaborative culture of trust that the teams credit for producing appreciable results on this unique and complex endeavor.
Vulnerability among the teams would be a shift in mindset for the previously unacquainted and disparate project teams. The exposure that accompanies allowing new partners into highly specialized processes and tools could be daunting. According to Chris Boal, Integrated Construction Manager at Mortenson, “We and the owner were in the designer’s active model space. We were seeing their live everyday activity and things they were trying out. It was a little uncomfortable for us in the beginning, but the benefit totally outweighed the growing pains.”
Getting to a state of true digital delivery for maximum effectiveness would also be difficult. “Even if you have exports out of the model, you still have drawing reviews, permit packages, and so forth. You still need a PDF environment. We were able to refine our process, get into a lot of new tools, and truly become paperless in our delivery methodology. It was challenging from a training and technology standpoint, but the rewards really pay off,” explains Ghafari’s Senior Project Manager, Matt Kraft.
The Woodward Campus team seeks out project partners with similar philosophies and process priorities. For Mortenson, Woodward and Ghafari, lean processes, methodologies and tools are common philosophical denominators. Each partner prioritizes using efficiency tools and makes decisions based on the same lean foundation.
Starting early has also been critical to the team’s effectiveness. Bringing partners in sooner and starting cross-company technology training at project onset have allowed teams to efficiently communicate information along the way. Kraft agrees: “When you’re looking at an integrated team and focusing on collaboration and communication, you really have to start getting that team on board early. Getting that build site and supply chain input into the design and engineering process much earlier than has typically happened over the years is critical.”
“Get to know each other, learn about one another’s successes and goals,” advises Boal. The initial discussions enabled all parties to internalize the expectations, successes and goals of each partner to create universal team expectations, successes and goals.
The culture of trust among the Woodward project partners enables an optimized flow of information by breaking down the traditional, and often separate, spheres of data collection, decision-making and work. With communication guidelines and platforms established upfront and effectively implemented across the project teams, partners move quickly in response to the owner and each other. The number of submittals and RFIs, for example—not to mention, risk—is significantly reduced by reviewing the same data at the same time on a recurring basis with non-linear, collective real-time review processes in platforms such as Bluebeam Studio.
The front-end investment in building trust and cross-company technology training leads to successful implementation and allows project teams to focus on optimizing how people can leverage the technology. For example, Mortenson taught the Woodward team how to view and work within the live model. This knowledge has enabled the Woodward team to make plans for the facilities management phase, in which they will employ their newfound skills and tools, such as accessing and manipulating the model, to more effectively manage their new building.
A culture of trust is demonstrated when crucial information is shared among stakeholders quickly and more accurately. Project partners will support innovation, new technologies and new processes through cross-company VDC trainings. Lean processes will thrive, and teams will gain momentum from the successful implementation of these processes. Workflows that affect all project partners, such as drawing reviews, will occur simultaneously and interactively. And all stakeholders will have access to, and work within, a cloud-based, active-model-sharing environment.