Are We Productive Yet?

The message was clear.

The way we – as a profession and industry – were going about things was self-destructive and unproductive.

It wasn’t working. Not for us and not for owners. Something had to be done.

Enter BIM and Integrated Design

Together BIM (Building Information Modeling) and IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) would save the day.

No longer would construction be the lone industry to not see any increase in productivity over the past 40 years.

Our troubles would be behind us.

Together this dynamic duo would optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste and cost, shorten project schedules, improve working relationships and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction.

Together, cost overruns would be overcome; delays and late changes would be history.

Or so the thinking goes.

Where are we headed?

Take a look at the above chart.

The orange line indicates construction productivity.

The blue line, the one edging upward, is everybody else.

If you look closely, the above chart takes us through 2004. Maybe 2006.

That’s roughly around the time IPD was first being discussed and soon introduced as a full-fledged delivery option.

We’re in need of a new chart – to see if BIM and IPD together are working.

Are making us more productive.

If all works as planned, the next release of this chart will look something like thisBut we know these things take time.

We hear every day even if we were to turn on a dime and change our wasteful, harmful habits that global warming would take decades before we saw improvement.

It’s a bit like unemployment where we need to create jobs just to stay even.

Where even if we were to create 90,000 jobs per month that we would just break even and see no decrease in the current unemployment rate.

So why should we expect to see any improvement in the years since this chart was issued?

Because we started to work with BIM?

Because we have the first evidence of teams working with some success in Integrated Design?No one believes things will take a sudden turn for the worse.

This is not even an option.

We will all be shocked and dismayed should the next release of this chart show that despite our changes and intentions and best efforts that things have started to go south


Has our industry flat-lined?

While we need to be patient to see results and an improvement there is still much we can be doing.

Unless we want to see our productivity remain flat well into a fifth decade, and accept the consequences, we will have to change.

100% adoption and implementation across the industry of BIM tools and work processes.We need to move swiftly and expertly up the D ladder – using BIM not only for the low hanging fruit of coordination but working collaboratively, to reap the real benefits of using these tools on integrated teams.

And most importantly, we need to do this together.


We need to work for the project – not for our own private gain.

With the faith, belief, understanding and irony that when you work for the project, all gain.

We need to commit to making our teammates successful and look good and believe that by doing so we will look good as well.

We need to give up our self-regard when it comes at the expense of the team and the owner’s goals.The project comes first.

We will not suffer any consequences if we maintain this as our mantra heading into the foreseeable future, one blessed with increasing workloads, design and construction opportunities.

Uppermost graph courtesy of Paul Teicholz, founding Director, Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, Stanford University


Filed under BIM, collaboration, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Are We Productive Yet?

  1. BT

    You really need to remember that building codes & standards have become immeasurably more complex over this time frame. I’m surprised the graph isn’t point down more steeply.

    I’ve worked for Architects who remember (from the 70’s) when they used to do a project for a 1-story commercial building (in silicon valley) with 1 plan. Plan combined site, floor, roof and structure on one sheet. There is some serious productivity.

    BIM may only drive more complexity into the process from what I have seen. CAD facilitated a lot of complexity in documentation. People can’t stop themselves from asking for more details, more data, more proofs of performance, more codes to comply with, BIM may be worse.

  2. Randy,
    Excellent insights as usual. I think about our collective efficiency nearly everyday. It’s a very basic problem some ways.. we, the creators of designs for buildings need to get the many people involved in building construction to completely understand our ideas with incredible speed and precision. BIM will (very gradually) transform this communication process. I see one huge step that must occur for progress to be realized – The contractural deliverable must evolve. Today, we are forcing BIM tools to produce conventional 2 dimensional drawings. They do it quite well; you can make beautiful drawings in revit that take advantage of the live data, 3d views and efficient coordination tools. However, what if we were to COMPLETELY redesign the deliverable as the most efficient and effective means of communicating design with the tools available? What would it look like? I began thinking about this in a post on my site here:

    We all need to think a great deal more about more effective ways to communicate our ideas. I look forward to discussing this more.

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