Leaders trying to create collaborative cultures tend to focus on instilling the right values or designing the right space. They tend to overlook the fact that collaboration requires certain skills. – Francesca Gino, Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration, Harvard Business Review
by Nancy Greenwald
For more than 44 years, the mission of the Construction Institute has been to promote cross industry collaboration among the professions and people who design, construct, and operate the buildings in which we live and work and the infrastructure that connects us. The institute’s leaders and members represent the diversity of professions that participate in the industry.
Moving into the next decade, we see two trends gaining importance in our industry. The first is that experience is leaving the profession as the boomer generation retires. The recession a decade ago effectively wiped out a generation of potential leaders, who left looking for greener economic pastures. The generation entering the professions has solid technical training and in general a greater familiarity and comfort level with technology. Unfortunately, the mentors who once helped them make the connection between their education and the day-to-day realities of their profession are becoming a scarce commodity. The second trend is a recognition that collaboration is not just a value to which a person or organization aspires. Collaboration is achieved by learning and practicing a set of skills, and those skills should be learned by everyone.
Education and training are the core of the institute’s mission, and its signature programs and professional education workshops are at the epicenter of these trends. In 2018, the institute introduced the region’s first AEC leadership conference, which offered a day of skills training in subjects like Listening Like a Leader, How to Create Systems that Allow for Change, and Leading Across Silos. These collaboration-based trainings continued with the 2019 AEC Leadership Conference and the Leadership Workshop Series, an ongoing series that includes topics like “Becoming a Problem Solver – Dealing with Conflict as a Normal Part of Business.” The institute’s ongoing project, Protocols for Best Practices in Project Communication, will provide a communication “tool belt” with proven methods that can be utilized by any project participant internally as well as with external partners in a construction project to enhance project success and avoid conflict and project failure.
This winter and spring, collaboration and innovation will be front and center at the 5th Annual Women Who Build Summit, an award-winning program. Each year, we bring together the best minds in the industry – both women and men – to create an event that inspires, promotes leadership, builds connections, develops skills and fosters innovative thinking among, and in support of, a diverse group of professionals. Joining us Feb. 19-20 at UMass Amherst for this year’s program is an impressive group of national and international industry leaders.
Future trends are the focus of the institute’s annual Visionaries Forum, now entering its 11th year. The Visionaries Forum celebrates innovation during an event that draws together pioneers who are shaping the future of design, construction, and management of the AEC industry. This year’s program is scheduled for April 30 at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.
The professional education and certificate programs offered by the Construction Institute speak to the second trend, with instructors who are practicing professionals infusing years of experience into the courses offered. In addition to valuable skills training, they provide the mentoring that can fill the gap left by retiring boomers. The multidisciplinary character of the class participants facilitates the collaborative approach of the classes. The institute’s workshops are recognized with credits accepted by other organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Construction Managers Association of America (CMAA), and the Project Managers Institute (PMI).
The Construction Institute is a vibrant and growing community of leaders. We invite you to join us.
Nancy Greenwald is executive director at the Construction Institute.