Make Allies and Win Together
Landon Boucher is the director of business design and innovations at MiTek Inc.
Off-Site Construction is a term that has become a bit of a buzzword (that’s putting it mildly). Everyone these days, seems to tout the same exasperated (albeit valid) talking points about being built in a factory-controlled environment, improved processes, sustainability, reduced on-site build cycle, labor etc.
What many fail to mention, unfortunately, is that none of this matters if we have the wrong people managing it all. It is not just about process or product. It’s about people. All three are needed to make building successful.
Too often, those of us in the off-site construction sector dismiss the incredible accomplishments of our on-site construction counterparts and the tradesmen and women that are the workforce behind this industry. It’s inaccurate to claim that not much has changed in the last 100 years in the way we build homes. The list of what has changed in the last 20 years alone is too long for this post. What has always amazed me about construction is the people. The people who build our homes, our communities, our world. It is the people who have developed improved processes and products and it is the people who must be relied upon to utilize them efficiently. Like all things with people, sometimes we do it well and sometimes we don’t. This reality exists just as much in off-site construction. I have seen many projects delayed, factories failed, and processes not followed. Every single time, I can point to the people as the key factor in derailing otherwise well thought out plans.
I do believe off-site construction can be the better solution. All things being equal (i.e., good process, product, and people), I believe off-site teams will outperform on-site teams every time. But we need to be honest with ourselves and our industry by acknowledging that many times things are not equal. I think we do a disservice to the advancement of off-site construction when we fail to recognize (and furthermore, proclaim) this truth.
In lieu of making claims about how “traditional construction” is outdated, slow, and prone to problems, how about we work together, create allies, and foster a relationship of collaboration? I see a lot of posts on social media and in industry presentations that contain side-by-side comparisons of off-site and on-site construction. One photo is a messy and disorganized project and the other is a clean, well-managed depiction of just-in-time delivery methods utilizing mods or panels. I don’t ever see anyone share the failures of their own respective side of this equation. As a consultant for many years to contractors, engineers, and manufacturers, I’ve seen the failures and successes of both. I’ve seen them up close. Some I’ve even been responsible for, at least on some level.
It is my hope that we will see further progress in continuous improvement of construction by letting down our guards and engaging in collaborative efforts where we can share best practices and lessons learned based on our own direct experiences. A rising tide will raise all ships.
Let’s be authentic in our communications and win together.
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