Is there a better analogy to Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) than a boat race across a river? Perhaps, but it’s the one that seems most fitting to me. If normal construction is a boat race to the other side of the river, then each trade, consultant, owner and contractor gets their own boat in the race. The boats could range from canoe to speed boat and anywhere in between. As the race progresses, some boats might run into mechanical problems, some might lose an oar, some might run out of gas … and some, just zoom to the other side with no problems. When all of the boats are on the other side, the race (or project) is complete.
On many projects, this ‘boat race’ goes fine. The trades finish their work as planned, on time and on budget. However, some projects do not go quite as planned. With the team on a traditional project focused on getting to the other side to win the race, they are less likely to notice the guy who lost his oar and is struggling, or the guy who ran out of gas, or the guy who is sinking. Your mission, in traditional construction, is to finish your work and get out — get to the other side and finish your race.
IPD is like a sweep rowing boat (an 8 person row boat) and the IPD contract forms a virtual rowing team. We put our chosen team in the same boat. Everyone has an oar and everyone has to paddle, more importantly, everyone has to paddle together or the team doesn’t get anywhere. In this case, if someone loses an oar, we still have seven more. If there is a hole in the boat, we all have to figure out how to fix it because everyone goes down if we don’t. Indeed, rowing together is not easy. It takes time, practice and a ton of effort. There is no motor, only our own strength. But when we reach the other side together, there will be a high level of satisfaction akin to finishing anything that is difficult. The process will hopefully be more enjoyable and satisfying because we really worked as a team. The finished product will reflect that teamwork and effort.
So far, I’m liking the row boat race. It’s not easy, but it is fun. I ‘m excited to see the building that comes out the other side of collaboration.