Legacy Backlash Solution: Integrated Design-Build

Posted on February 11, 2011

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Design-bid-build is the old guard.  Integrated design-build is the new guard. Everywhere the old ways of doing things are being tossed aside as businesses realize the Web, technology and media are changing all industries.

I was reading an article in Fast Company about the evolution of advertising, and how that industry has changed in light of the digital age. Everywhere companies are pushing out their ‘tried-and-true’ old guard contract relationships, ditching firms they had on retainer, firms that took them for granted. Legacy relationships are dead. People are looking for new blood, new ideas, firms with the new tools and approaches to meet the new challenges of their industry.  The old guard is not qualified for this new age.

The article is an extremely relevant piece because many of the points apply to today’s design and construction industries.

One of the parts I enjoyed most was a reference to writer and blogger Clay Shirky, who writes on the effects of the Internet on media. Clay has some interesting quotes on how systems evolve from simple to complex, until they eventually collapse due to their complexity—only to be rebirthed by a simple evolution that takes the concept in a new direction.  Mr. Shirky’s comments are a perfect analogy for the evolution of projects from design-bid-build to integrated design-build.

“…Complex societies collapse because when some stress comes, those societies have become too inflexible to respond…Collapse is simply the last remaining method of simplification…When the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.”

Now my edited version (additions in italics) to explain how integrated design-build is acting in the design and construction marketplace:

“…Complex project methods collapse because when economic stress comes, those methods have become too inflexible to respond…Collapse is simply the last remaining method of simplification…When the economy stops rewarding complexity like design-bid-build, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present through integrated design-build, rather than the people who mastered the traditional complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.”

In the end, nature favors simplicity. Simplicity can be replicated, controlled and understood. Suffice to say there are many ways integrated design-build is simple—contractually, managerially, risk management-wise, to name a few—and design-bid-build is complex. Keep tuning into this blog to learn how.

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Posted in: Design-Build