Finding Real Value in Collaboration


Written by Todd Duwel

True collaboration occurs when owners, design professionals and contractors actively, meaningfully and consistently communicate with one another to ensure that project expectations align with anticipated design services and construction.

Contract documents can get us only so far. During the blur of any complex delivery, stakeholders can easily forget the original concepts that first brought them together. All too often, they lose the bounce in their step from when they first learned that their vision would soon become reality.

Human nature is real, but it is seldom accounted for or anticipated in any project plan or industry software. Our shared success depends on understanding and accommodating behaviors that absolutely will manifest throughout every single project. No set of contract documents can ever predict the individual ways we roll out of bed each day.

Differentiating collaboration occurs when project stakeholders’ communication predicts and intends to reconcile observed conflicts about information, documents, schedule or project understanding. We fail the project, and one another, when a stakeholder observes a gap, recognizes its impact, and yet elects to shield that knowledge for the benefit of a personal or business interest rather than expose it for the project’s success.

Begin with a common, shared vocabulary and ask questions regularly. Be vulnerable while being confident and controlled. It is critical to confirm this ability up front and assure that going forward, all parties understand the alphabet soup that is design and construction.



Todd Duwel

As Woolpert’s Building Sector Leader, Todd Duwel advances the built environment through informed, integrated design and proven programmatic strategies. He empowers his multidisciplinary AEG team to listen, collaborate and provide industry expertise to solves owners’ challenges, deliver exceptional service and aligns outcomes with dynamic, curious discussions.

Look for more of Todd’s observations on risk management in the months to come.

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