Why do we still have 6 hour long Owner/Architect/Contractor (OAC) meetings? In these meetings we review progress on the job and leave with a grab bag of action items. We preach technology and BIM, yet with all the tools and tracking, many superintendents and foremen spend more time documenting daily activities than actively managing them. Not only is this inefficient, its absolutely aggravating.In the last article, I talked about agile in the software industry, and in this one, I'll discuss how construction is different.

In the submittal process, we know we can't anticipate all the problems that will arise among trades, but we do have a process for anticipating where they will occur and how to deal with them. If you think about it, the submittal process is essentially a systematized way of ensuring that the right people have the right conversations ahead of time because we anticipate change.

In the field, the pathways to connect us to the right data and people are broken. Even our innovative BIM coordination tools have shaky processes for tracking changes and resolving clashes. We may not know that the concrete will cure in 29 days or that the tin-knockers are a few hours ahead, but we may know which teams need to have which conversations at which handoffs, rooms, or areas, and we should have a way of tracking those exchanges.

The really good supers can do this because they've gotten good at prioritizing important issues and chasing people down on site. They have developed a spidey-sense of where the problems lie and when they have to check on things. So the only way to be a great super is to be a superhero? Well, even spiderman has a way of capturing important things with his web.

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So again, why do we still have 6 hour long Owner/Architect/Contractor (OAC) meetings? And why is it so hard to adapt to project changes? The reason is that we specify our tight schedules years ahead of time (the waterfall method) and we expect them to hold true for our unique project without complication. If that were true, we wouldn't need change orders or RFIs!

The waterfall method has major implications on the way we work. This method assumes that this building is like the last one, and does not allow us to account for unique circumstances without immediately having impact on cost, schedule, or quality. It also emphasizes dependencies that create blockers, and even gives them fancy names, like the Critical Path Method (CPM). Finally, when communication does happen, it's strained by a tendency to throw items over the wall, rather than truly collaborate toward a common goal.

In short, the agile method encourages adaptation, removes dependencies and blockers, and enables collaboration, all items that cause us trouble with the CPM methods we've employed today. So what should we be doing to make sure we're progressing smoothly? Enter agile construction.

If this was helpful, make sure to take a look at our construction app.

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