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Construction Curiosities #46
A Construction Manager's most valuable Superpower | The Haves and the Have-Nots
Hey! Happy Saturday! Matt here.
Welcome to the Construction Curiosities newsletter. Especially to all the 19 New Subscribers this week.
We continue to grow week after week due in large part to this awesome community spreading the word. If you are getting value from this Newsletter, I’d be most appreciative if you would share with 2-3 of your colleagues that you think would get equal value from.
This weekly Newsletter explores my Curiosities about the Construction Industry. It's meant to make you think, smile, and become a better, more well-informed Construction Professional.
This week we will look at:
One Musing: A CM’s Superpower
One Article: The Haves and Have-Nots
One Quote: Where the Puck has Been
One Meme: Lowe’s Lumber
A Construction manager’s most valuable superpower is the ability to see around corners.
I don’t mean literally like AI is doing with lasers. I’m talking about having the experience and knowledge to be able to see what’s coming to create chaos around the next “corner” and therefore being able to create a contingency plan and implement it fast.
Years ago, I left a niche civil-type subcontractor and went to work as a PM for a Mechanical and Plumbing subcontractor. I knew how to be a PM but didn’t know the trade. I would sit down each Monday morning with the director and chat. He would always ask what I was worried about on my project. Even though the project was going smoothly, my consistent response was I didn’t know, what I didn’t know and something was going to jump up and bite me.
It never did, thank goodness, but I realized there was a HUGE blind spot around that corner that I couldn’t see.
3 Types of Corners
Industry corners - This is what is happening in the industry. Supply chain, lead times, pricing increases, labor shortages, etc.
How to Develop the Superpower: Intentionally work to stay up to speed on the industry news and trends. Read market conditions reports. Talk to suppliers and Professional Groups such as AGC.
If you understand early that your Generator and Switchgear are going to take 72 weeks for delivery, you can create a contingency plan. Maybe that means the Owner purchases the equipment way early during the design phase and it becomes an Owner Furnished- Contractor Installed item, just to get a spot in the factory line.
Company corners - This is what is happening within your company. Maybe it is a bottleneck within the process of the company, or maybe it is politics. Maybe it is just predicting what your boss will need next.
How to Develop the Superpower: Pay close and intentional attention to the inner workings of your company. Notice where other projects slipped up within the processes.
If you see the contracts or purchasing manager creates a bottleneck in the startup of every project which ripples into slow submittals and delayed equipment orders, be proactive. Maybe see if you can step in and assist in the process or “walk” the contract through to ensure there are no hang ups.
If you see the company is struggling with something, become an expert in the area of increasing importance. (See last week’s musing for the 6 Ways to Take Control of Your Career Development)
Project corners - This is the in-the-field type of things. It’s the “every subcontractor does this wrong every time” or the “Owner usually is slow to act here.”
How to Develop the Superpower: This one takes a lot of experience and intuition. These are typically your lessons learned. If you don’t have a lot of experience. Be intentional in getting advice from someone who does. Maybe a mentor, maybe the old crusty superintendent, maybe the trade professionals.
If you know that they “always miss laying out and installing access doors for fire dampers.” Get ahead of that and start talking to the appropriate folks early. If there is a certain field coordination issue you see all the time, get ahead of it. These are great things to discuss in Pre-Install meetings.
With some time, experience, and intentionality you’ll be seeing around corners in no time.
I’d love to hear some feedback on this one. What other corners are there in the industry? What are some things you do to develop this Superpower?
“Construction starts continue to boom across the country, but economic headwinds soon could put a damper on the industry, according to Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Construction Network.
In fact, Branch said starts are ‘likely to erode’ as the year progresses due to heightened lending standards caused by banking uncertainty.”
“I’ll cycle back to the idea about the market becoming really bifurcated in 2023. As I look back on my career, this has the potential to be the most split market I’ve ever seen. Split not just in verticals, but split in terms of geography and areas where you’re seeing strong demographic growth.”
In your life and career, are you where the puck is or where it’s going?
Hope everyone has a great weekend and a productive next week!
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