Skip to main content

What the Trillion Dollar Construction Industry can teach you about your processes and systems

We take an intimate look at how the stages of building a building can shed light on how you do everything from planning meals, to building your own businesses.
structure-sky-building-construction-factory-industry

The construction industry does trillions of dollars of business a year ... do you think we can learn anything from them?

Studying the general process the construction industry uses helps you out in a few ways. First, it helps clarify the different stages and phases of ANY project. Because the projects are large and complex, each phase has it's own role or job. That these roles exist can help us tease out the differences between the phases instead of grouping them together. By having a greater refinement in our thinking, we can clarify and focus on things at the right time and in the right order.

Besides learning to specify the different phases, we can also use these distinctions to apply to our own projects and processes. Their process is a template for building anything, not just buildings. Looking at how each of the stages and phases can help us see the different stages and phases of our own projects, products, and processes.

The construction industry builds more buildings and delivers more projects than you build processes and projects in your business. Their meta-process governs all the stages and phases of their projects. They call the different versions a "project delivery method".

This method covers the three main phases of building a building. It's appropriately called "Design, Build, Operate" which covers everything from the design of a building, building it, and handing it off to the owners and operators.

Design - designing the end product

This phase covers the owner figuring out what kind of project they want to build. It may be residential rehab, it may be building a new development in the suburbs, or creating a commercial or industrial corridor. They may be the Designer themselves or they may hire one to talk out what they do and don't want. When they finalize the details of their design requirements, they go looking for spaces to build their building, and for someone to make blueprints for what they want.

Sometimes the parts of this go in a different order. A person may have an existing building they want to rehab. Someone may find a site that they think is great for a type of property. Or someone might have designed a building and are looking for someone to buy and build it. Whichever way it goes, all of this happens in the same general stage.

But for our example, the owner/designer works with a surveyor to figure out what a particular parcel of land needs to be able to house their project. Sometimes they need to get a new type of zoning, permits, and connection to municipal services. These all make sure that what the architect designs stands up on the ground, and in zoning approval meetings. The architect comes up with a floorplan, a facade, and blueprints on how to build the building.

Build - creating the system

In the build phase, the owner takes the outputs from the surveyor and the architect and engages an engineer to make those blueprints into actual schematics. The Architectural Engineer creates list of materials needed, machinery needed, and specifies how things not only need to look, but how those things are built.

When the engineer completes their specs, they pass that information to a Construction Manager, who, obviously, manages the construction. This person is in charge of buying the supplies and shipping them to the site at the right time, in the right quantity. You don't want your wood studs sitting out in the weather for months while the concrete pours and gets cured, so they may even have a warehouse. Construction managers feed this information to the General Contractor who is in charge of hiring and scheduling the actual people to do the actual work.

 Next we have the handoff, when the construction is done, if the owner has sold or aims to sell the building, there are a few final phases before the property is occupied and in use.

Operate - running the show

Ugly buildings suck, and so do ugly decorations. So building owners and tenants hire Interior Designers to hope to give the interior of a building a particular feel. They pick out woods, lighting, wallpaper, tile, and other things that aren't part of what holds the building up, but is how people experience the structure and layout of the building. 

Once the interior designer has the lighting in, the walls painted, and the floors swept, the Movers come in to bring in the furniture, the files, and the folks' stuff. Once that happens, the building owner transfers property management responsibility to the property manager, hands over the keys, and then the people can walk into the building every day.

That's a lot!

I know. Building a building is no easy feat. Neither is building a business, making a website, or cooking a dinner. Each of these has the same general stages and phases. What kind of food do you want and what are your nutrition goals happens in the design stage of your meal planning. Whether you use Drupal, Java, or plain HTML/CSS to build your website happens in the build phases of making a website. And sending invoices, receiving payments, shipping boxes, and delivering services happen in the operate phase of building a business.

If this makes sense, and you want to learn how to use this process to build and improve everything you do, check out my course bundle.

Difficult conversations may be scarier than public speaking.
We give you on-the-ground tips to making sure you document your business processes so you can refer back to them, use them constantly, and hand them off to others.
Procrastination, everyone's favorite bogeyman isn't the villain. Learn what really holds you back and what to do about it.