11 September 2019

Creativity in
Construction Management

By: Derek Sullivan, Assistant Project Manager

Most people in the Construction/Real Estate Industry do not typically associate the role of a Project Manager with the need for a lot of creativity. They typically associate this job with technical skills; budgeting, scheduling and overall project organization. Although those skills are most definitely necessary, creativity is also an important aspect of construction. When a General Contractor and a Designer can effectively communicate and understand each other’s perspective, the job goes significantly smoother and better relationships are fostered. Moreover, the combination of technical skills and creativity can lead to creative and more long-term problem solving.

Understanding the Design

Embracing the creativity of a project allows you to stay connected to the project. This connection reinforces your ownership of the process, resulting in a better end results for the client. By understanding the intent, you can stay a step ahead of the architect and discern what issues will matter most to them. Additionally, comprehension of the finishes of a project can be helpful when a certain material poses a lead time issue. You can use your design sense to help move the process along faster by suggesting a replacement.

Problem Solving Tools

Skills in drawing and sketching can help when a site issue needs to be expressed in a drawing rather than words (this is a skill that I am still working on myself). This skill can help you speak the same language as your designer. Mitigating this language barrier can help solve problems faster, just like mitigating any other language barrier would.

Dedication to the design as a contractor also earns respect from the designer you are working with. Demonstrating that dedication can help in leaps and bounds when issues arise, because you and the designer will have an established mutual respect that will allow you to collaborate on a solution. This one is extremely important. People just want to have their work respected, and as a contractor, if you can genuinely demonstrate that respect, you’re likely to receive it back. Respect begets respect.

Taking note of the way spaces are designed allows you to tap into your library of previous project knowledge to solve problems in the future. It’s about paying attention and asking yourself questions. “Where have I seen this design before?”, “How was it helpful? How was it not helpful?”, “How can I use my previous knowledge from similar projects to help me now?”

About the Author

Derek Sullivan is currently an Assistant Project Manager at Clune Construction in Chicago, IL. He graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology with a degree in Construction management and has previously worked in project management in Seattle and Boston. At Clune, he focuses on interior office build-outs and tenant improvements. In his spare time, he is taking Interior Design classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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