3 Invaluable Lessons from Stuart Seiden

  1. When selecting project teams, it is crucial to see how the team works together to solve problems.
  2. During the selection process, it is important to see how project teams communicate within their team and within their own companies.
  3. The need for specification writers is a growing trend in the construction industry.

This week, host Sue Dyer speaks with Stuart Seiden, who is a Principal at Avila & Seiden Architects.  For about 17 years he was Capital Projects Manager in the County of Fresno.  Stuart has a vast knowledge from a variety of projects and you won’t want to miss his insight on the process of building a collaborative team.

Stuart’s Background and Career Journey  (01:28)

Stuart’s journey involved numerous events involving collaboration beginning when Stuart was four-years-old.  His brother was born developmentally disabled and that inspired his collaborative nature of helping in the learning process with his brother.  In college, he was intrigued by all the disciplines within the construction industry.  He and his wife had diverse backgrounds and had to learn to meld those aspects.  He has worked in a number of different industries over the years, each having informed his skill-set and knowledge for a variety of projects.

An Overview of Stuart’s Collaborative Selection Approach  (09:35)

  1. They changed the format of the interviews (no electronic presentations).
  2. The day-to-day Project Lead gives the presentation.
  3. They banned the marketing team from participating in the presentation except as observers.
  4. They held three problem-solving sessions, that lasted about 20 minutes each, led by day-to-day lead.
  5. The evaluated how the presenters interacted by observation.

How Was the Collaborative Process Different from the Typical Process?  (14:04)

A typical process is a regurgitation of what was provided in their proposal (project pictures, qualifications, how they are nice people), but didn’t show who had the ability to use their creative knowledge for the particular project.

The Evaluation Criteria  (15:15)

  1. Weighted the team on scenarios.
  2. Asking further questions.
  3. Fifteen-minute wrap-up.

Results of the Evaluation Process  (16:44)

  1. Easier to determine the knowledge base of the teams.
  2. Able to see their level of communication.
  3. Communication with their sub-contractors.
  4. Could see creative problem-solving skills.
  5. They picked a higher performing team.

Advice to Owners for Using the Scenario Approach (19:18)

  1. Problem-Solving needs to be difficult enough to obtain meaningful dialogue, but simple enough for the time-frame.
  2. Make sure you have proper objectives for the results you want.

Trends in Construction Specifications (21:30)

  1. Need for more involvement of architects from the beginning of projects.
  2. A trend toward more technically complex structures and materials.
  3. Greater need for specification writers.

Advice for Engaging Specification Writers (23:31)

“Rely on them and get them involved early on in the project, so they can provide advice in a timely manner.”  They need to be a continuing member of the team.

Stuart’s Greatest Career Challenge and Learning Opportunity (24:45)

The worst moment was on a project moving a 911 system.  There was a major problem with payments to the sub-contractors.  Stuart learned that a partner on the project was diverting funds from the project for personal use.

The Very Best Advice Stuart Has Ever Received (29:22)

You really shouldn’t put your nose in someone’s business unless you know all sides of the story.

Resources for Listeners

Contact Stuart

Contact Stuart on LinkedIn

Stuart’s Parting Advice (33:18)

From the Leadership Freak Website:

  • Don’t wait to feel humble to practice humility.  
  • Seek the best in others. 
  • Avoid presenting a false or inflated appearance.  
  • Work to understand and promote the goals of others. 
  • Explore how personal strengths, experience, and values might be useful to others.  
  • Risk being more authentic.

Construction Nation! Dream Teams don’t just happen they are built one step at a time. Why not send out this episode to your team, so they can help you.  Remember…Construction Dream Team drops every Monday morning at 4 am PST. Please join us next week when Sue will interview another industry leader or expert so you can learn how to create your Construction Dream Team!

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