Being Collaborative with Behaviours4Collaboration


A key message of BIM requires a more collaborative approach, but what does this mean in practice? The founder member of Behaviours4Collaboration, Elizabeth Kavanagh of Stride Treglown provides advice and an update on the progress being made

When I first got involved with BIM a few years ago, I realised that BIM enables an important change to our working relationships, with the aim to shift them from adversarial to collaborative. The Level 3 BIM strategy sets out how the government will achieve a collaborative industry through BIM (called Digital Built Britain), and it relies heavily on a shift in behaviours. I was pleased to be a part of the consultation done with the Level 3 strategy so Stride Treglown (Strides) had an input into this strategy.

I realised we would need to shift our emphasis more towards relationships and change our behaviours, so I did what most HR people would do and set out to describe the behaviours we needed. I recognised that it is not helpful for Strides to develop collaborative capabilities on our own as we all work in project teams – we can’t collaborate alone! I formed a team and gained some research funding to engage people with collaboration and set out on our first task to define collaborative behaviours. This group is now recognised as a BIM4 group and called Behaviours4Collaboration.

This group was set up to support the industry in the shift towards collaborative behaviours. Our first project is to define these collaborative behaviours into a Profession Map. The group Behaviours4Collaboration is made up of those who have actively developed this tool as a result of the analysis of collaboration in other sectors. The aim of this tool is to give individual teams and the industry guidance on the change required to establish the collaboration which will enable us to become an innovative industry we can be proud of.

We already have a number of live projects trialling the tool and buildingSMART International will shortly offer member testing which will enable us to refine the tool. Switzerland is leading the European testing through construction company Implenia Schweiz AG.

The Profession Map is being embedded within The Higher Education Academy Learning Outcomes framework so that future students of BIM are developed according to behaviours required for collaboration.

BIM Technologies have committed to embedding it into the BIM Excellence maturity assessment tool during 2017. This means that the industry assessment tool will refer to behaviours for collaboration as well as the technical requirements for BIM proficiency.

This tool will ultimately be developed into a British Standard hosted by BSi and tied in with the collaboration standards BS11000 for collaborative relationships.

The interest in this area has been huge, and the need for this guidance is clearly something industry has an appetite for. As a result, I have been invited to speak with Women in Property, the Oxford and Derby BIM regions along with Buro Happold, Hoare Lea, Turner and Townsend, Hydrock and Arup. These firms are looking to use this framework to develop their staff and to beta-test with their project teams.

I will also be engaging with wider industry through speaking engagements at the Construction Industry Summit on 21st September, The RIBA Smart Practice Conference: Future Forward on 22nd September and the Digital Construction Week panel event on 26th October.

Our first advice note

As a company committed to collaboration, Stride Treglown is delighted to offer our first collaboration advice note. It includes just a few tips that might help you to decide whether collaboration is appropriate and whether you have the setup and process in place to achieve your collaborative aims.

Are you sure it is collaboration you want?

We all use the word collaboration, but which of these definitions best reflects your aims?


  • Avoid gaps and overlap in team member’s work.


  • Obtain mutual benefit by sharing work.


  • Achieve results which could not be accomplished alone.

Collaboration has become talked about as a way of establishing innovation and achieving results which are quantitatively different to those achieved elsewhere. If you still think collaboration is for you, please read on.

Is this relationship suitable for collaboration?

Establishing collaboration relies on a longer term relationship which works on a framework or partnership basis rather than on a per-project or cost focussed basis. This is because of the long-term nature of the investment needed. If your project has a cost focus and short-term timescales, we would advise that a collaborative relationship is unsuitable.

How do I set up a collaboration?

Careful selection of your partner organisation and internal development of your team are both necessary to create the collaborative teams.

Our clients are a key part of the team. Therefore, the client body needs to ready itself for becoming an “intelligent client” which means role modelling the collaboration required by exhibiting these collaborative behaviours.

You may find this report useful in identifying and considering your own team’s capability (flick to page 70 for more on the behaviours of an intelligent client.)

In addition, it will be necessary to look at the forms of contract which lend themselves to collaboration. At present we think that PPC2000 or the JCT suite are the closest forms until such times as the new forms of contract promised by the BIM Task group are delivered.

What else do I need?

A team with different backgrounds and characteristics will bring a variety of perspectives and creates the thought diversity required for collaboration. A team leader who is highly capable of reconciling different perspectives is necessary to ensure that all ideas are valued, and the team moves forwards. It is also helpful to consider whether using the BS11000 collaboration standard mentioned earlier could support your aims.

How do I choose a collaborative team?

For collaborative projects being undertaken within infrastructure, at present, those looking to collaborate are choosing their partners using behavioural assessment. They are weighting these assessments at between 25-75% of the scoring being allocated for demonstrating collaborative behaviours with as little as 10% for cost.

How do I maintain collaboration?

Carefully focussing on the relationship is required and this is something that the BS11000 framework encourages through the use of a behavioural charter which is essentially a set of things we agree to do which is revisited regularly. Surfacing and dealing with the inevitable conflicts is done early to ensure that the relationship flourishes, rather than withers through neglect.

If you would like to hear more about collaboration you may be interested in our collaboration conference or to develop collaboration within your relationships, please get in touch.

Our partners will be helping us to develop and refine this free to use Profession Map tool, and you are welcome to become a part of this. ■

For more information, please follow this link:

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Elizabeth Kavanagh

Head of HR, Research and Innovation

Stride Treglown Ltd.

Twitter @Beh4Coll


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