Certainly, effective collaboration is key for today’s construction teams, but there are some barriers still standing in the way to true cross-functional communication and collaboration across the lifecycle of a project.

Enter extreme collaboration. The new concept, coined by Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., is more of a change in behaviors and process enabled by social networking and game play, rather than a traditional piece of technology or software for the construction industry. The change in mindset could be big though, as the industry is seeking out new ways to better align project stakeholders.

In particular, Gartner suggests CIOs and business managers will fail in efforts to improve business performance outcomes through BPM (business-process management) if they can’t overcome major barriers to collaboration first. The analyst firm suggests extreme collaboration, the new operating model that changes the way people communicate across wide organizational and geographic boundaries.

In order to move to this culture of extreme collaboration, Gartner identifies six best practices. First, Gartner suggest curbing face-to-face meetings and email and replacing to some degree with the use of virtual Web-based collaboration, which includes process collaboration environments and social networks. The objective is to get people collaborating in a virtual environment that is always on and always available.

Next, near realtime communication such as texting and tweeting can encourage collaborative behavior as well. In particular, this can address the common problem of information being constrained and delayed through formal communication channels that run up and down the organizational hierarchy.

Gartner also suggests using social media to brainstorm on a particular problem, change reward systems to encourage collaboration, and use SNA (social network analysis) to measure collaborative behavior of teams. Finally, it suggests group events to heighten collaboration, which includes using mobile-video tools, game play, and turning off email for a defined period of time.

For the construction industry, some of these suggestions could certainly apply—especially when looking at communication and collaboration across the chain of stakeholders. As the market conditions begin to improve, teams will certainly need to seek out new methods and technologies to enable greater collaboration on construction projects.