I remember in the mid-1980’s construction consultants hired to work on a litigation case would show up on a job site and take on adversarial roles that might include an arrogant attitude with some. This posture was probably based on a perception of what best represented their client’s perspective. “Nothing’s the matter. Why are we here?” for the Defense; and “This is a pile of …junk. Tear it down and rebuild it” for the Plaintiff.
Before Westcon, Communication Was Stifled
At the job site, settlement conferences, mediation or arbitration there would be animosity among the more agitated consultants, verbally sparring about what might be wrong and whose fault it was. Factual information was not voluntarily shared about the project. Communication was stifled. Each consultant was on his/her own to observe and to interpret the results of a site investigation or document review.
Westcon Created A Civil, Neutral Forum
Clay McCullough initiated the bold step to establish a common forum for consultants, whether plaintiff or defense; whether coming with construction experience or with a design background. The intent of Westcon origins was to foster a sense of civility among members, to present a neutral forum to meet away from the influence of clients. The idea of monthly meetings was to take advantage of the time-honored tradition of sharing meals among friends and creating an opportunity to diffuse tension among adversaries.
Westcon meetings were intended to be an opportunity to interact, find common ground and share project experiences. The Westcon meeting was a place to raise common issues, to hear feedback from colleagues and to foster professionalism for construction consultants. Those founding purposes of Westcon continue today.
Written by Founding Member Robert Bateman, originally published October 2012
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, “Construction Workers, Boston”