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Collaboration has become a buzzword in that lots of companies talk about it but few do it right. That's unfortunate—knowing how to collaborate is critical for today's builders, as a shrinking labor and management pool forces them to squeeze more productivity from fewer people. Those who do it well are rewarded with faster cycle times, higher profits and fewer problems with quality and cost management. Builders that fall short are penalized in each of those areas.

Much of our consulting work consists of helping builders create and manage collaborative efforts among and between employees, departments, technology companies, suppliers, subs and customers. As a result, I've learned what works and what doesn't.

This is the first in a series of articles about how to build a culture of collaboration that will help you solve business problems and build higher-quality homes for more profit. Before getting into the details, however, I need to start the same way I do with anything: by offering a couple of examples to help you understand what collaboration is and isn't.

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