We need our major infrastructure projects to succeed. No government, taxpayer or private company wants to see huge overspending and extreme delays – and yet that is what is happening across many of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects today.
As project delivery specialists, we have to take a long, hard look at the reasons why this is still happening. We know things move slowly where big projects are concerned, but it is still shocking to see how many project owners and contractors are blind to the proven benefits of working together rather than in aggressive, blame-gaming silos.
Every project team we have worked with for the past 30 years has benefitted from a collaborative approach. Once they see it in action, they don’t go back – in fact, they embed collaborative behaviours into their subsequent projects, because they know that it not only drives a more harmonious project, but also delivers significant time and cost savings.
If you’re tired of the project getting in the way of doing things well, fed up with managing poor behaviours or want to make sure you start your next project on the right foot, there are three areas you need to work on:
No major project is without conflict, and there is often a need for it in order to drive innovation and new ways of thinking. Manging conflict in this context starts with agreeing and committing to a set of project behaviours, to which every participant is held. Those behaviours are monitored and reviewed to ensure that both individual and organisational relationships and performance improves. It’s surprising how just this seemingly simple change can help to channel conflict in the right direction – and it’s because committed behaviours shape the way that any issues are handled.
Traditionally, projects are full of people who have been schooled to bullishly protect the interests of their own company at all costs. This inevitably leads to the ‘blame game’ and constant confrontation between groups of people who are supposed to be working together for the greater good of the project. Protecting interests is fine as long as it delivers a positive value to the customer or taxpayer. When it doesn’t, it’s time for collaboration to play its part. Project risks should be apportioned on the basis of the ability to manage and reduce them – so who is best to manage each risk, and what’s their reward for doing it well? Confrontation needs to be de-personalised, managed by a proper process and the right personal behaviours and channelled towards getting outputs and solutions rather than just adding to the vortex of negativity that projects can develop.
One of the key mistakes that people make when collaborating is that they assume it is all about being nice to everyone. By thinking this way, people often go out of their way to avoid confrontation, and just end up pretending everything is going well instead of dealing honestly with issues. Collaboration is not about being ‘nice’; it’s about having respectful, robust discussions that lead to better project outcomes.
Confusion often arises because people are not clear on what the aligned objectives of the project are. Misconceptions about people’s intentions results in a misalignment of actions and the perception that you are not fully in the picture. Without clear definitions and an understanding of the concerns, expectations and responsibilities of all the parties involved, confusion is the most likely outcome, and that in turn sows the seeds for confrontation and conflict.
It’s about doing rather than talking. It requires people to makes decisions, face up to and call out ambiguity of responsibility and accountability. It’s a process which addresses the fundamental issues of trust and risk taking and goes deeper into the supply chain to enable each team member to feel part of the bigger movement.Why not watch our short video on collaboration and how it can help your project?
For More Information Contact:
JCP Press Office on: 01252 711025
JCP Website: http://www.jcpconsultancy.com
Notes to Editor:
JCP Consultancy Ltd was born out of John Carlisle Partnerships in 2002 with original board members and shareholders being: David Curtis, David Maxwell, Diarmid de Burgh Milne, Malcolm Newman and Simon Vaughan. Over the coming years both David Curtis and Malcolm retired from the business and in 2014 Diarmid left JCP to pursue new opportunities. For more information on the JCP board members and the company associates, click here.
JCP specialises in helping major clients, contractors and their supply chains realise the benefits of reduced cost, speedier delivery, increased profit and improved relationships from working collaboratively with each other. They have a 91% success rate in helping clients win work. The company has worked with leading names including Network Rail, National Grid, Highways Agency, Welsh Water, London Underground and Thames Water and with Central Government including DfT, BIS, and HMT Infrastructure UK.