The 7 Principles of Effective Construction Partnering : Many organizations and industry associations now endorse construction partnering and as a result, conducting partnering sessions have become a standard practice for many projects. Large construction projects are complex – there is more at stake, more players, representing more diverse backgrounds, more information along with new technologies that have dramatically changed both the speed and the methodology of our work. Effective partnering from the very beginning is the key to success; to ensure that projects are of outstanding quality, delivered on time, on budget and with maximum collaboration and minimum conflict.
But, effective partnering is more than just showing up for the preconstruction partnering session at the beginning of a project. It requires a different approach and mindset through the life cycle of the project.
How good is your partnering? Use the following seven principles of partnering as a checklist to hold yourself and your team accountable to being a better partner.
1. Commit to partnering. Before you can partner effectively, your project team needs to fully commit to a partnering approach. Assess your organization’s partnering capability and address any gaps. Bring the project team together and discuss why you need to partner and with whom. Review past experiences of partnering and decide how you can improve your approach. Partnering will not happen just because you think it’s a good idea. Your entire team needs to be committed to the concept and its process. It is important that the team learns and understands the partnering skills necessary to be effective.
2. Commit to achieving mutual project goals. Before the first shovels break ground, make sure that you have defined mutual project goals, success metrics and have a clear understanding of how you will work (and work well) together. These initial agreements may change during the course of the project, but it’s critical to ensure that your partnership is based on real understanding – not false assumptions. When everyone on the team has a shared understanding and commitment to the key goals of the project, then these goals are much more likely to be accomplished.
3. Ensure early, broad and deep involvement. One mistake that shows up often is to keep the partnering responsibility confined to just one or two individuals. For your team to derive all the benefits of partnering, your relationships need to be at all levels and begin very early in the life of a project. There should be broad responsibility for creating and maintaining a successful partnering culture. This will build a better understanding among partners, improve information sharing and potentially identify other opportunities for future partnering.
4. Define clear rules of engagement. To work together effectively, teams need to have a consistent understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each team member and a clear definition of how to work together. Blurred responsibilities can lead to power struggles, conflict, duplicated effort or gaping holes. The way to gain velocity is to be clear about what you want to achieve and who is going to do it.
5. Encourage open and honest communication. Good communication is the foundation of partnering. Good communications means that there are no hidden alliances, no subterranean conflicts and no big surprises on the project. There will be differences in your partnership – risks, expectations, processes, culture, priorities, and personalities. Success will depend on your ability to listen to each other, be aware and respect differences, accept the things you cannot change and focus on where there are winning value propositions for all sides.
6. Follow up and measure progress. Partnering should be an important component of regular project meetings. Use these meetings to check in on partnering concerns, ideas and the progress of the partnership. Consider what is working in the partnership and what is not. Check your progress against mutual goals and metrics. Learn from your successes and mistakes. Taking time to acknowledge your successes on a regular basis is a great way to refuel your partnership.
7. Commit to working together and avoiding the blame game. Problems are inevitable on a complex project, and it is rare that any one individual or one company is entirely responsible when things go wrong. It is easy to get caught up in conflict and in “winning,” and as a consequence not get the issue resolved and end up damaging your relationships. Shift your thinking from blame to healthy curiosity. Blame is about judging, curiosity is about understanding the problem at depth to get a clear picture of what the real issues are.
By Doris Kovic, Partnering Facilitator. Blue Cove Partnering.
Blue Cove Partnering helps client teams initiate large scale construction projects with our innovative partnering. This process sets a firm foundation for high performance collaboration, realizing extraordinary results – remarkable projects, created by teams truly committed to working well together.
More information on our services is available at our website. http://www.bluecovepartnering.com.