Infrastructure Collaboration – A Route to Success

Infrastructure Collaboration – A Route to Success

Event partner and Keynote speaker at the Rail Forum’s Infrastructure Collaboration event

 

The Rail Forum's Infrastructure Collaboration event

 

Collaboration is a major buzzword in project delivery – and reasonably so, as more people recognise that it’s a key component of success. The challenge for many of us, is what does it look like in practice?

At ResoLex, we embed collaborative environments to deliver better outcomes on major projects. Our approach helps teams and project leaders manage the complexity of large-scale projects using a combination of behavioural theory, technology and industry experience to co-create new solutions to old problems.

The Rail Forum‘s ‘Infrastructure Collaboration – A Route to Success’ event aims to explore what collaboration means, and what it might look like in the rail infrastructure environment. With a topic so close to our hearts, we’re super excited to be an event partner and are delighted to share our experience and the industry insight we’ve built over the last 20 years with you all.

 

 

If you’re thinking of coming, we’d be delighted to see you! If you haven’t registered yet, you can use the link below:

https://www.railforum.uk/events/infrastructure-collaboration-a-route-to-success/

Meet our new Director, Margaret Kalaugher!

Meet our new Director, Margaret Kalaugher!

You may have seen our latest news in the quarterly update but in case you missed it… we are delighted to welcome Margaret Kalaugher to our team!

Margaret Kalaugher

Margaret, also known as Mags, has joined us with a whole host of experiences, all with the common aim to create cohesion within complex environments. She has joined us from  Nichols Group where she worked with the Houses of Parliament Restoration & Renewal Programme, Towns Fund and Sellafield.  She has also worked at the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. We’re really excited to have Mags on board, her passion for people and outside thinking approach will be a great addition to the way we support teams engaged in major projects.

We thought we’d let you get to know her a little more – so, we asked her a few super important questions:

 

What excited you about the role?

I am naturally drawn to standing in the middle of big complex problems and projects – working with people to help them connect with others and collectively navigate through difficult situations that often hinder project performance. Finding an organisation which does exactly that; adding value to project delivery through a holistic approach to building and sustaining successful project teams, was the perfect match!

I am excited to be able to share ideas and understanding with like-minded colleagues. In my first hour, we were turning collaborative strengths into superhero powers, but we’ll leave that story for another day!

What is your biggest achievement with a team/person/project?

In a previous role, I worked in the background to connect people from different disciplines across a programme. I helped the organisation shape a healthy environment that provided space and support to the humans (their colleagues!) who run the programme, enabling them to succeed. Project environments and culture are often forgotten about, but it is really encouraging to work with organisations that recognise the need to focus on their people, and to receive feedback that it helped the programme and those working on it immensely! That, I am proud of!

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

This is a tough one! I think I have three options with very different but strategic benefits.

  1. A Polar Bear, because they are fluffy and fuzzy on the outside but hard as steel on the inside – a trait you need when working in really complex environments!
  2. An Ant, because they work well together in a colony – the ideal major project environment for myself and ResoLex!
  3. Finally, the most strategic animal for me would be a Seagull – they get to fly around visiting beaches and enjoying the sea, but also get away with stealing everyone’s chips!

That’s a little insight into Mags – we’re really pleased to have her as part of the team. She’ll be helping you work better together as a team and adding value to your project. Feel free to reach out to her or connect on LinkedIn.

You can meet the rest of the team and our Associates here.

Building Collective Intelligence tool

Building Collective Intelligence tool

Purpose: Tap into your team’s potential to solve complex problems

Time required: Initial half-day workshop, then interim follow-up work over the next six months

The theory behind the resource: The traditional approach to problem-solving on large projects is to rely on the knowledge and experience of individual experts. However, we are coming to realise that when faced with the often complex and ambiguous issues that are a feature of 21st-century, projects require a different way of thinking. The solution is to tap into the power of human ingenuity by using the collective thinking power of a diverse group. Teams can therefore provide an invaluable mechanism for finding new and effective solutions to difficult problems.

Accessing the collective intelligence of a team is, however, easier said than done. Assembling a group of bright minds does not mean they will generate any new thinking. There are a number of barriers which inhibit the truly open discussions that are needed. Miscommunication, a lack of appreciation of each other’s mental filters, outsized egos, and internal rivalries all diminish thinking capacity. To build collective intelligence, teams often need to learn, through training and group coaching, to be able to understand their limiting factors and how to work around them.

The process: The first step is to set up a half-day workshop, or to include the following activities as part of a team development day. The workshop comprises of three sessions.

 

Part One – Seeing different perspectives

The first part of the journey is to help team members recognise they have different ways of thinking. One of the fastest ways to do this is to use a simple psychometric that will help identify different motivations or preferences that will shape each person’s perspectives. Our preference is SDI (Strength Deployment Inventory) because it is quick to administer, easy to absorb, and most importantly easy to memorise. Having sent out the online tests the week before the team should arrive at the workshop aware of their own psychometric profile. The facilitator can then focus the team on the differences that are likely to emerge from each of the main profiles. The purpose of this first session is to engage the team members in a discussion that begins to help them see the potential value in having different perspectives when compared with the limitations that come with a single point of view.

 

Part Two – Formative experiences

How we behave in a working environment is also influenced by our previous experiences, both positive and negative. The second part of the workshop requires the team to split into groups of two or three people. Each person is then allowed five minutes to talk about what they remember as an important experience that has shaped how they think or make decisions. This could be personal or it could be professional. Once each person has had the chance to share,  their counterpart must then provide a shortened (two minutes) summary of what they have heard, to the rest of the room. The value of this exercise is that it begins to deepen the types of conversation that can take place between team members helping them to understand what matters to each person and why.

 

Part Three – Understanding the need for psychological safety

A team is unlikely to harness its collective intelligence if some of the members do not feel psychologically safe. In other words, every person around the table feels sufficiently comfortable to be able to express their thoughts without fear of ridicule or retribution. This is easy to understand in theory, but how does it work in practice?

This is a short exercise where the concept of psychological safety is explained. Having allowed some time for questions, each team member is asked to spend five minutes thinking about the concept and to make a note of their thoughts around the following questions:

  1. When do I feel most safe in a meeting?
  2. When might I be uncomfortable?
  3. What could we do as a team to improve our sense of safety?
  4. How do we get better at challenging each other’s thinking without creating an intimidating atmosphere?

The facilitator then goes around the table, taking each of the questions, in turn, explains their thoughts without interruption, summarising their points on a flip chart. Once each person has spoken the team can then have a short discussion before moving on to the next point.

 

Part Four – Next actions

To close off the session, the team should spend 10 minutes identifying a series of actions they will take forward in future meetings.

 

Notes:

These exercises will not in themselves automatically improve the team’s Collective Intelligence. They will however your team the foundation upon which to build a more effective way of thinking as a genuine team. The key point to emphasise is that in a complex environment, there are few simple answers. Indeed one of the dangers teams face is to try and oversimplify an issue by simply ignoring the other elements that create complexity.

Part of the underlying learning from the above exercises should be that no single member of the team has the full answer, but each member of a team potentially has a part of it. Teams who can learn the humility to accept this have a much better chance of finding novel and practical responses to the challenges of 21st-century problems.

Metro Trains Melbourne joined us from across the pond!  

Metro Trains Melbourne joined us from across the pond!  

Last week, the team from Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) travelled 10,497 miles and we couldn’t wait to welcome them to our new offices for an amazing networking event! All the way from their offices near St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne to ResoLex HQ by St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

MTM are on a mission to recruit some amazing new talent to relocate and join them on some exciting projects in Victoria. Planning an event so far away can be difficult so we joined forces with Rail Media and NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) to help plan and execute the perfect networking and recruitment event.

Why did we become an event partner?

Having worked with several of the MTM leadership team members in the UK, we were keen to support their international learning opportunities and foster international collaboration.

We joined MTM as their event partner as we know major projects worldwide require the same key elements to ensure success; technical competence, commercial competence and what we term social competence. Metro Trains Melbourne are offering the opportunity for project professionals to share learning from Crossrail and HS2 (High Speed 2) to this exciting urban transport project ‘Victoria’s Big Build’.

We are particularly interested in the impact of the alliance agreement, preferred in Australia when it comes to creating the integration required for successfully deploying the rail systems. 

Therefore we were delighted to meet Pete Gleeson, Executive Director, and catch up with Jamie Burns and Lisa Hogben when they said they were coming to the UK on a learning mission and support their offering of opportunities to those who fancy the adventure of relocating to work with Metro”.

Edward Moore, Chief Exec. at ResoLex

                            MTM Networking event     MTM Networking event

The event was a great success for MTM and those interested in relocating! We are keen to support like-minded organisations in major projects who are working to build diverse and collaborative teams. We caught up with Lisa Hogben, Package Director at Metro Trains Melbourne for some feedback on the event and here’s what she had to say:

Having worked with ResoLex in the past, enjoyed their innovative and creative professional development events and seeing how they live their values of insight, creativity, and partnership, I knew they were the right partners for our UK networking event.


To me, the essence of true collaboration is doing things for others even if there’s no immediate benefit to you, and ResoLex models that essence.


We’re so thankful that ResoLex agreed to be our event partners, and we definitely owe them one!

We would like to thank everyone involved and wish those relocating every success in an industry close to our hearts! Get in touch if you would like to see how we can help your project team.

ResoLex Roundtable Round-up – The Construction Playbook

ResoLex Roundtable Round-up – The Construction Playbook

Putting The Construction Playbook into Practice  – 30th June 2022

Facilitated by Ed Moore and Kelachi Amadi-Echendu

 

ResoLex’s Roundtable series recommenced with our first in-person session since Autumn 2019 and in our new home – you may have seen, we have relocated along with our friends from the International Dispute Resolution Centre to Paternoster Lane right next to the beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral – where we welcomed a select group to delve into some of the key aspects of The Construction Playbook.

 

ResoLex Roundtable

 

Our Chief Exec, Ed opened the session by setting out our view that the success of major projects hinges on three critical interlinked elements;  Technical, Commercial and Social. His observation is that The Construction Playbook continues the worthy objective of modernising the construction industry. However, reading through the document one can see that its focus is primarily on a project’s technical and commercial elements, but has little to say on the social element, on the people that deliver projects.

Our Senior Consultant, Kelachi then introduced the report we recently produced, Changing Behaviours in Construction: A complement to The Construction Playbook. The report brings together our experience and contributions from our Associates and is designed to act as a complement to The Construction Playbook. It provides practical guidance on the behavioural and cultural elements that supplement some of the key recommendations in the Playbook,  focusing on actions and activities that we know through our experience help to build a project’s ‘social capital’.

Our Roundtable sessions are designed to be an interactive discussions rather than a lecture. We, therefore, had an interactive session with participation from everyone in the room, offering a range of perspectives around two key topics:

 

  1. Collaborative Leadership

Leadership has been a hot topic within the industry lately. Kelachi pointed out that it is discussed throughout our report and was recently raised in the second iteration of the ICE review: A Systems Approach to Infrastructure Delivery. An article in the NCE references the report as identifying the need for projects to move on from the habit of appointing ‘hero leaders’ – you can find the full article here.

There was consensus in the room that when faced with complexity, there is a need to adopt different leadership styles and attributes and, that collaborative leadership is desirable, but it is probably more important to embed the right culture at the start. The discussion also brought out the recognition that the leadership needs of a project change as the project/programme moves through the cycle. In modern construction, leaders need to be truly agile, and able to adjust their approach depending on circumstances.

 

  1. Front End Loading

Ed picked up on the requirement in the Playbook to put more time into the start of a project to think through how a team will work together before moving into the task of construction. The question to the room was the extent to which this would add value.

The consensus was that time spent working through potential issues with the full design and delivery team, ideally producing a digital twin, would ultimately produce a better outcome. The proviso, however, was that project teams need to be clear on the main focus, as time can easily be frittered away on inconsequential matters.

The other challenge identified is that upfront investment in building relationships could be wasted if individuals involved in the early stages of a project then quickly moved on to other projects or roles. The answer to this problem was seen to be the need to proactively establish a strong culture so that new entrants to the project would quickly pick up the required mindset and behaviours set out in the beginning.

 

Summary
Taking an overview of the evening’s discussion, the common perspective was a recognition that the social, and therefore people component is a key element in the shifting of behaviours to enable the construction industry to deal with the complexity and uncertainty that are features of our current environment. The industry must therefore focus more effort to train leaders in how to become more agile and understand how to build project cultures that will embed collaborative ways of working that will endure through the life cycle of a project.

You can access The Construction Playbook and our report through the links below:

Changing Behaviours in Construction

The Construction Playbook

Changing Behaviours in Construction: A complement to The Construction Playbook

 

 

 

 

Tony Llewellyn  – 4 July 2022