I recently had a brief exchange with an existing client organisation that speaks volumes about how a great number of businesses are managed today – the need for improvement is driven by crisis. Instead of being intentional about pursuing excellence, improvement has become a synonym for recovery. More and more the manager’s job has become the never-ending search for the next hole in the cost report that needs to be filled or the next deviation from “the plan” that needs to be corrected.
Over the last three decades, the safety of the construction environment has improved dramatically. Yet, construction sites are still one of the most dangerous workplaces the world over. As a result, today’s safety management efforts are focused on ensuring that no amount of harm is considered acceptable on a construction site. This commitment to the “zero harm” standard is now regularly included on company logos, plastered across work site and is a mantra that has become a part of standard industry speak.
However, all of this focus on zero harm, and the approach that it entails, begs a few questions that very few people are asking:
- Are we actually making construction a safer place to work?
- Are safety statistics and field reporting becoming a more or less reliable source of information to improve the wellbeing of our people?
- Does it drive the behaviours and actions from our people that we intended?
- Are we bringing safety and our work methods closer together or are we driving them further apart?
- Are we making conversations about safer ways of doing work easier and more open, or are we creating a language of political correctness?
Projects represent one of the most powerful ways to harness collective human capability. Bringing people together in service of a common set of objectives around a defined scope for a prescribed duration – the very nature of projects – can have a catalysing effect. It can create an environment where engaged and motivated teams thrive. The shared purpose and the tangible goals can allow a team of people to deliver ten-fold more business value than the sum of the individuals. Read more
When I think about Value Alignment I am often reminded of the observations that Steven Covey makes in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; specifically, around Habit Two: Start with the End in Mind. Value is all about starting with (and keeping!) the end in mind as project objectives are established, as decisions are made and as work is executed. Dr. Covey uses the analogy of climbing a ladder to make the distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. He says that moving up the ladder quickly with a minimum of wasted energy is efficiency, but ensuring that the ladder is leaning against the right wall is effectiveness. Read more
Recently, while I was outlining what I view as the 3 key influences on project delivery performance – Value Alignment, Team Effectiveness, and Production Management – my focus on Value Alignment was admonished for being too conceptual, too “soft.” It was suggested that what people really want to hear about are concrete actions and activities – processes and tools that they can sink their teeth into. I countered that there is nothing soft or fluffy about the creation of value alignment when it comes to project performance – I am not referring to value in the context of what we hold dear but value in delivery of project outcomes. Read more
When I started my practice, Continuum Performance in 2010 it was, quite frankly, a self-serving enterprise – a passion that I had to help teams be their absolute best and to help individuals achieve exceptional outcomes as part of something larger than themselves.
The company was based on the premise that there are a number of performance “continua” that exist within capital project delivery that can be exploited to realise these lofty ambitions:
- Delivery performance continuum— Extends from the owner’s performance objectives for the project right through to the day-to-day work execution activities.
- Developmental performance continuum–Extends from conceptual design through design and construction and right up to commissioning and operational handover.
- Business performance continuum–Links owners’ realisation of their goals for return on capital investment with delivery organisations achieving their growth and profitability objectives.