Interview with Keynote Speaker Roddy Boggus

With three decades of experience in the planning, design and implementation of diverse aviation projects, Roddy has much to share about the impact of collaborative partnering from the lens of the industry. Roddy is a member of our Board of Advisors and the co-chair of the IPI Aviation Committee. Last year, his commitment to the Partnering movement was recognized with the prestigious Chairman's Award.

In a recent interview, Roddy shared with us his insights on the importance of collaboration:

You say that your professional passion is "accomplishing the impossible." How does being a Partnering champion work into that passion? 

Over the years I have had a lot of opportunities to take challenging projects, projects with problems, or projects with very difficult solutions and create successful experiences for the client.

Many times getting exceptional outcomes on projects like these seem impossible. Successfully completing very difficult projects breeds a strong sense of self-satisfaction as well as client satisfaction and retention.

The only way these kind of things work at all is through collaboration with all the parties involved.  When the parties see it is a team approach and there is an opportunity for everyone to win it becomes much easier for everyone to be successful and do what many might say is impossible. There is no doubt that collaborative culture breeds exceptional outcomes.

What unique challenges in Aviation is Partnering especially well-suited to address? 

Aviation projects can be very complicated. You might be working in an active and operating terminal and concourse that cannot be shut down for construction. Having strong collaborative partners that understand how to safely work around the ongoing airport/airline operations while prosecuting the work schedule is very important. The question becomes, how do you provide exceptional client experiences while leaving the smallest footprint?

Safety and security is always a concern on any redevelopment project within an active airport/airline operation.  Not only are we concerned with making sure everyone of our staff and trade partners go home every night, but we also have to make sure that nothing we do affects a passenger’s journey, creates an unsafe environment for them, or compromises security in any way.

Basically partnering helps us do a much better job of “looking after each other.” If we look after our partners the same way we look out for our young kids when playing near a street, then we are certainly invested in each other and I think that kind of intimacy can only breed success.  A set of partners that look out for each other’s interests will be much more successful than if they are just living by the words of the contract.

What is your advice to leaders who want to create positive culture change? 

  • It must come from the top. It is difficult to implement partnering from a mid-level or grass-roots type of campaign—again, not necessarily impossible, but difficult.
  • Eat the elephant one bite at a time, there’s always the rush to quickly put everything into place, but I recommend you break it down into bite-size pieces.
  • If you want to be seen as collaborative, you have to create a collaborative culture.

When introducing Partnering to a new owner, what is the first thing you think they should know about it? 

That it works. I think primarily they need to know that partnering is not a “four letter word.” It works, and there is proof that it works. The investment into a Partnering culture can be significant, but the rewards can be substantial.  Look at recent IPI awards, and the typical ROI for every dollar spent on Partnering is at least $96.00.  It’s really kind of hard to argue with that kind of success. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of this type of success story?

I often hear from folks that they don’t know how to start Partnering, or that they don’t think they have time to make the change –but there’s always time to do it twice, right?

?What does it take to roll out Partnering successfully? How can industry help?

There’s no quick answer. Number one, we need CEOs, Chairmen, and Presidents of client organizations to lead and embrace Partnering. For that you need leadership and effort…and effort… and effort, because organizational change is not always easy. Like most things, for Partnering to become cultural it has to be seen as more than just an initiative but rather a change in the way the organization will be conducting its business.  That may require decisions on those that can help you drive partnering and those that will soon will be looking for new opportunities.

I see that one of our roles as champions of Partnering is to be better at socializing the positive results of third party collaboration—like the IPI Awards. In this day and age, with Owners looking for funding and innovation, Partnering is a no-brainer.

What innovations to Partnering do you see developing? 

One of the neat things that I’m seeing is the creation of “innovation labs.” On the client side as well as in the A/E and construction trades, the innovation labs are bringing together people that may have no previous experience, in my case, in aviation, but can bring a third party point of view to this service industry.  This collaboration of internal and external thinkers, even if only temporarily, has the benefit of driving innovation and asking “how can we improve what we do?” And you know what they say—“No idea is a bad idea.”

It might not necessarily be called an “innovation lab.” It can manifest itself in many ways—at the San Francisco Airport, they have contractors and design-consultants, as well as staff co-located in what they call the “Big Room.” You’re working together, bouncing ideas off of one another, challenging each other, and creating new opportunities when you think with a collective.

What do you hope that people take away from your keynote speech?

I hope that it causes them to pause. That it causes them to think about how we as human beings are inherently collaborative. Very few of us work in isolation and we all work better when we are together. For some strange reason we’ve popularized this idea that we work better alone. But I’ve found that collaboration breeds satisfaction.

If I can get someone to think about that and seize the opportunity, or say “maybe there is something to this “Partnering thing” and talk it up in their organization or even just become more collaborative themselves, then maybe that’s the first step.  Does it lead to world peace?  Maybe not, but Rome was not built in a day, as they say.

Along with being our Keynote Speaker, Roddy joined Duane Boreham, Kevin Bumen, and Paul Shank on the panel: “Making Your Partnering Pilots Fly.”