Seminar: “Reinforcing a Partnering Culture”
Attendees Learned strategies for reinforcing a partnering culture beyond the kickoff session and for encouraging collaboration throughout the entire project.
Eric Sanderson, MIPI
President, Red Rocks Advisors LLC
Eric Sanderson is Founder and President of Red Rocks Advisors, LLC. Mr. Sanderson provides consulting and facilitation services to engineering and construction organizations and owners in the utility and infrastructure sectors of the construction industry. Services provided include management consulting, project teambuilding and partnering for public, commercial and utility infrastructure projects and programs. Mr. Sanderson is an IPI Certified Master Level Partnering facilitator having conducted over 325 professional facilitations. With over 25 years of experience in the construction industry, he brings an understanding of both complex business strategy, and practical operations implementation.
We interviewed him about some of the common challenges to maintaining Partnering momentum:
Tell me more about what you mean when you say “Partnering culture”
It is a shared mindset and disposition toward collaboration. Culture is about sustaining the collaborative environment. It’s an environment where there is consistent performance and reinforcement of collaboration. Everyone must have the attitude and mindset of “We are one team, working on this together.” There is no division between contractor, owner, and designer.
What are the differences between the challenges of getting started with Partnering on a project and with the maintaining the momentum?
When a team begins Partnering, the challenge is getting everyone to embrace the concept and commit to the process. When it is done right you come out of the kickoff with shared goals and a sense of unity.
Sustaining the momentum and the culture requires consistent commitment. Purposeful reinforcement is critical to sustaining the effort. In the absence of very purposeful reinforcement on long duration projects, teams that come from adversarial environments are tempted to go back to the old way of doing things: notice letters, threats, litigation.
What about the difference between well-seasoned Partners and pilot projects?
On projects where the Partnering culture is already established, it is easier. The team has better strategies in place to address the challenges. But sustaining it is still important because you have new people coming on, and you’ll need them to embrace it. A high-performing team should achieve more. They should look for ways to achieve greater success.
For piloting, it is important to reinforce the Partnering culture with activities. Those establish what it should be like—what it should look like. They can say and do all the right things at kickoff, but the circumstances in the field will challenge the team.
Will you be discussing Partnering culture at the program level or just the project level?
I will address them at both levels. Many strategies are the same, but there are some differences in how you execute reinforcement activities.
What is the facilitator’s role in reinforcing the Partnering Culture?
On the one hand, the facilitator isn’t the one doing the partnering, so they should not be the one responsible for reinforcing a partnering culture. The project team is who is responsible for reinforcing a partnering culture. On the other hand, they are a member of the team, helping to move things forward. They should be part of the strategizing and have a seat at the table to guide the team to finding the right tools to implement and stay part of the discussion.
The facilitator should:
- Bring strategies to the table
- Facilitate their implementation
- Hold the team accountable.
What do you hope the audience takes away from your seminar?
The core message is that there is a real need for a team to be purposeful in their reinforcement. They actively have to think about “How are we going to reinforce the culture?” Even follow-up sessions can become a “check the box” aspect of Partnering. The core challenge is to be purposeful about the strategies you implement.