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Project partnering

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Adaptable projects in changeable environments: taking it easy on the people and working hard on issues as they emerge
WHH collaborates in interpreting project management research. We’ve watched the human systems pragmatists displace the project toolbox idealists.
A key issue is how necessary a closed loop is to your understanding of what a project should be. If very closed is your preference, it’s about tools for you. We still meet project drivers who believe that locking the clients out and locking the project requirements down is what must happen.
We prefer a keeping-the-loop-a-bit-open approach so we have current awareness of the actual risk context our client is working in, and how it is changing.

When we’re working with capable APS leaders on projects with significant levels of conceptual and stakeholder contention, a lot of attention is given to building the resilience of the core team and their collective capability to clear the hurdles that crop up just before known deadlines.

The key project documentation in changeable environments is lucid, shared description of project issues and how the team is managing these issues. Managing these issues well may mean expanding the construct of the team to include the parties that agree to risk allocations.

If project risk context warrants it, we use regular status meetings to review what we’ve done to resolve issues that emerged at the previous meeting, and identify any new issues we need to deal with. If we’re working together well and stop to think about what we’ve learned, we can create options together.

Working in this way takes earned trust. It also takes the maturity to manage conflict, real commitment and intellectual toughness. Perhaps this goes without saying: as a team, we need to care enough about outcomes to bear the pain of thought.

Working together with an open book helps identify lower-value, higher cost activities; and identify opportunities for savings and reallocations of resources to activities of demonstrated higher value.

What nobody can afford is a project where people are being hard on each other and going soft on resolving project issues. That’s a no value project for Commonwealth and contractor alike.