Process facility owners or Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies are traditionally structured in a vertical organization. Vertically organized structures have created a system of different silos that have difficulty with communicating effectively to each other, leading to inefficient decision-making and, therefore, unproductive work. Decisions are made without understanding the impact upon other departments or disciplines, which creates rework. Rework increases the overall cost and delays project schedules. Collaboration among the departments and disciplines is required to ensure a successful project. It has been proven that organizations which are horizontally structured result in more effective communication.
Collaboration is especially important when introducing new design and execution approaches into the project, such as industrial modularization or facility standardization approaches. When a new approach is introduced and is a change from convention, project teams will resist the change as it will be harder to implement than the status quo. People tend to revert to what they know when things get difficult and when new learnings are required.
What is Collaboration?
Collaboration occurs when all members of the team share a common purpose, there is mutual trust, and everyone uses agreed-upon approaches for the work (Gottesdiener 2002). Project teams need to build collaborative relationships based on knowledge sharing, with the intention of learning about other areas of expertise. Trust is very important when developing a collaborative project team; there is an expectation that other team members will deliver what was discussed or agreed.
The four common elements to developing trust within a collaborative relationship are:
These elements of trust will need to be present in all team members to allow the team members to trust one another.
How do you incorporate collaboration into your project?
The following are five key approaches to help you incorporate the collaborative elements of trust into your project:
1. Implement Collaborative Leadership
“The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.”
― Simon Sinek
Collaborative leadership comprises the actions we take as leaders to remove the silos between disciplines, build deep relationships with all stakeholders and allow everyone to learn together. Collaborative leadership is about working together to achieve the project objectives, instead of manipulating the project team into achieving the project objectives. Collaborative leaders do not ignore the issues but view them as challenges and bring together the stakeholders to develop solutions.
Leaders will motivate team members to come up with great ideas for any challenge and ensure project expectations are understood among stakeholders. Team members work more fluidly with each other when they see that their work has purpose and contributes to the overall success of the project. To be an effective leader, you will need to establish trust with your project team by fostering an honest and transparent leadership style vs. an authoritarian leadership style.
2. Organize the Project Team in a Horizontal Structure rather than a Vertical Structure
The difference between horizontal and vertical organizations is that vertical organizations have a top-down management structure, while horizontal organizations have a flat structure. A horizontal structure provides greater employee autonomy and allows collaborative leadership skills and an empowered mindset to develop. This type of organization will allow the communication to flow freely between project discipline teams.
With a horizontal organization, the reporting hierarchy through the discipline lead to the engineering manager and back to the other discipline lead has been removed. The teams are better able to talk to each other without the reporting hierarchy, increasing the communication flow, collaboration, efficiency and productivity of the project.
This type of system removes the silos and allows project teams to feel empowered, because they can make important decisions together and ensure any impacts of those decisions are understand among all the discipline teams.
3. Build Effective Team Relationships
Building an effective team involves promoting mutual respect and sharing a clear, measurable, common goal that the team is committed to achieving. To achieve this goal there must be open communication and trust among the team. Some ways to develop effective team relationships are:
Encouraging the team to brainstorm solutions together
Ensure workplace policies promote open and honest communication
Incorporating team building activities, including communication skills workshops
Promoting professional development among team members
Resolving conflicts amicably and with emotional intelligence
4. Involve Everyone on the Project Team
During meetings or discussions, ensure every project team member is involved by encouraging the sharing of ideas or solutions and that everyone has equal speaking opportunity. Create an environment where no idea or solution will be mocked or dismissed. This will allow for the project team members to feel secure in sharing their ideas.
Additionally, include team members in the decision-making process. This fosters an atmosphere of shared responsibility and encourages team cooperation.
5. Make Meetings More Efficient
Meetings that are inefficient or conducted with no concrete plan or agenda can feel like a waste of time, and this is frustrating for team members. Leaders can make meetings feel useful and efficient by providing an agenda or outline of the meeting in advance. By sending the agenda out prior to the meeting, the team members can understand the scope of the meeting and collect their thoughts and ideas. This ensures fewer distractions and encourages the team to focus on outcomes per the agenda.
By incorporating some of these key approaches into your project, you will develop a more collaborative project team. Collaboration enables the project team to come up with new solutions for any challenges that arise when integrating new execution and design approaches like modularization and facility standardization into your project. Projects that follow a collaborative approach will be more successful than a project that is not collaborative.
If you want to know how to effectively develop an horizontal organizational structure and increase collaboration for your project, contact DyCat Solutions at email@example.com or visit our website at www.dycatsolutions.com.
Gottesdiener, Ellen. Requirements by Collaboration. 2002.
Quain, Sampson. "The Difference Between Vertical & Horizontal Business Organizations." Small Business - Chron.com, http://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-vertical-horizontal-business-organizations-24915.html. 31 January 2019.
Sinke, Simon. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action