Partnering: The Key to Successful Project Management & Team Development

Partnering is a proven approach to team building and collaborative project planning that enhances team performance and project management effectiveness by:

  • establishing a clearly focused vision, and shared goals and objectives.
  • developing a deeper appreciation of team member values, needs, strengths and differences.
  • analyzing the driving forces, constraints and critical path of the project.
  • developing creative approaches to problem solving.
  • mapping clear channels of internal and external team communication.
  • strengthening consensus building and issue resolution skills.
  • designing practical “action plans” that build in accountability and follow-through.
  • establishing clear guidelines for evaluating both project performance and the Partnering relationship.

Partnering is a flexibly structured process that typically begins with an initial 1-2 day Partnering workshop, scheduled in advance of the project start-up. Additional informal Partnering sessions are conducted on an as-needed basis throughout the course of the project. At the project’s conclusion, a final Partnering session is frequently held to evaluate and celebrate the project’s success.

Because of its versatility as a project management strategy, the Partnering process may be applied within teams, between teams, with customers and/or across organizational boundaries.

Potential Partnering Applications

  • Launch new strategic alliances
  • Launch new projects during programming, design and construction
  • Kick-off construction with combined Partnering/Pre-construction meetings
  • Proactively address project issues and challenges in incremental “look ahead” meetings
  • Review progress and plan ahead at project “milestone” meetings
  • Address and resolve conflict when/as needed
  • Coordinate commissioning
  • Review “lessons learned” at project close-out
  • Partner internally to focus on “in-house” project coordination and information sharing issues, challenges and lessons learned

Benefits of Partnering

  • Enhanced communication and collaboration
  • Improvements in: – Team performance – Project safety – Decision-making – Schedule management and time savings – Cost control and budgetary savings
  • Increased opportunities for innovation and value engineering
  • More creative and effective problem-solving
  • Increased productivity
  • Better quality projects, products and services
  • Reductions in: – Accidents – Punchlists and rework – Change orders – Paperwork – Conflict, claims and litigation

Our Partnering Facilitation Goals

  • Tailoring the Partnering program design to meet the project planning and management needs of all the key stakeholders.
  • Coaching for and encouraging open communication and collaboration between and among all the stakeholding groups.
  • Maintaining a strong “results-oriented” focus to insure the development of practical, job-specific Action Plans; clear Issue Resolution Ladders; and well-defined Communication and Responsibility Matrices.
  • Maintaining a client-centered flexibility and focus that will allow “real-time” responsiveness to stakeholder needs and concerns during the Partnering sessions.
  • Designing in a high level of participation and experiential learning for all workshop participants.
  • Fostering an appreciation of Partnering as more than just an event, i.e., encouraging the recognition that Partnering is an on-going process and strategy for working together collaboratively.

Partnering Preassessment and Planning

We believe that every Partnering relationship is unique, and we tailor all of our Partnering program and workshop designs to the specific needs, issues and concerns of all the stakeholding groups involved in the Partnering process.

In addition, we place a strong emphasis on conducting preassessment interviews and/or planning sessions with the key partners involved in the project (either in person or over the phone) in advance of the Partnering meeting. This enables us to provide our clients with Partnering sessions customized to the unique needs of the project team.

In addition to providing us with a better understanding of background issues and stakeholder needs, these preassessment interviews can also facilitate the creation of greater trust and buy-in for the Partnering process among the participants in advance of the Partnering session.

Since all our Partnering workshops are tailored to the unique needs of our clients, we offer a wide range of facilitation tools and options that can be included in the design of our Partnering workshops.
Depending upon the experience of the workshop participants, and the outcome of the pre-assessment interviews, our customized workshop agendas will include a variety of components selectively drawn from the following list of workshop elements:

The Basic Elements of the Partnering Process

We work closely with each of our clients in designing the workshop agendas and in selecting the Partnering elements, in order to insure that each Partnering process design will be well-suited to (1) the needs of the workshop participants, and (2) our client’s overall Partnering objectives.

The Spirit of Partnering
“The basic principle of Partnering is simple: you have to assume that the other parties are honest and intend to do a good job. You have to believe that the only way you can have an effective team is to create win-win relationships that begin with respect…Partnering is a strategy for success. In over three years’ experience we have:

  • virtually eliminated time growth,
  • substantially reduced cost growth,
  • experienced no new litigation,
  • reduced paperwork by 2/3,
  • gained new respect for our industry partners, and
  • we are HAVING FUN!”

Colonel Charles E. Cowan, Director Arizona Department of Transportation

“To partner is to act on our awareness of our interdependence. To partner is to serve, support, and inspire the unleashing of everyone’s full potential. It is based on a belief that others are inherently able and that we serve each other best when we view ourselves as partners in the discovery of both our abilities. In so doing, we foster our own and others’ growth and development. To partner is to act on our awareness of mutuality, to learn from each other and learn together. To partner is to work together to serve self and others in pursuit of something greater than ourselves.” “Partnership is based on trust and integrity…. To partner is to know we are safe enough to experiment…and to view trial and error as the road to invention….To partner is to honor the wisdom in the system, to learn from what works and what does not work….To partner is to build personal power and to value relationships more than structure. To partner is to hope and to dare.”
~ Jill Janov, The Inventive Organization: Hope and Daring at Work