Monday, September 19, 2011

Adding Humanity Through Connectedness

In the grizzled world of construction, I get used to conversations being extremely pragmatic and matter-of-fact. So one reason that I enjoy Lean Construction Institute’s workshops is that I’m challenged to re-examine how project teams interact. And sometimes these discussions can even strike an emotional chord for me.

Just such an occurrence happened last week at the CURT/LCI Summit in Buffalo when Will Lichtig of The Boldt Company opened the session with an overview of Lean Construction’s main principles. I’ve heard these ideas several times before, so it should have been a simple review for me…a time to slurp down my second cup of coffee before we got to the meat of the day.

Suddenly I heard Will talking about the idea of “Increased Relatedness,” and it actually tugged on my heartstrings! I’m paraphrasing Will, who was quoting someone else:
“In our projects today, so often teams start out as complete strangers...and finish as perfect enemies.”
Is it possible that we could structure our projects differently to deliberately create a less adversarial environment?

We need to build true personal relationships that crisscross the self-imposed boundaries between companies and roles. It’s knowing each other as individuals that enables teams to weather the inevitable storms that will surely brew between the first conceptual estimate and the final punchlist item. That could be as easy (or as difficult) as front-loading the staffing of a project to create time for the team to gel as a unit before the pace gets frenetic.

So to shift back from the metaphysical to the practical, I wonder if a piece of software (like Newforma Project Center) can contribute to Increased Relatedness. Sure, nothing can replace co-located project teams and spending hours face-to-face in the Big Room with stacks of Last Planner sticky notes. But more often teams are coming together from multiple companies, geographies and time zones.

I believe that technology can play a large role in shrinking those distances, creating networks between co-workers, and smoothing the bumps in the road. Then we are able to concentrate more energy on building the authentic relationships that are the secret sauce to any high performing team.

Here at Newforma we'll be keeping Increased Relatedness top-of-mind to drive more humanity back into the most basic of human interactions: teamwork!

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