Partnering Magazine October-December 2017

Page 1

Issue 21 October - December 2017

partnering leadership Welcoming a New Board of Directors with a Long-Standing Commitment to Collaboration

INSIDE: page 6

page 16

A New MSU Partnering Study

Resolving Issues Peacefully

TRUE PARTNERSHIPS BUILD LANDMARK PROJECTS Celebrating 80 years of great partnerships | Learn more at

MULE CREEK INFILL COMPLEX IPI award winning project built in partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

CONTENTS INTERNATIONAL PARTNERING INSTITUTE IPI is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that is funded by our members and supporters who wish to change the culture of construction from combative to collaborative. Phone: (925) 447-9100



October - December 2017 Partnering Leadership

Ivar Satero, President of the Board, San Francisco International Airport Jim Pappas, Vice President of the Board, Hensel Phelps Construction Company David Thorman, Secretary of the Board, CA Division of the State Architect (Ret.) Len Vetrone, Treasurer of the Board, Skanska USA Pierre Bigras, PG&E Roddy Boggus, Suffolk Construction Company, Inc. Pat Crosby, The Crosby Group Pete Davos, DeSilva Gates Construction Larry Eisenberg, Ovus Partners 360 Rachel Falsetti, Caltrans John Fisher, WSP Michael Ghilotti, Ghilotti Bros, Inc. Richard Grabinski, Flatiron West, Inc. Randall Iwasaki, Contra Costa Trans. Authority Jeanne Kuttel, CA Dept. of Water Resources Geoff Neumayr, San Francisco International Airport Stuart Seiden, County of Fresno (Ret.) Thomas Taylor, Webcor Builders Sue Dyer, OrgMetrics LLC




Executive Director’s Message

In the Trenches A new MSU Partnering Study answers the question: Do partnering practices affect team and project performance during project delivery in aviation construction projects?


Best Practices


Partnering Spotlight: Leadership


IPI invites you to join us in

Rick Mayfield

welcoming our new illustrious


2017 brought many “firsts” for IPI members. Take a look at these new opportunities for our organization as well as some other important milestones.

Board of Directors.

Partnering Works! Jim Pappas, Vice President and District Manager of Hensel Phelps, Northern California, explains why Partnering is so important to the construction industry.

Lisa Mayfield



EDITORIAL OFFICE: SUBSCRIPTIONS/ INFORMATION International Partnering Institute 291 McLeod Street Livermore, CA 94550 Phone: (925) 447-9100 Email:



Facilitator’s Corner Resolving issues peacefully and effectively is a team effort.


Research begins in the aviation sector highlighting the effects of Collaborative Partnering.


President’s Message

Michelle Vejby Email:

Partnering Magazine is published by the International Partnering Institute, 291 McLeod Street, Livermore, CA 94550. Four quarterly issues are published annually. Contents copyright 2017 International Partnering Institute, all rights reserved. Subscription rates for non-members, $75 for four electronic issues. Hard copy issues are available only to IPI members. Additional member subscriptions are $75 each for four issues. Postmaster please send address changes to IPI, 291 McLeod Street, Livermore, CA 94550.

Research Roundup

Cover photo: Collaboration 2017 award-winner, Virginia Street Bridge – Reno, NV Owner: City of Reno Prime Contractor: Q & D Construction, Inc. Designer and CM Firm: Jacobs Engineering Partnering Facilitator: Ventura Consulting Group

Why the need for Collaborative Partnering in the Construction industry is greater than ever!

October–December 2017 Partnering Magazine


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE members with the objective of sharing best practices and lessons learned to help organizations achieve the best possible results and promote continuous improvement of their Partnering programs.

Rick Mayfield, IPI Executive Director

Lastly, although not the first time that IPI has provided cutting-edge

A Year of Firsts

research to its members, in May 2017 the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP 08-02) selected a team of researchers led by Professor Sinem Mollaoglu-Scott, PhD. of Michigan State University to conduct the first study of Construction Partnering focused on the Aviation sector. The objective is to develop a research-based guide that will enable airports to more quickly incorporate Collaborative Partnering into their construction projects. While IPI had some great


“first” milestones, there were s I write this message

and a Keynote

a few other achievements to be

that will recap this years’

speech by Roddy

recognized. IPI membership grew

achievements, I am humbled

Boggus, Executive

by 10% over the previous year.

by the fact that I am stepping

Vice President

There were also three Virtual

into the shoes of two previous

of Aviation

Forums and one NetWorkshop

Executive Directors who have been

at Suffolk

bringing together members, both

instrumental in both the growth of

Construction, who held the

the organization and in furthering

audience captivated by his humor, wit

to network, share best practices, and

the mission of the International

and wisdom. Collaboration 2017 will

add value to IPI membership.

Partnering Institute.

definitely be looked back upon as an event to be remembered!

2017 was a year of several firsts for IPI. Starting with perhaps the most

face-to-face and through technology

Moving forward, our goals for 2018 are simple. Develop new and

Another notable first for 2017 was

innovative ways to bring more value to

notable, this year’s awards conference,

the voting in of the new Board of

our members; promote Collaborative

Collaboration 2017. Collaboration 2017

Directors, consisting of Owner and

Partnering to more industry sectors

was the first two-day conference in

Industry Executives, many of whom

through strategic partnerships,

the eight years that IPI has held the

are founding members of IPI and who

membership growth, and our 9th

awards ceremony, and it has been

have helped to support the mission

Annual Awards, Expo and Conference;

called “one of the most successful

to bring Collaborative Partnering to

and provide more opportunities for

awards conferences to date” by many

projects and programs world-wide. 2017

member engagement, while staying

of the attendees. The two-day format

also saw the printing and distribution

focused on IPI’s mission to transform

provided the opportunity to bring

to all IPI members of the Collaborative

the construction industry and to achieve

valuable content to the members and

Partnering Best Practices Guide, which

exceptional results through a culture of

attendees via workshops, presentations,

was created in 2016 by IPI committee



Partnering Magazine October–December 2017

We build spaces dedicated to innovation. At Webcor Builders, we believe that collaborating on innovative ideas can change lives in our communities. Together, we can build anything.

WEBCOR BUILDERS | CL #899242 A,B,C-8,C-9


5 Lessons Learned New MSU Partnering Study By Sue Dyer, MBA, MIPI, MDRF OrgMetrics LLC


he latest Collaborative Partnering study done

an improved team and that team creates better project

by Professor Sinem Mollaoglu-Scott and Shivam

outcomes. The research found that when a team uses a

Sohani of Michigan State University discovered

partnering practice (i.e. holds a partnering session) they get

five lessons learned to ensure that your

an incremental improvement in team characteristics. When

partnering effort is effective.

the team follows up with other practices (i.e. scorecards) at regular intervals, the improvement in performance

This new research is based on a case study, and takes an in-

outcomes follow.

depth exploration of the San Francisco International Airport’s Runway Safety Area (RSA) project. The RSA project team was able to perform $1M/day of work for 90 days to reopen the

Lesson #2. Levels of Partnering and Risk Factors

runway a full month early. This research sought to answer

The level of partnering to be used on any particular project

the question: Do partnering practices affect team and project

can differ based on the following potential risk factors:

performance during project delivery in aviation construction

Project Value

projects? If so, how?

Level of Complexity

Political Significance, and

Prior Experiences of Project Parties with Partnering and

The study analyzed the documents that surrounded the project (specifications, partnering session reports, partnering

Each Other

surveys, email, and weekly progress meeting notes). The research team used interviews and social network analysis

In the case study, the highest level of partnering was used

to graph the team interactions to understand the team

(Level 5) and included:

characteristics during the project and compared qualitative

data to find links (if any) between partnering drivers, team characteristics and performance outcomes. The

Monthly partnering meetings from design through construction

findings in this research help outline the steps to successful

Multi-tiered partnering that included executive, core team, and stakeholder levels

implementation of collaborative partnering, including five

Special task forces called to resolve specific issues

lessons learned.

Partnering training for all team members

Subcontractor on-boarding and off-boarding

Monthly scorecards

An emphasis on field-level decision-making

This unique study allowed the researchers to provide

Professional, third party partnering facilitator

empirical proof of what many who are champions of

Development of a partnering charter, and

partnering long have been saying: Partnering results in

Dispute resolution process set up and facilitated as

Lesson #1. Partnering Practices Affect Team Characteristics and Project Outcomes

needed 6

Partnering Magazine October–December 2017


The objective evaluation of the data and team reports in this case study clearly showed that effective use of these partnering elements and tools was key to project success.

Lesson #3. Owner Readiness and Buy-in to Collaborative Partnering Adoption and implementation of innovative administrative processes like collaborative partnering, owner’s buy-in, readiness, and leadership are key features for project success. For successful adoption and implementation of collaborative partnering in project teams, owners need to devote time and resources in three key areas: 1. Contractual Drivers: Examples include embedding a partnering specification in agreements with key parties, incentives, mutually developed conflict identification and resolution strategies, and adoption of alternative dispute resolution processes. 2. Procurement Drivers: Examples include early involvement of key team participants in the delivery process, team members with prior experience together, qualifications-based selection of key team members, prior experience with partnering, and the use of broad partnering teams (including subcontractors, team stakeholders and end-users in partnering workshops).


3. Partnering Practices: Based on the level of partnering to be adopted in a given project, the practices outlined should be consistently followed during project delivery. Examples of partnering practices include: partnering charters, trainings, workshops, monthly scorecards and joint problem solving.

11555 Dublin Boulevard, Dublin, California 94568-2909

925-829-9220 w w w . d e s i lva g at e s . c o m Contractors License No. 704195A

October–December 2017 Partnering Magazine


IN THE TRENCHES The objective evaluation ... clearly showed that effective use of these partnering elements and tools was key to project success.

Lesson #4. Key Partnering Practices

The study of the SFO RSA project, winner of the IPI Diamond

The most often used and highly evaluated partnering

Level Partnered Project of the year award, revealed these five

practices were:

key lessons:

Joint Problem Solving

1. Partnering practices matter – Each partnering session,

Mutual goals and objectives communicated

These practices can immensely contribute to improved team and project outcomes in construction.

Lesson #5. Importance of Partnering Tools and Consistent Implementation If joint problem solving and communication of mutually

Scorecard or other partnering best practice used gives the team a positive bump. By following up regularly, you keep momentum going. 2. Align your levels of Partnering with your risk factors – Scale your partnering effort and do as much as it takes to ensure your team manages your project risks. 3. Owner readiness – The owner is key to project success – if

agreed-to goals and objectives are of utmost importance, how

the owner’s staff are not trained and “bought in”, you need

can an environment be created to facilitate these practices

to put in work to get them there.

consistently through project delivery? The research uncovers four partnering drivers:

4. Key partnering practices – Use the practices that teams say work! Joint-problem solving and the communication of mutual goals and project objectives means the team is

A. Partnering specifications clearly laid out the elements of the collaborative partnering process and expectations from participating organizations (contractual driver). B. Key parties were involved early in the process and

aligned. 5. Partnering tools and consistent implementation – Right size your partnering and make sure to include project stakeholders, third-parties, and end-users to the session.

attended the partnering kick-off session. Additionally, key stakeholders from all levels of their home-organizations

The above outlined strategies were independent of the

attended the project’s partnering sessions as needed

delivery methods (i.e.., low-bid, design-build), but taken

throughout the project delivery (procurement driver).

together contributed to effective joint problem solving and

C. Consistently used partnering practices outlined in the partnering specifications were:

Francisco International Airport project demonstrated how an

Joint project charters

integrated project team is possible with the right facilitation

Regular partnering workshops/sessions

of collaborative partnering.

Engagement of a third party partnering facilitator

Benchmarking/regular monitoring of the partnering


process and goals via charters and team evaluated

Sue Dyer is president of OrgMetrics LLC. She and her


team specialize in developing collaborative cultures

D. Additional partnering practices adopted throughout the delivery process were:


communication of mutual goals and objectives. The San

for construction project teams and organizations, helping them to perform as One Team™. OrgMetrics facilitates construction partnering using an array of

Joint project offices (co-locations)

Integrated information systems

norms of collaboration, then holds the team accountable to those norms so

Frequent meetings among key sub-teams

project success becomes more predictable. Sue is also the founder of IPI.

Partnering Magazine October–December 2017

collaboration tools that allow teams to develop the


Q&D’s experienced aviation team has the know-how, collaborative approach and proven preconstruction processes to integrate your project’s construction into your facility or operation without negatively impacting your day-to-day. Q&D’s capabilities include: Large Projects


• • • • •

Terminal Revisions Terminal Buildings Airport Expansions Security Upgrades Baggage Handling Systems

Support Facilities • • • • • • •

Ground-up Construction Equipment Storage Buildings FBO’s Service Buildings Maintenance Buildings Hangars Runways / Barriers


• • • • • • • •

Equipment Upgrades and Relocations Tenant Improvements Gate Relocations Security Revisions Concession Build-Outs Finish Upgrades Support Spaces Full Program Support Branding Updates

Project Delivery • • • •

CM-at-Risk Design-Build Full Preconstruction Services Partnering (775) 786-2677 Member, IPI Duane Boreham VP Aviation Division

October–December 2017 Partnering Magazine



LEADERSHIP Board of Directors, Officers: Leadership Excellence— Ivar Satero, President of the Board Airport Director, San Francisco International Airport. An IPI Founder, IPI Welcomes San Francisco International Airport has been a member since September 2009. New Board of Directors

Jim Pappas, Vice President of the Board V.P. & Northern California District Manager, Hensel Phelps Construction


Company. Hensel Phelps Construction Company has been an IPI


member since September 2011.


David Thorman, Secretary of the Board


State Architect, Retired, CA Division of the State Architect. David


Thorman has been an IPI member since August 2009.


Len Vetrone, Treasurer of the Board


Co-Chief Operating Officer, Skanska USA Buildings. An IPI Founder,


Skanska USA Buildings has been a member since August 2009.



Partnering Magazine October–December 2017

IPI’s Board of Directors is charged with setting policies and ensuring that we accomplish our Mission, “to transform the construction industry to achieve exceptional results through a culture of collaboration.”


Pierre Bigras

Richard Grabinski

Director for Construction Management of Gas

Vice President–Western Region Manager,

Transmissions, Pacific Gas & Electric. Pacific Gas

Flatiron West, Inc. An IPI Founder, Flatiron has

& Electric (PG&E) has been an IPI member since

been an IPI member since December 2009.

February 2012.

Randell Iwasaki

Roddy Boggus

Executive Director, Contra Costa County

Executive Vice President of Aviation, Suffolk

Transportation Authority. Contra Costa County

Construction. Suffolk has been an IPI member

Transportation Authority has been an IPI

since May 2015.

member since December 2012.

Pat Crosby

Jeanne Kuttel

President, The Crosby Group. The Crosby Group

Chief Division of Engineering, CA Department

has been an IPI member since February 2015.

of Water Resources. CA Department of Water Resources has been an IPI member since

Pete Davos

March 2014.

Vice President, DeSilva Gates Construction. DeSilva Gates Construction has been an IPI

Geoff Neumayr

member since June 2012.

Chief Development Officer, San Francisco International Airport. An IPI Founder, San Francisco International Airport has been an IPI member since September 2009.

Larry Eisenberg Principal, Ovus Partners 360. Ovus Partners 360 has been an IPI member since August 2009.

Stuart Seiden Capital Projects Division Manager, Retired,

Rachel Falsetti Chief Division of Construction, Caltrans.

Department of Public Works and Planning, County of Fresno, CA. County of Fresno has been an IPI member since August 2009.

Caltrans has been an IPI member since August 2009.

Thomas Taylor Vice President, Webcor Builders. Webcor Builders has been an IPI member since

John Fisher

December 2012.

Vice President Area Manager, WSP. WSP has been an IPI member since November 2011.

Michael Ghilotti

Sue Dyer Founder and Ex-Officio, President, OrgMetrics

President, Ghilotti Bros., Inc. An IPI Founder,

LLC. An IPI Founder, OrgMetrics LLC has been an

Ghilotti Bros., Inc. has been an IPI member

IPI member since July 2008.

since April 2009.

October–December 2017 Partnering Magazine



Did You Know? IPI and Michigan State University have maintained a

Helping Aviation Research Take Off!

strategic partnership since 2014. This relationship has resulted in not only the current ACRP study, but other critical Partnering research papers including: •

Study in the Aviation Industry (2017) •

A Meta-analytic Synthesis of Partnering Literature in the AEC Industry (2015)


In-Depth Study of a Partnered Project: A Case

Barriers to Partnering in the AEC Industry (2014)

n May of 2017, The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP 08-02) selected a team of researchers lead by Sinem Mollaoglu-Scott, PhD. of Michigan State

stakeholder groups who can influence the delivery of a project.

University to conduct the first study of construction

Typical airfield construction projects must be coordinated with

Partnering focused in the Aviation sector. The $350,000

operations, security, police, as well as the tenants (i.e. United,

research project entitled “Integrating Collaborative Partnering

Alaska Airlines, Southwest, etc.). Terminal construction must

for Airport Projects” will be completed in Summer 2018.

be coordinated with the above groups as well as passengers,

Mollaoglu-Scott, the author of several IPI-funded research

concessionaires, and third-party organizations like Customs

projects (highlighted in the box at right), has become an expert in

and Border Protection and the Transportation Security

structured collaborative partnering and has gathered members

Administration. This complexity has made airport construction

of the IPI Aviation committee and an incredibly experienced

particularly prone to cost and schedule overages and, ultimately,

group of partnering researchers and aviation construction

construction claims.

leaders, including: Brian Polkinghorn, PhD (Salisbury University),

A Collaborative Effort – What is perhaps most exciting about

Douglas Gransberg, PhD (Gransberg & Associates, Inc.), Roddy

this research is that it has taken strategic partnerships to get it

Boggus (Suffolk), Duane Boreham (Q&D Construction), Joe Jackson

off the ground. For ACRP to fund the research question focused

(RS&H), Carla Lopez, PhD, (Del Puerto & Associates, LLC) and Kurt

on collaborative partnering, IPI staff and members spent two

Dettman (Strategic Ent. Technology Inc.).

years educating the aviation industry about the benefits of the

“Thanks to the industry leaders that continuously inspire us

structured approach to collaboration. Ultimately, the proposal

to change the status quo. The examples they set and support

that lead to ACRP 08-02 was co-sponsored by the IPI Aviation

they have provided for research have so far enabled us to

Committee and leadership from the Airport Consultant’s Council

look deeper into Collaborative Partnering and how it can truly

( and Airports Council International-

integrate construction project teams,” Professor Moaglu-Scott

North America ( Each of our

said. “With the scale of our new project and the strong make

organizations is eagerly awaiting the outcomes of the research

up of our team, we are very excited about potential impacts

and the new tools included in the Partnering Guide.

of this study in catalyzing the aviation industry’s adoption of integrative project delivery practices.”

Research Objectives – The objective of the research is

Keep an eye out, Dr. Mollaoglu-Scott and the ACRP research team will be presenting updates on their findings and opportunities at upcoming aviation conferences and at IPI

to develop a research-based guide that enables airports to

Collaboration 2018. To support IPI’s ongoing efforts to support

more quickly incorporate Collaborative Partnering into their

cutting-edge partnering research, please respond to research

construction projects. The guidance will highlight the benefits

surveys, sponsor Collaboration 2018 or an upcoming event, or

to partnering, the structure of the collaborative partnering

earmark a donation to the IPI Research Program. Learn more

process, measurement and benchmarks, lessons learned, and

by emailing IPI at or calling IPI at

will include best practices for engaging key airport stakeholders.

(925) 447-9100.

The guide will also include sample partnering specifications and other key partnering documents to help airports get a

Rob Reaugh, SIPI, OrgMetrics LLC

partnering program launched.

Rob Reaugh is an IPI Certified Partnering Facilitator

The long-term goal of the research is to make structured collaborative partnering the norm on federally-funded construction projects for airports of all sizes. Airport construction is exceedingly dynamic, due to the high number of 12

Partnering Magazine October–December 2017

and Vice President for OrgMetrics LLC. He is the Partnering Facilitator for the San Francisco Collaborative Partnering Steering Committee and works in aviation, transit, vertical building, heavy civil, mechanical and wastewater construction.

LaGuardia Airport, Central Terminal B Redevelopment

Philadelphia International Airport, Terminal F Baggage Claim Addition and Ticketing Renovation

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Terminal Improvement Program

The aviation industry is changing. So is the way we build it. Collaborative construction methods are delivering results for airport stakeholders, from airlines and operating authorities to vendors and passengers. On airport projects from coast to coast, Skanska is showing that construction doesn’t mean disruption.

Skanska Senior Vice President Dwight Pullen can discuss how we can align for your next project. Contact him at:


Partnering Works

An Interview with Jim Pappas, Vice President and District Manager of Hensel Phelps, Northern California


ensel Phelps Construction Company has just

won’t work on hard bid. In fact, you need Partnering more

celebrated their sixth anniversary as a member

with hard bid because of how the contract is written.

of IPI. They won a Sapphire John L. Martin Partnered Project of the Year Award this year for

One element of Partnering, the scorecards/Partnering surveys,

their Mule Creek Infill Complex project.

is the barometer for how things are going. In the Mule Creek

We talked with Jim Pappas (our new Vice

Project, for instance, the surveys prepared us for our monthly

President of the Board) about his thoughts

Partnering session. The CDCR Director would attend and we

on the importance of Partnering in the

would walk the job and talk about the issues with Neal Flesner

construction industry and how it helped the

(IPI Master Level Facilitator, Ventura Consulting). The project

Mule Creek Project, in particular.

finished early and on budget—it was truly a collaborative effort. There was a sister project that was half the size who wasn’t

Q: Why is Partnering Important to the Construction Industry? A: I’ve had the opportunity to work in 11 states and I’ve seen

Partnering. That project was behind schedule and had claims. It just goes to show what a team can do with a common vision. There is a lot of give and take. You sit down and you work it out. The Mule Creek project included 23-25 months of collaborative

the vast differences between projects that partner and those

design, $375B worth of work, and a late change that added a

that don’t. On those projects that don’t partner, I spend a

building. We still got it done on time and within budget.

tremendous amount of time trying to resolve issues. My time spent in Partnering sessions is well worth it. I’d much rather

The most moving moment came in the closeout partnering

be doing that than always having to intervene.

session when the circle of Executives shared their parting thoughts. Mike Courtney (then Project Director with Vanir)

Partnering is all about aligning expectations. You can look at

said, “I remember your words – Hensel Phelps would raise the

a drawing and see it one way and I may see it another way. To

bar on our expectations. You did raise the bar and exceeded our

align expectations takes communication by asking “What are

expectations.” That comment meant a lot to me.

your concerns? What are your goals?” You will get different

Deborah Hysen (Director, Facility

answers (and expectations)

Planning, Construction and Management,

from different people.

California Department of Corrections and

Partnering is a good way to

Rehabilitation) said, “The only bad thing

align the different expectations and goals. It works for every delivery model. Some say it 14

Partnering Magazine October–December 2017

Photos: (above) Mule Creek Infill Complex project, Ione, CA; (left) members of the Mule Creek project team at IPI’s Collaboration 2017 Conference.

about this we don’t have another project to tackle together with this same team.” A first for many of the people working on the project was that we were a partnership where people were engaged both at work and after work. There were lunches to bring the community out. Leadership would bring their families to these events. It was not just a successful job but a successful relationship. This level of Partnering and partnership can be replicated. Everyone walked away from this project with a feeling of pride for a job well done

Q: How Can IPI Help? A: I became involved with IPI because I believe the need for collaboration in our industry is great. It is a testament to the strength of IPI (as a pioneer in the industry) to create a process of accreditation and give it a definition—a structure. I look back 20 years when Partnering was a day’s

Denver International Airport Gate Apron Rehabilitation & Drainage Improvements

worth of touchy-feely stuff. Now it has progressed to be a more pragmatic approach to avoiding and solving problems. We have great advocates

I became involved with IPI because I believe the need for collaboration in our industry is great.

like Scott Bills (Operation Manager, Hensel Phelps) out there implementing Partnering day by day. That is so important. I believe that

kind of support needs to come from the top. Force the issue. Believe in it. There’s nothing worse than a team that wants to partner but the leader is resisting. The mindset should be to resolve the issue, and for people to walk away happy. It must come from the top or you will have conflict in the organization. The challenge that the Board of Directors has is working on our regular day jobs as well as supporting IPI to the degree that is needed. We are at a crossroads. We’ve had a change in leadership. Now we are trying to harness our progress and take it to the next level. We need to reach beyond the west coast—which we are going to do. We need to be the goto place for facilitator accreditation or advice for owners. We have the interactive sessions at our annual conference

From coast to coast, and year after year, we’ve partnered with some of the best in the business. Together, we bring innovative infrastructure to life.

and awards ceremony—that is the benchmark. We have to sustain the momentum. We have made some great strides. We are ready to grow to A HOCHTIEF Company

the next level and make a difference in the industry.

October–December 2017 Partnering Magazine



Conflict Resolution By Neal Flesner, MBA, MA, SIPI Ventura Consulting Group

Resolving Issues Peacefully and Effectively is a Team Effort

Such was the case on a $65-million project I facilitated on the West Coast. During one of their partnering review sessions, I witnessed the project managers from the contractor, construction management firm, owner and architect quietly entering the


ctober 19th is “Conflict Resolution Day,” an annual

room with their arms folded. They were a year-and-a-half into a three-year project that was ahead of schedule and on budget, yet they weren’t talking.

event created by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). The purpose of this global event

A few minutes later, senior management from the owner and

is to create an awareness of peaceful methods for

contractor strolled into the room, chatting and smiling, as if

conflict resolution that can be used within workplaces, schools,

they had just shared the punchline of a good joke.

families, the legal system and other areas of life. From both observations, it was apparent something was amiss. Throughout my experience as a partnering facilitator, I’ve

But, what was going on? The group was hitting (or ahead) of

run into various teams with conflicts on construction projects,

their marks for schedule, budget and quality, yet the team

and witnessed first-hand the powerful role partnering plays

dynamics were noticeably challenged.

in mitigating them. To commemorate Conflict Resolution Day, I’d like to share with you a method we use in partnering to

After some discussion during the partnering session,

effectively mitigate and harmoniously resolve conflict. It’s

we learned that a few issues had festered at the project

called the Issue Resolution Ladder. When used properly,

management level, yet no one had wanted to elevate them

team dynamics and the project thrive. But if not used or

to the next level. The project managers were unwilling to

implemented the correct way, relationships break down and

negotiate their stance or seek help from senior management to

the team and project suffer.

remove the obstacle.


Partnering Magazine October–December 2017

Why does this happen? In partnering, we discuss issue

were over 30 names listed. This does more of a disservice

resolution, the path, timelines and rules around issue

to the issue resolution process. Will the ladder that we

resolution. Still, a high-performing team can fall apart due to

develop help or hinder the team? That is the question we

poor application of the issue resolution process. Below is a list

should be asking. As a team, work to simplify the process

of common pitfalls causing this.

and create an Issue Resolution Ladder that is easy to follow and will support the speed in which the team would


Fear of failure or the perception of others. Field managers and project managers may view elevating issues as a


like to resolve the challenges. 3.

elevated, the project team must make each other aware of

by their managers for not resolving the issue themselves.

their desire to elevate it. Anyone can elevate the issue and

Studies show, that 95 percent of the time, and if you have a

leadership should encourage it. It is not a failure to elevate

good senior manager, this is not the case. Senior managers

the issue, rather the failure lies in letting the problem

do not want to let issues stall the project and want to

fester. When the team elevates the issue, ensure that they

remove obstructions to progress for the team.

are briefing the leadership on what has happened, what

Lack of senior management engagement. Senior

they agree on and where they disagree. Simply “kicking it

management is not fully engaged with the project. It

up” without any context or background is dangerous. The

happens to even the best senior managers. They empower

danger lies in the potential for leadership to make a poor

their project teams, get overloaded with responsibilities and aren’t 100 percent engaged with what is going on


Communicate the issue escalation. When an issue is

failure, or they are afraid of how they will be perceived

assumption or a delay in resolution. 4.

Strong leaders know when to push the issue back down.

within their teams and on the project. Effective managers

When the leadership meets to review the issue that has

not only know what is happening with the team, they

been elevated, they should evaluate not only the issue, but

know about specific constructability issues and are fully

how they might be able to empower the team to resolve

committed to the team’s success.

this issue in the future. Or, determine whether it is an

Problems defining the issues. The issues aren’t truly

issue that should be pushed back down for further work

defined by the project management team, and we can’t

and resolution.

agree on the issue and a path to resolution. If we don’t


Proper documentation and communication. Once an issue

know what the issue really is, how can we begin to solve

is resolved and is agreed to by the parties, it is documented

it? If the doctor can’t diagnose what is ailing you, how can

and communicated to the team. These are business

he prescribe a remedy?

decisions and should be treated as such. Leadership should ensure that they communicate how and why the

What can we do as managers, leaders and team members to help

decision was made.

resolve these issues faster and reduce the issues’ impact to the budget, schedule and, ultimately, the relationship of the team?

As much as we might try to engineer disagreements and unknowns out of the construction process, it is very likely that


Mutually and clearly define the issue or disagreement.

conflicts will occur. How we respond to them is what counts.

Where do we agree? Where is the impasse? Agreeing on the

If not embraced by the team, issue escalation can be a major

issue and finding a way to memorialize it is the first step.

challenge that can divide teams and pull them apart. When

The Regional Transportation Commission in Washoe

used as intended, it can empower team members, aid in the

County, Nevada (RTC) formalizes this escalation process.

resolution of issues and help the team overcome any conflict

Team members document the issue, provide backup and

that is thrown their way.

then agree on a timeline to work to resolve the issue within the project team. If it is not resolved, they agree to disagree 2.

and kick it up to the next rung on the resolution ladder.

Neal Flesner, MBA, MA, SIPI

Prior to an issue, agree to a resolution process that

Neal Flesner, of Ventura Consulting Group, has been

everyone has bought into, and agrees to follow. This seems like a no brainer, and many teams already do this, however sometimes it becomes overly complicated and complex. On a recent project, a team had a pre-populated

facilitating partnering on large, complex projects and programs since 2007. With an MBA from the University of Oregon and a Masters in Organizational Development, Neal works to enable his clients and teams to deliver extraordinary results.

issue resolution matrix that took up an entire page. There

October–December 2017 Partnering Magazine



IPI is Needed More than Ever

Ivar Satero President of the Board, Director, San Francisco International Airport


hat an incredibly challenging but exciting


time, especially for those agencies and corporations that are preparing for the future.

Poor Organization. Decision-making and procurement processes do not have the speed and scale required.


For the air travel industry, and airports in

Inadequate Communication. Inconsistencies in reporting mean that subcontractors, contractors, and owners do not

particular, it is a time to be bold and invest in infrastructure to

have any common understanding of how the project is

both modernize outdated facilities and invest in technology, as

faring at any given time.

well as to drive level of service improvements and prepare for


continued significant growth over the next 20 years. In order

issues stack up because of lack of communication and

to pursue this, with increasing scarcity of public funding, it is critical that airports, and public agencies in general, be fully

Flawed Performance Management. Unresolved accountability.


Contractual Misunderstandings. The procurement team

committed to leveraging investment to garner the greatest

typically negotiates the contract, and this is almost always

benefit on behalf of the public, and achieving exceptional

dense and complicated (a P3 contract can be 15,000 pages).


When a problem comes up, project managers may not

I was reading the Economist (August 17th Issue) and it reiterated what IPI has been saying for over a decade—that

understand how to proceed. 5.

Missed Connections. There are different levels of

the construction industry is the ONLY industry in the U.S. (and

planning, from high-end preparation to day-by-day

worldwide) that has consistently gone down in productivity for

programs. If the daily work is not finished, schedulers

over 40 years! McKinsey estimates that construction’s lagging

need to know (but often don’t) so that they can update

productivity is costing the global economy $1.6 trillion a year.

priorities in real time. And of course, we see the push

In the U.S, this is a big problem as every extra dollar that

pull around who “owns” the schedule far too often, so the

is spent on construction gets added to the goods and services

schedule is often not used to help build the project. 6.

that we provide. Lagging

Poor Short-term Planning. Companies are generally good

productivity inhibits our

at understanding what needs to happen in the next two to

ability to compete in the

three months, but not the next week or two. The result is

global marketplace. While

that necessary equipment or materials may not be in place. 7.

the construction industry’s productivity has gone

Insufficient Risk Management. Long-term risks get considerable consideration; the kinds that crop up on the

down for over 40 years,

job not nearly as much. 8.

all other industries have

Limited Talent management. Companies defer to familiar

sky-rocketed. And yes,

people and teams rather than asking where they can find

this is affecting everyone,

the best people for each job.

especially when we need over a trillion dollars of infrastructure built!

Source: McKinsey Global Institute

You might be asking yourself like I did—why? Why is the

While I read all of this, I was struck by all of the challenges and the true need for collaborative partnering! As we look to the 2018 challenges and opportunities for IPI, our mission to

construction industry lagging so much when it employs seven

bring collaborative partnering to the industry is so important. I

percent of the world’s working-age population? According to

am counting on all our members to take up this cause and push

McKinsey research, there are eight defining factors:

forward to get more projects using what we all know works!


Partnering Magazine October–December 2017

Delivering airport solutions since 1974 Our standards of excellence in construction, innovation, and safety continue to allow us to partner on some of the most high-profile aviation projects in the world.

When considering a PARTNERING FACILITATION ямБrm there truly is





OrgMetrics - The Trusted Leader In Structured Collaborative PartneringTM |