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Feature JCP CONSULTANCY


The Standard has the advantage of making an organisation develop a document called a Relationship Strategy, which sets out exactly how they plan to collaborate. Many of their contractors are following suit. However, as with all standards there needs to be constant vigilance that they do not become mere ‘box-ticking’ exercises.


If an organisation selects partners the same way it always has it is likely to get ones with the same values, beliefs and behaviours it always has


Don’t underestimate the amount of effort involved


Working collaboratively is not an easy option. It requires a huge amount of hard work from all partners. Collaboration is often seen as something which is an add-on to the actual job. Actually it has to be the golden thread that runs through everything. Effective collaboration is not a no-cost solution. It will require a financial investment from partners. Contractors, understandably, are unlikely to rise to the challenge of leaving traditional approaches to contracting behind unless they can be persuaded of the opportunity to achieve enhanced financial rewards.


Get your own house in order


If an organisation lacks an internal culture of collaboration then external collaboration will be severely hindered. Organisations need to get their own houses in order before they try to collaborate with others. If not then they are trying to collaborate in hostile territory from the start. Real collaboration requires people to take relationship risks, become vulnerable and trust others, things which the heavily regulated and (quite rightly) broadly risk-averse nuclear industry can find challenging.


Select partners differently


If an organisation selects partners the same way it always has it is likely to get ones with the same values, beliefs and


behaviours it always has. When selecting collaborative partners the process needs to be different. When the Highways Agency wanted to procure collaborative partners for the £2.4bn Managed Motorway scope of works they added a 15% behavioural weighting to their selection criteria. This weighting focused on a prospective partner’s ability to demonstrate an understanding of collaborative behaviours – and not just in written form. The selection process involved workshops where the Agency could measure if its prospective partners could walk the talk and actually collaborate in a real, high-stress environment. At National Grid the focus for partner selection was on the bidder’s ability to complement the client in delivering the end-to-end value chain in an integrated client and partner vehicle – involving HSE, technical, commercial and cultural fit.


Getting on with each other is great, but collaboration is a lot more that. It requires people to behave differently and really challenge each other.


Upfront pricing was used as an ‘affordability hurdle’ but not used to differentiate bidders – what has day-one pricing got to do with selecting a partner for a 13-year cost-based relationship? This mitigated the risk of the wrong partners low-balling and buying the contract. That the OAAS would also appear to put the emphasis on long-term relationships delivering value has to be a good thing – challenging the assumption that a merry-go-round of constant procurement offers better value is exactly right.


Make sure that people understand what collaboration means


Too often people think that collaboration is about being nice, being mates or having a pint together after work. It isn’t. Getting on with each other is great, but collaboration is a lot more that. It requires people to behave differently and really challenge each other. Leaders, including at board


NuclearCONNECT 31


level, need to continuously reinforce the collaborative message down through their organisations and supply chains – particular attention needs to be given to co-opting middle management. These are the managers who have day-to-day contact with the frontline and as such are crucial – they can be the greatest help, or the biggest hindrance, in making sure everyone knows how collaboration is going to work. Behavioural training is a must have at all levels of a business which is looking to collaborate.


Concentrate on leadership


Leaders are the people who others will look to as role models. If they demonstrate the wrong behaviours then others will notice and any collaborative initiative will be undermined.


Collaborative leadership is not about telling people what to do or doing things for them. The trick is – and this includes offering the right incentives, carefully balancing the sharing of risk and seconding the right people who become signed onto the appropriate behaviours – to pull others along with you, get them to collaborate without forcing them, and so really access the full benefits of collaboration. Changes in leadership direction can be fatal for collaborative working. Collaboration has been popular in the past in the nuclear industry and then fallen out of favour when regimes have changed. Hopefully this won’t be the case this time.


Words: Paul Mellon, JCP Consultancy, with contributions from Maxine Symington and Lee Hewitt.


JCP Consultancy has been helping organisations to collaborate sucessfully for 20 years.


To find out more contact paul@jcpcooperation.co.uk or visit www.alliancing.co.uk


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