Case Studies

Team Alignment - EPC/Owner Project Team

This case study occurred in Houston, Texas with a team made up of an EPC Contractor team that was a joint venture partnership between a Japanese company and a Houston based company. They were working in close partnership with...

Situation: This case study occurred in Houston, Texas with a team made up of an EPC Contractor team that was a joint venture partnership between a Japanese company and a Houston based company. They were working in close partnership with an integrated owner based team. The Japanese portion of the EPC contractor and the owners team were represented in a ratio of about 10% to the Houston based EPC contractor so they were each in a one to many relationship.

Task: The task was for us to work with the leadership to get the team aligned internal to the joint venture partnership as well as to improve communications between the JV and the Owner as quickly as possible. The objectives of the alignment exercise were:

  • Build awareness of the rich value of cultural diversity on the team, remove barriers and create synergy among team members
  • Build awareness of communication styles among team members and techniques to enhance more effective communication between those with divergent styles
  • Review and build deeper understanding of the team charter clarifying questions and addressing any concerns at this stage
  • Review of team processes surrounding Communication, Conflict Management, and Decision making
  • Build clarity around High Performance Team behaviors and identify strengths and opportunities for this team

Action: The action steps that we took were in two steps. The first step was to get the EPC joint venture aligned and working well as a team as well as to address the significant cultural awareness issues that were apparent.

The second step was to get the broader team with the owner together to create alignment across the team. While this step was essentially a repeat of the alignment exercises for the joint venture team, it was an important review of the decisions that the leadership group had made adding clarification to address concerns and issues raised by the team.

Result: The result that was a clear improvement in the awareness of the cultural differences in decision processes between the joint venture partners and the synergy that could be realized by making adjustments in the sequence of communications associated with decisions around important decisions. Further, we addressed the issue of trust between the EPC JV and the owners team. The deliverables were:

  • Clear statement of what the leadership of both teams will do to improve collaboration. We have set in motion the behaviors of solving problems and delivering as one team. This workshop will confirm and define those behaviors.
  • A Team Charter that reflects the behaviors that will support success going forward. All other behaviors will be unacceptable!
  • Specific list of tangible action items that construction leadership will take to improve compliance to schedule
  • Clear statement of what must be changed and what action steps will be taken to drive continuous performance improvement

It is important to note that many aspects of project execution were going well and these were acknowledged as follows:

  • The frequency and degree of interaction across the project teams is strong
  • A high engagement level by project staff (their heads and hearts) is evident
  • Good credibility and respect exists among all stakeholders and partners

A key outcome of the joint meeting was a commitment made by the participants to address prioritized opportunities for project improvement. While progress was made on each of these issues during the meeting, there will be continuing effort in the near term to ensure better closure on these items:

  • Further strengthening of open, timely communications and collaboration
  • Schedule alignments, revisions and recovery planning
  • Protocols for issue resolution and escalation
  • Contract revisions and deviations
  • Roles and responsibilities in certain areas

In the ensuing weeks, we saw an increased emphasis on these improvement efforts. The openness and enthusiasm of participants during this meeting indicated a commitment to continual improvement and delivering a world class project. While there are undoubtedly many additional challenges and refinements to come and the group will now approach these needs as "one team".

Cross Team Alignment - Leighton-KBR-Chevron Alignment

This case study occurred on the Chevron LNG Project called Gorgon in western Australia. Leighton had the contract to put in the underground utilities for the project on Barrow Island. The situation was that they were running very late and...

Situation: This case study occurred on the Chevron LNG Project called Gorgon in western Australia. Leighton had the contract to put in the underground utilities for the project on Barrow Island. The situation was that they were running very late and were not able to accurately generate a linear foot of pipe run rate per day that would allow them to catch up. There were multiple reasons for this that included the interruptions that they were incurring due to the daily changes in availability of various parts of the site. This was controlled by the EPC contractor KBR. The resultant status was that everyone was pointing fingers at everyone else. They were of course justified in that collectively, they were not working together.

Task: The task was for us to pull the leadership for Leighton, KBR, and Chevron together to change how they were working together.

Action: The action steps that we took were in two steps. The first step was to get the senior leadership for the project together for the three organizations and agree that they were either going to collectively fail or collectively succeed. There would be no winners individually. We identified that they themselves would have to collectively say this to the team and mean it thus ending the finger pointing.

The second step was to get the middle level managers in the same room together and have the senior managers collectively as ONE TEAM define success. They also had to actively convey the urgency and importance to each of their teams standing in front of them that the group act as ONE TEAM.

The third step was to talk about the concept of win-win and apply this to the challenges that they faced in making a 30-40% improvement in productivity. To do this, the whole room was fully integrated including the senior managers for all three companies at one table. The group worked for two days to come up with a plan to achieve the goal with at least a 60% confidence level. Further, the communication going forward with regard to the supervisors monitoring the progress and reporting EACH MORNING to the senior managers if they sensed that they were off track was established.

Result: When they left the room after two days, they were committed to act as one team. Though not everyone believed that it would be a reliable path, they all believed that they had NO ALTERNATIVE but to make it work. The changes in how they worked were implemented immediately and the productivity levels changed almost within a week. There was some need for realignment of work teams but that was accomplished in that first week.

Last, the senior level managers held themselves accountable for not "bad mouthing" other parts of the team and for working together to resolve the financial elements of construction contracts. They separated the financial resolution from the team that was delivering in the field and thus ended some of the animosity that was being created.

Team Maintenance - Quarantine Team

This case study occurred on the Chevron LNG Project called Gorgon in Western Australia. KBR had the contract to deliver quarantine compliance of the project to...

Situation: This case study occurred on the Chevron LNG Project called Gorgon in Western Australia. KBR had the contract to deliver quarantine compliance of the project to the environmental agencies of the Australian government to build the new plant on a Class A Environmentally protected island called Barrow Island.

  • Due to its isolation from mainland Australia and protection afforded under its statutory status, Barrow Island is one of the most important conservation reserves in Western Australia. It is an "A-class" reserve, the highest level of conservation protection available for Crown land in Australia. Once a national park or class A nature reserve is made, mining leases and general purpose leases cannot be granted over them without the consent of both Houses of Parliament, and actual mining cannot take place within them without specific permission of the Minister for Environment. This occurred in 2003, when a portion of the reserve was excised in order to facilitate the Gorgon gas development program

In effect, the challenge of the quarantine team was to put in place systems and procedures that when implemented ensured the following results:

  • No introduced non-indigenous species
  • Successfully eradicated all intercepted species
  • The reputation of the project is enhanced.
  • Internal and external support is high.
  • No significant quarantine incidents
  • No significant intercepts
  • No significant procedural deviations
  • QMS serves as model - new benchmark

This had never been successfully accomplished in history.

Task: The task was for us to work with the leadership of the Quarantine team to get the team up and running effectively as quickly as possible and to maintain it in that state over the five year cycle for the project. The clarity of the objective of the project and their role in accomplishing the objective was critical. The objectives of the alignment exercise were:

  • Reinforce and build the Team Alignment to their objectives.
  • Celebrate the success of the team while focusing on the theme "In Pursuit of Excellence".
  • Focus on identifying indicators / signs going forwards of both the team's success and early identification of possible issues
  • Clarity around the future role of Quarantine as the project matures internationally.
  • Focus on Operational Discipline as the foundation of Excellence.
  • Team alignment and team building amongst the geographically spread team members.

The workshop was designed and timed to build and sustain capability and high performance and to better equip members to fully participate in the pursuit of excellence.

Action: The action step that we took was to get the broader team together to create alignment across the team. This was difficult in that the team was spread across four sites. Because the team had to maintain continuity at the sites, we did the workshop in two identical installments with the leadership team present at both.

Result: The result that was created was an aligned team, in touch leadership, far lower turnover among the team, and excellent communication lines. The stated deliverables were:

  • Reinforced shared understanding of:
    • - High Performance Teams: characteristics, benefits & development
    • - What is Excellence for Quarantine and how do we measure this.
  • Commitment and tools to ensure early identification and proactive resolution of issues.
  • Clarity around High Level Key Milestones for 2012 & 2013.
  • Build and support commitment to continue to build and work as a High Performance Team

This team further agreed to repeat team alignment every six months to continue to incorporate the new members that were rapidly expanding the group. At these team alignment sessions, additional work was done to define and communicate a common direction for the team. At each of the ensuing workshops a key theme driven by their current challenges in the field was identified to build the workshop around.

Coaching and Leadership Development

We received a call from a former client that had become the President of a medium sized fabrication company. The company was having resounding success across all of it's product lines and from every measure was excelling. The issue was that the leadership team had...

Situation: The identity of this case will remain confidential for reasons that will become obvious. We received a call from a former client that had become the President of a medium sized fabrication company. The company was having resounding success across all of it's product lines and from every measure was excelling. The issue was that the leadership team had allowed some very destructive behaviors and habits to manifest in their communications with each other. By the time we arrived, the situation had grown to a significant problem.

Task: The task was for us was to assess the behaviors of each of the senior leadership team members utilizing a survey tool and provide coaching and feedback to them individually and to them collectively. The later took the form of a Team Alignment Workshop.

Action: The action steps that we took were in two steps. The first step was to utilize a Leader 360 Survey tool to gather feedback for each of the Sr. Leaders including the president that included perceptions of their leadership style by those that they reported to, their peers, and their direct reports. The results of the survey were put into individual reports and provided to each of the leaders on a confidential basis. They were then each challenged to reflect on the feedback and put a development plan together for themselves to reinforce the positive feedback and address the negative feedback.

The second step was to get the leadership group together to work on their collective communication and decision making styles as well as to build the team's commitment and comfort level with each other to work together. The objectives of this workshop were as follow:

  • Build awareness of communication styles and means and methods to improve communication across different styles within the Leadership Team
  • Define behaviors and actions that leaders will need to take in order operate as a high performance team and to gain commitment and support from the rest of the organization for the vision and plan for the future
  • Identify and discuss the potential challenges that will need to be overcome in operationalizing the plan, as well as the specific adjustments needed to ensure the success of the key strategic initiative

Result: The result that was created was felt immediately. Even while in the room, some communication patterns changed which caused people to smile and acknowledge the effort. When the group left the room, they were committed to act as one team. Though not everyone believed that it would be a reliable path followed consistently by each person, they all believed that they had NO ALTERNATIVE but to make it work. The changes in how they communicated were implemented immediately. There was some need for person to person conversation and putting past conflict behind them.

Last, the senior level managers held themselves accountable for not "bad mouthing" other parts of the team and for working together to resolve the technical challenges they faced as a group.

Strategic Development

We received a call from a former client that had become the President of a medium-sized fabrication company. The company was having resounding success across all of its product lines and from every measure was excelling. The challgenge was for the leadership team to re-cast...

Situation: We received a call from a former client that had become the President of a medium sized fabrication company. The company was having resounding success across all of its product lines and from every measure was excelling. The challenge was for the leadership team to re-cast their vision of what the company would become going forward and set a strategy for achieving the new goals. This strategy was then carried to the board of directors for the corporation for approval.

Task: The task was to create a dynamic set of possible areas of business expansion of Lamprell's core business lines into new, more competitive market sectors. One of the intentions for the workshop was to tap into the best thinking and innovative ideas of the team members in developing strategies for refining and successfully implementing the CEO's Vision for the company's future. This broader set of possible directions was then narrowed down to a concise Company growth strategies.
In addition, it will be important for the Leadership Team to emerge from the workshop seamlessly aligned around the identified growth strategies and committed to working together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and collaboration. The rest of the organization must see them in lock step supporting the vision for business growth and the plan that has been developed.

Action: The action steps that we took were in two steps. The first step was to interview members of the leadership at all three levels to get a clear picture of where we were starting from with regard to visibility of the current plan, perceptions of openness to participating in the planning process, and perceptions of direction for the company that might already exist.
The second step was to get the leadership group together to build awareness of the existing situation (The success story!), build awareness of the need for change (The need for a Strategy for the Company for the Future!) and clarity around their role in the process. The objectives of this workshop were as follow:

  • Engage the company's Senior Leadership Team in identifying key strategies for growing the business and ensuring robust financial performance in the future.
  • Develop a high altitude plan for moving forward to implement the key strategies identified.
  • Identify and discuss the potential challenges that will need to be overcome in operationalizing the plan, as well as the opportunities to be gained.
  • Define behaviors and actions that leaders will need to take in order to gain commitment and support from the rest of the organization for the vision and plan for the future.

Result: The result that was created was a clear statement of strategic goals for the company. This did not take the form of one objective but rather five strategic initiatives around the growth and optimization of the profitability of existing product lines, expansion of existing product lines into new markets, and the longer term development of new product lines. In addition, there was general excitement and optimism regarding the general adjustment in the perceptions of the second and third level leadership team members. They had a clear understanding that they were being asked to participate in setting direction for the company and then in turn for creating a tactical plan to achieve the strategic goals.

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