A Fortune 50 oil company was constructing a Liquefied Natural Gas plant off the NW coast of Australia. Total installed cost would be 65 Billion USD, the world’s largest capital project ever for the industry.
During the construction phase of this Project, the relationship between the leadership teams of the Prime Contractor and the Lead Mechanical Contractor became strained and acrimonious. Joint meetings were characterized by blaming, finger-pointing and a lot of defensive anger. The oil company that owned the project became concerned about the dysfunctional communication and the potential for deadlines being missed, costs escalating and other performance related issues arising.
- Serious conflicts existed between the two Project Directors, as well as strained relationships at the functional interface levels.
- Neither company’s leaders were willing to take any responsibility for contributing to the problems.
- Participants had no understanding of how their behavior was perceived by the other team, nor how their behavior was impacting the performance of the other team.
- Tercon designed a one-day “Clear the Air” workshop.
- Both teams were required to complete the Cross-Team Alignment Survey™ prior to the workshop.
- The facilitator established and enforced Ground Rules that kept the discussion solution-focused, constructive, and focused on what was best for the success of the overall Project.
- After the air had been cleared during the workshop, the Project Directors committed to meeting bi-weekly. A standing agenda item was agreed to be – How well are we working together? How well are our teams working together?
- Quicker identification and resolution of issues began to occur. At the end of six months, costs had been reduced by approximately 12%. The schedule was accelerated by six days.
- Problems were being discussed openly and conflicts resolved early, rather than allowing them to “simmer” and distract team members or erode project performance.
- At the six-month check-in, Tercon learned that the two Project Directors had developed a relatively healthy degree of respect for and trust of each other, and all but one of the functional interface pairs reported that their communication and problem-solving efficiency had improved.
- Additionally, the Deputy Director for Downstream requested that Tercon conduct the same Cross-Team Alignment Workshop between the Owner company and two other contractors to improve alignments and ensure efficient project performance.
Specific actions implemented included
Weekly review meetings were restructured, agendas and expected meeting outcomes are communicated to participants in advance, the “right” participants are attending meetings, coaching for contractor skill gaps, and change communications are cascaded throughout the organization. The overall quality of team communications increased by 27% as measured by TPl’s Project Team Alignment Survey™. Sustainable improvement outcomes are: productivity and efficiency have increased in the contractor organization, and collaboration between contractor and owner teams has improved.