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    In a recent article by Kendall Jones, he said:

    Achieving true collaboration can be tricky, it requires careful planning, coordination and buy-in from all parties involved on the project.

    I felt obliged to research and analyze this because as a CEO of a small contracting business, just like the other CEOs of small businesses, I still have a clear birds eye view of everything that happens in my company. Jones’ article led me to mull over the matter and I realized how that statement above actually happens.

    It really could happen that there’s no real or true collaboration even though one thinks there is. So, first of all…

    WHAT IS TRUE COLLABORATION?

    It’s not enough to say that everyone has to be on the same page; that description, for me, is lacking and isn’t accurate enough to explain true collaboration.

    One thing I observed with true collaboration is when you see and feel there is SYNERGY while your individual workers, teams, divisions and third parties are all working together.

    Each person takes responsibility for his/her designated tasks yet knows he/she is an integral part of a unit and takes pride in it. And then, each unit commits to perform optimally knowing they are among other units interdependent of each other. That’s not all, everybody must be conscious and motivated by the common standing goals and is genuinely concerned of the outcome.

    It’s hard to describe Synergy in words without seeing it with your own eyes but true enough, as what Jones said, it requires careful planningcoordination and buy-in from all parties involved.

    HOW DO WE FOSTER TRUE COLLABORATION aka SYNERGY AT WORK

    CAREFUL PLANNING, COORDINATION AND BUY-IN

    It’s very essential to improve productivity. That is why we don’t take things lightly and we exert effort for everything that affects productivity. This includes careful planning on how to foster true collaboration. This is especially true for a medium to large sized contracting firms. Because of their evolved organizational structure, it does seem more challenging. How do we plan these things. Unlike employee satisfaction where we deal and offer satisfaction boosting compensations and activities to affect individual workers, true collaboration requires relationship building between workers and then between departments.

    1) Examine the Organizational Relationship Flowchart and plan collaborative solutions with units/departments that in the actual job scenario, works closely and more often with each other.

    For larger sized construction firms, instead of planning an organization-wide approach or even individual department approach, it would be more effective to group them according to actual interdependency as one cluster. Improve transport of data, communication and most of all, RELATIONSHIPS within each cluster of interdependent parties. Work on streamlining seamless interactions and workflow within. Work on establishing synergy within the cluster. As for collaborating work, it is now easily done using project management softwares and we can take it a step further by implementing some agile methodologies applicable to construction companies. But a good work relationship however is not built easily.

    In smaller firms, it is sufficient to establish solid personal and work relationships between workers who assumes key responsibilities and are very crucial that they get along and support each other.

    In between jobs, exercise drills can be done by those who work in tandem also do this with teams. Drills can also be created for teams to exercise in order to improve collaboration on the project.

    2) Discourage and implement strict policy against alienation, politics and other divisive acts.

    Factors that foster true collaboration are camaraderie, respect, inclusion/belongingness, empowerment and expert-mindedness. In korea, most companies have team get together activities and even write each other letters of praise and feedback during payday. Harboring feelings of being alienated, or feelings of hate are ambiguous factors leading to poor performance of a supposedly collaborative team.

    3) How do we get 100% buy-in from all parties involved on a project?

    Sometimes, important things can be accomplished by doing the smallest of acts. Be motivational. Ever wonder why all basketball teams both pro and amateur, have a battlecry? and they don’t need their coaches just for the strategies and gameplay too but for motivation as well. It’s to lift the spirits high.

    Every project is everyone’s additional achievement and so to lead is definitely to motivate. A good leader must be equipped with motivational skills. Even when dealing with third parties involved, the sure way to get them to buy-in and be supportive of each other is when you approach the third parties and express your intent to be integrated with their efforts and them with yours. Your intentions and your collaborative mood affects others and motivate others to be in on the goal.

    Collaboration is too important a factor that we are investing time and effort and developing or acquiring tools for it. That is why true collaboration is having good coordination and good working relationship. These two combined creates synergy in the workplace.

    What is True Collaboration in Construction and How to Foster it.