Bridging The Connectivity Gap

10 November, 2015

Connectivity

“Connectivity is perhaps the biggest opportunity of our time. As technology makes the world smaller, it’s clear that the countries and companies that connect the best- either in terms of, say, traditional infrastructure or through digital networks – are in the driver’s seat” Serwer. A (2014:7)

Digital Connectivity The above statement by Andy Serwer; Managing Editor of Fortune magazine captures the strategic value connectivity holds for those who embrace it. But I believe “connectivity” goes further than just “digital connectivity”.

If you would like your company to be in the “driver seat” and you are depending on digital networks across the face of the earth you may realise that success is not guaranteed.

My recent exposure to a multi-billion dollar petro-chemical Mega Project planned for Lake Charles in Texas, highlighted the naivety of some Project Managers that think they can rely on digital connectivity only.

Our Business Leaders create the impression that money buys you the best brains to get the job done. This simple and uncomplicated paradigm makes sense in the world of Digital Connectivity. There exists a viewpoint that by populating the Project Team with the most revered engineers the world has to offer, success is a given. With only 30% of Mega Projects being successful, where cost overruns, schedule slipping and inferior quality is the order of the day it is time that our Business Leaders acknowledge a blind spot.

How do you know if you suffer from “Engineer’s Blind Spot” (EBS)?

Do you give attention to things that are factual, quantitative, critical, rational, mathematical, logical or analytical? If most of these constructs appeal to you, chances are good that you do not give attention to things that are, emotional, symbolic, spiritual, intuitive or interpersonal. If this rings true, chances are good that you suffer from EBS.

By not having “interpersonal” and “emotional” on your radar screen as business leader or project manager you project may suffer from high personnel turnover, internal competition, demotivated team members and lack of teamwork. These inter alia manifest in cost-, schedule- and quality-challenges.

Project Managers are quick to appoint “resources” that display technical prowess but; they are equally quick to fire them for their behaviour-related mistakes; not following protocol, talking to the wrong person, not giving feedback, not executing in time, not having a strong enough opinion.

Getting into the “driver’s seat” and staying there requires digital as well as metaphysical connectivity.

Metaphysical Connectivity

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”. If you suffer from EBS, chances are good that you would focus on “sum of the parts”. This would manifest in a mechanistic and contractual style of managing and leading.

You know that your team is not performing well, but by smart justification you may reason that they are there to work, you are not a babysitter and people can always be replaced. You may achieve good results and if you hit the wave at the right time you may be promoted and leave your successor with the aftermath of unsustainable business practice that delivered good results.

If you are sincere in achieving sustainable results especially in the project environment you have to engage together with your team in a programme that enhances Metaphysical Connectivity.

The concept “connectivity” implies communication. Although Digital Connectivity suggests communication it basically comes down to the exchange of information. If you suffer from EBS you may reason that exchanging information is all that is required to guarantee project success.

Effective communication requires metaphysical connection. Experiential learning involves participants physically and emotionally. This methodology optimises metaphysical connectivity by creating a safe environment for participants to foster sound relationships that will stand them in good stead when they can only rely on digital connectivity.

In other words, when you have identified your Project Team members, first establish team alignment by exposing your team to team building. The case study below is proof of the positive effect, coaching of the project leader together with structured team building has on Project Management.

Case Study: Can EBS be cured?

When Andre was appointed as Project Director of a Mega Project he realised that he had to do things differently to improve the outcomes of the Project. His Herrmann Brain Dominance thinking style analyses indicated a preference for left-brain thinking. He soon realised that he has to focus more on right-brain-related and that he could be the victim of EBS. He asked for help. We embarked on a journey that involved many hours of personal coaching and aligning his team through experiential team building.

What follows is proof that a disciplined approach to team development can benefit a Mega Project Team.

Learning and change generated during the third phase of the Team Alignment Strategy designed and developed by TBi to optimise Project Team alignment. The purpose of this report is to provide the client with visual and empirical feedback to translate return on investment of behaviour–based training and alignment.

Included is a comparison of the team dynamics: before the first alignment session in May 2013 up until June 2014. These results were obtained by administering a version of the Team Development Inventory (TDI) Assessment, which each team member completed.

Interpretation of data

Figure 1 provides a visual comparison of how team members subjectively rated their team values from forming to performing stages of team development. The blue graph represents baseline behaviour, any construct measuring lower or equal to this requires urgent attention.

The green graph represents a measurement taken on June 2014.

The red graph displays the average of previous measurements:

• After Phase 1 – May 2013
• After Phase 2 – November 2013
• Flash survey – February 2014

The green graph maintains a similar shape to the red graph. This is proof that the newly formed behaviour is being sustained. Click on the graph to see it in full size.

After-Phase-3

Conclusion

Figure 1 clearly indicates that high levels of teamwork are being maintained. Leadership (Andre) has never deviated from the initial plan to establish a high performance team culture that reflects the values depicted in Figure 1.

Andre eagerly adapted his style to accommodate his team and approaches each member honestly with a genuine desire to understand. This approach paved the way for team members to apply the same principles, and is proof of the high measurement of the construct: respect. When a leader is authentic and acknowledges his/her own humanity, the team will respond in the same way.

This team is a high performing team and every member has earned the respect of the leader and each other.

I have noticed a general concern amongst Engineers about the absence of soft skills training at under graduate level. The fact is that your career as Engineer and more specific Project Manager will be determined by how you manage your Engineer’s Blind Spot (EBS).

Should you wish to discuss the content of the article with Dr Heunis please contact him on +27 12 807 0242 / chris@team.co.za

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