This page is part of our decommissioning toolkit.

  • Explicit no surprises, no blame culture
  • Engage people to make no-blame, high challenge culture live through behaviour
  • Prepare for and manage resistance and slip back
  • Engage supply chain

Engaging those involved in the projects and developing a culture that supports a collaborative approach was identified as an important enabler in all the case studies.

For many this included the participation of project teams to identify the characteristics of a successful project culture and the values and behaviour required to support it. In a number of instances the definition of this culture also facilitated the development of measurement criteria i.e. Culture & Climate Surveys.

  • Terra Nova – Culture developed through team-building process.
  • Shearwater – Invested in ongoing management of cultural issues including relationship.
  • Andrew – Investment in developing relationships and trust – time and money.
  • Coryton – Culture and values defined and forgotten until there was a crisis.

Several of the case studies experienced projects investing significantly in cultural alignment and common ways of working at the beginning of a project and than less so as the project got fully underway.

They then found that resistance to new ways of working emerged later, often under pressure, prompting them to invest further to deal with emerging crises.

There is a general tendency to think that the job of managing relationships is done when the initial investment is made, when in fact the investment needs to be sustained to cope with the expected later slip-backs.

The benefit of experienced external facilitators was recognised, which added to the cash cost. On Terra Nova team-building investment as well as investment in training was linked to cost savings overall to maintain a business discipline.

The Gold Standard enabler – “A no surprises and a no-blame culture” was reinforced by all interviewed who were clear that it can only be achieved through the development of trust. There is a strong link between this element of the Collaborative Relationship Model and both Project Leadership and Behaviours because trust is primarily achieved through support and role modelling from leaders and especially through their own behaviour.

Respondents also indicated that involving all the supply chain, including contractors, was important to spread the desired project culture fully. It also demonstrated, particularly in those projects that were deemed to be “unachievable,” that early integration supported innovation, decision-making, and the general collaborative approach.

This aligns with the experience of many organisations currently recognising the benefits of developing more collaborative relationships across the supply chain, not only with their clients.

  • Clair – Effective early relationships with suppliers.
  • Britannia – Give and take with contractors.
  • E4 – “Whole team” approach.

The development of a culture of openness and high challenge frequently meant the need to manage change effectively. This included the need to manage resistance that was sometimes obvious from the start e.g., “Procurement Department not able to come on board with this different way of working”.

It is important to be aware of the impact of this resistance on the overall health of the relationship to gauge the best way of responding. There almost always follows a need for strong leadership to understand the causes of resistance and implement actions to reduce the negative impact.

The process of developing the culture was closely linked to developing the appropriate behaviours. Concerning reward and recognition, the research pointed to problems in aligning reward systems from different parent companies as a blocker of successful relationship management.

The difficulties of conflicting with individual corporate policies and systems meant that projects put more effort into other forms of recognition.

Table of contents

Decommissioning toolkit: Table of contents