There was rarely any attempt to establish collaboration between organisations and their teams. This promotes self-interested thinking with differentiated objectives being pursued by those involved.
Different geographical, national and social cultures and groups operate quite different beliefs and values to those exhibited by western cultures. Many are more motivated to pursue the common good and the wellbeing of the group rather than to concentrate their efforts on self-interest.
Cognitive and age diversity
With the significant challenges currently facing the engineering construction sector we need to seek new approaches and more effective ways to do things. Now is the time to discard the ‘play book’ and creatively look for alternative solutions.
If we continue to assemble project teams that consist predominantly of engineers or with the majority of members who have a significant period of experience in the engineering construction sector, we are likely to be constrained by convergent thinking.
Project solutions will continue along the lines of ‘the way we have always done things’ and we will ultimately fail to deliver.
To foster an environment of divergent, creative thinking we need to build teams that have varied skills, knowledge and experiences. We need to recruit people from other sectors and backgrounds and a blend of experience.
It is likely to be the younger people in the team, who are not constrained by the experiences of the past, who will be able to spark the creative thinking that is needed.
Understanding behavioural differences and benefits is key. Project delivery teams with healthy gender, cultural, social group, cognitive and age diversity may be more open to integrated, collaborative working and avoid adversarial behaviours.
Team selection processes are clearly important but integrated, collaborative project delivery teams also need to be supported through their development and as they identify and commit to aligned project goals.
Rather than years of engineering construction industry experience being the core focus in recruitment, we need to prioritise building a diverse team – one that can think creatively, address issues and collectively solve problems rather than falling back on the mantra of ‘that’s how things are always done’.
Author: Tony Maplesden BSc CEng FIMechE FAPM FInstLM
References: I Don’t Agree, Michael Brown, ISBN 978-0-85719-765-8