As the day’s discussion began it was soon identified that a specific project was developing scheduling challenges and the Project Manager needed the support of her team to really unpack exactly what was going on and look for potential solutions. The stress of a scheduling issue on a construction project was made clear here as the PM detailed how the specific actions or inaction of contractors and sub-contractors involved can create a real traffic jam when it comes to meeting important deadlines. As different members of the team started asking the PM questions, I was both fascinated and impressed at the precision with which they could jump into a project and start identifying the road blocks. What struck me was that here, in real time I was seeing a “can-do team player” based model of problem solving spring into action. This was not just an academic article talking about the usefulness of following specific steps but instead was the real world application of experience and method.
Problem solving is critical in construction and that morning the team followed a basic flow with this problem that I think was efficient and helpful, it was reminiscent of one that I have seen in pieces by people like Tim Hicks on Mediate.com. It progressed as follows:
- Layout the details of the problem
- Allow team members to ask questions about the project up to that point
- Together determine which identified factors are truly impacting the problem
- Brainstorm as a group potential solutions to these factors
- Determine the best practice moving forward to achieve success
- Identify how this will be followed up on and brought back to the team
It was your basic cycle of problem solving, but it was applied in a timely and detailed fashion so as to provide true support and possible solutions for the PM. I got to see various members of the team draw on their individual strengths, past experience on similar projects or with similar subcontractors, and get creative about to get things moving. There was no talk of fault or focus on potential mistakes made in the project’s progress, instead they focused on what was at hand in the moment and worked as a team to create real world ways this project can be gotten back on track.
There was a sense of satisfaction from the Project Manager as the discussion closed. The different perspectives offered were seen as opportunities and judgments. This is one of the things that we work towards as a team and family at NEC, true collaboration. Our President often remarks that when one of us succeeds, we all succeed, and this is a belief that is carried out daily through the hallways of our office and in the field at our jobs. The cliché states that TEAM stands for “Together Everyone Achieves More” and I think this early morning meeting proved that sometimes even the cheesiest of clichés can hold a ring of truth.
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