For the past 18 months I have been facilitating several project teams on medium and large complex healthcare construction projects in addition to providing other consulting services on projects around the country. Over the next 12 months I will devote several posts on project team facilitation to share concepts, lessons learned, and resources for partnering.
In addition to writing about facilitation I will continue to post articles on government contracting with a special emphasis on compliance and small business topics. Over the past year the top three articles are:
- Standard Form 1413 Statement and Acknowledgement Form
- Government Agency Small Business Mentor Protégé Programs
- The Value of developing a FAR Matrix during proposal development
What is Facilitation
In my previous role as a military Inspector General and Joint Operations Planner, and consultant I have found facilitation very effective in helping military units and teams work through problems and increase efficiency, morale, and readiness. Also, I carry some of my aircrew coordination training from the military in toolkit as a facilitator. I believe the seven critical components of crew coordination carry over to project team facilitation, but four standout as particularly relevant based on my experience:
- Situational Awareness
In general terms project team facilitation can be viewed as the process of an unbiased person helping a group identify, express, and solve problems, make decisions, and improve effectiveness. Several key components of a group include how a group works together, the structure / composition of the team, and topic or subject the team is working on, i.e. the construction of a headquarters complex for the government client.
There are two, of many, factors that can influence the successful outcome of facilitation I would like mention. First, it is important to select a facilitator that fits the group and is acceptable to all members of a group or team. Second, the group members should be open to the concept of facilitation and participate in the sessions. Without them the facilitation effort to move the team to a fully functioning group could move slower than desired.
Benefits of Facilitation
The benefits of facilitation are numerous and often reflect the effort everyone (to include the facilitator) contributes to a successful outcome. To claim any wins resulting from the facilitation effort it is necessary to develop reasonable metrics to monitor the team over time, otherwise it will be difficult to measure any progress. That said, several benefits include:
- More efficient / effective teams
- Better communication between owner – contractor
- Improved problem solving – the entire team owns problems
- Conflicts are resolved at the lowest possible level and those that can’t be resolved are escalated in accordance with the team’s escalation matrix.
For some, a facilitator is just an added expense to the project, but based on my experience of having benefited from facilitation as a project manager and as facilitator the benefits gained far outweigh the direct cost. Often schedule gains can be realized, trouble areas can be identified earlier, and costly delays can be mitigated. These all lead to improved project delivery and can provide for a more enjoyable work environment for the whole team, owner and contractor.