Beyond ISO 44001 – Building A Collaborative Culture

Collaboration is something everyone thinks is a good idea. The questions for the infrastructure sector is how far are we prepared to go and how hard are we prepared to work to make it successful?

By definition, collaboration means working with other people. The further those people are from your own team or organisation the harder you have to work to build relationships, communication channels and processes. And because it’s fundamentally about how people behave day-in, day-out, it’s very much about the company culture.

There’s a trade-off between the extra effort needed and potential dilution of control, with the value that collaboration could add. But whose value? Value added to the project, the customer or your own organisation?

These considerations matter. At the extremes, collaboration could deliver added value to the overall project without delivering a direct benefit to an individual contractor – it could even make their job harder. What does that imply for contractual terms?

ISO 44001 and Frameworks

Transactional, project-by-project procurement that is focused on lowest cost outcomes isn’t the kind of soil where collaborative behaviours grow. The Construction Playbook rightly makes the connection between procurement frameworks and collaboration.

Value creation flows from investment. And this requires healthy work pipelines and viable margins.

The ISO 44001 standard is demanding but it provides the framework to take collaboration from an aspiration to something meaningful that can be tracked and measured. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Osborne is proud of the fact that in May 2020 we maintained our ISO 44001 certification. There were no action items and the reviewers made a special mention that an: ‘excellent process is in place for the identification and development of new opportunities using the Opportunities Review Tool.’

The tool referred to is our IO app and the process that surrounds it. We make this freely available to our customers and partners so that improvement is a collaborative process.

We still have a long way to go – as a business and a sector. Having a standard helps us benchmark where we are. And the benefits of our collaborative approach are already visible through numerous projects.

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