Since the commencement of the Next Generation Estates Contracts (NGECs) in 2014, Amey and the Defence Infrastructure (DIO) have worked closely to embed a culture of mutual respect and understanding throughout both businesses. We have come a long way, and both Amey and the DIO successfully achieved the ISO 44001 collaborative working certification, recognising the strong relationship that exists between both parties. However, we know that there is still more we need to do.
Over the last five years, many events have taken place, all aimed at providing a platform for staff to identify problems, generate ideas, agree solutions and create action plans and our most recent workshop was designed to drill down into what ‘collaborative and co-operative’ working really means.
Attendees included members of Amey’s Regional Prime Defence Senior Management Team and a cross-section of wider teams from our organisation. The session was hosted by Steve Fulcher, Amey’s Business Coherence & Collaborative Working Lead, who guided the delegates through a series of presentations and discussions that focused on collaborative leadership.
Steve said “For collaboration to really work, it’s important that the leaders from our business fully understand and believe in our jointly agreed goals and objectives. They must become role models and empower their teams to make the right decisions, build trusting and open relationships and recognise that everyone has to succeed if the ultimate goals are to be achieved.”
Part of building trust is to develop an understanding of each party’s needs, understanding and being empathetic to frustrations and commit to helping colleagues achieve their objectives. The workshop helped to convey the message that a business that adopts a ‘no-blame’ culture empowers its staff to speak openly about problems and mistakes, creating an environment that actively seeks to remove obstacles and agree a better way forward.
The session ended with an exercise based upon the principle of the Prisoner’s Dilemma whereby an imaginary scenario was used to demonstrate the power of trust. The game demonstrated that completely rational individuals might not co-operate, even if it is within their best interest to do so and provided a framework for understanding how to strike a balance between co-operation and competition - a useful tool for strategic decision making.
To add a little competition to the game, a financial commitment was introduced with the outcome being both enlightening and ultimately costly to those who took part. The £110 raised on the day will be donated to SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity.
Tim Redfern, Amey’s Director of Defence, fully supported the workshop and said “We often congratulate ourselves on our collaborative credentials but this event demonstrates that we still need to do more to fully ingrain the principles of collaborative working. It is the right time to involve everyone into our collaborative programme, not just our Senior Managers.”
As we enter a period of extension of contracts prior to the inception of FDIS, the framework we have enabled will come into sharp focus. Amey and the DIO have committed to working together to learn the lesson of the last five years and aim to set future arrangements off on the right collaborative footing, this event will help ensure we continue in the right direction.
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