Trust in coordination - like surface tension is to water

Coordination within civil engineering & development projects is something that is constantly being discussed and most people believe that coordination benefits all parties. But even if we agree, we rarely achieve the desired effects. At the same time, there are many opportunities, but evidently the obstacles are greater. To succeed, one of the prerequisites - trust - between the parties needs to be in place.

Development of a model for coordination

The work with developing models and tools for coordination in urban development & civil engineering projects is constantly ongoing at Ekan Management. From last month's roundtable several insights and ideas emerged and it was established that a common objective was the first of three major deficiencies. The other two deficiencies highlighted were trust and commitment.

Developing and working with this model can be a solid support for all parties in an civil engineering project - both private and public. Of course, the model will need to be adapted for each unique project, but the basic philosophy is that all parties should feel equally responsible for coordination and that no party should pull a heavier load than anyone else. Shared responsibility becomes a key to collaboration.

When you twist and turn on the coordination factors, it becomes clear that nothing is stronger than its weakest link. An organization with overly top-down approach to management, with unaccustomed to trust-based work methods, has even more difficulty in showing trust and collaboration outside the organization. This means that the parties entering a coordination project do so with very different definitions and expectations of trust. Partly how to earn it and partly how to maintain it.

Joint identification of trust

Identifying what trust means jointly is therefore crucial for successful coordination. When situations arise where you believe that different parties have (or have not) shown the others the respect and trust you feel is "right", it is a significantly longer journey to work with trust. Furthermore, it is important to discuss and determine how trust between organizations differs from trust between individuals. There too the parties' input values differ through different control models, follow-up routines and to some extent also business models. In many organizations, there is also a generational shift in which employees with partly new expectations of working life take place. The fact that different individuals have different views on trust is difficult, but just because something is difficult it can not be neglected as the profits are expected to be high.

Trust in practice - the cornerstones

In order for trust to work in practice, it requires that both governing processes and leadership speak the same language. In a coordination project, this means that, in addition to the definition of trust, you need to have a structure for decisions and communication. Above all, there must be a fit between the well-established common objective and how this is communicated and perceived by both managers and employees within the respective party's organization. Transparency is another important ingredient that creates and maintains trust.

By acting with respect and inviting to trust, you have also contributed to influence positive behaviors. Unfortunately, it is not enough to just be happy and openminded. Systematically working with common goals, clear mandates and communication channels is crucial to maintaining trust and mutual respect. Like the surface tension on the water when swimming, trust is a natural support in coordination projects. When trust - the surface tension - fails, it is difficult to stay afloat and recreate what is damaged.

During a civil engineering project, new parties join along the way while others take on a more passive role in the project. Then it is extra important to reconcile the common values and goals that have been set for the coordination and, if necessary, evaluate and update them. By welcoming new parties in an open and transparent way, you lay the foundations for trust, common goals and commitment - the main ingredients for successful coordination.

Ekan's aim in this area is to create a model that gives concrete support to those who have the coordination responsibility for the moment but also to the party the baton is handed over to at a later stage. A model that stakeholders, construction companies, municipalities and property owners can relate to and comfortable with. All to create the sustainable cities and communities of the future.

Are you interested in the coordination issues, maybe you want support for an upcoming project, or are you in a project that needs some support to reduce friction? Then we are happy to help! Click here to receive notifications about news in the area.

At Ekan Management, we work daily and professionally to support and develop organizations in a time of constantly changing conditions. We contribute in business review, process analysis, management models, change management, digitization and portfolio management in real estate, social development and other industries. Welcome to get in touch!