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The Importance of Alignment

Posted on May 20, 2017 in Owners - 0
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One of the core beliefs of Continuum Advisory Group is alignment. Put simply, alignment is all stakeholders in an organization being on the same page. Sometimes its scope is smaller – a two-person partnership, a business unit, or a project team – but the ideas of uniformity and consistency remain the same.

In construction, such alignment is particularly important. Our projects require communication with dispersed internal departments and external vendors, many of whom don’t operate within the same processes.

Today we’re discussing a successful story of alignment, this one from the petrochemical sector. It comes courtesy of Petrochemical Update, and begins in Mexico.

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A Framework for Developing Agility

Posted on April 19, 2017 in General Industry - 0
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Looking at organizational agility is like looking at a spider web. The first level of observation is an entire, beautiful creation, a single unit. It’s just there; you don’t think much about how it was actually built. But look closer at the linkages and threads, and suddenly it seems impossible to create.

Micromanagement of your organization is both impractical and undesirable. You can’t build every corner of it yourself, but you can build the builders. We think our three strategies below – based on the results from our 2016 CURT Owner Trends Study – can help.

It’s important to note that this framework, like the agility it aims for, is not absolute. Your organization has its unique idiosyncrasies. But these should get you and your builders moving in the right direction.

Scanning and Planning

Successful interviewees for our study have one thing in common: vision. While day-to-day operations and lean processes are important, they keep their eyes on possibilities. Kim Flowers (former VP of New Generation Projects and Construction for Southern Company) highlighted Southern Company’s  scenario planning team, a group of people who envision and plan for hypothetical futures. If one of those futures comes true, Southern Company is ready to act.

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E/C/F and the Bottom Line: Measuring Your Impact

Posted on April 4, 2017 in General Industry - 0
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The purpose of owner E/C/F (Engineering, Construction, and Facilities) teams may seem obvious: build stuff so that business happens. You wouldn’t be wrong, in the same way that a computer’s purpose is to “do math fast.” The strategic benefits of that team can be harder to identify. Continuum Advisory Group recently completed a study to uncover these benefits and interview people changing the relationship between E/C/F and the internal clients they serve. Above all, we want to show others how. In our new blog series, we’ll be exploring the results of the study in greater depth. Each blog post is focused on one of the eight identified themes from our interviews with 35 diverse corporations.

In a previous installment, we discussed proving the value of your capital program, specifically as it refers to the bottom line. Today our focus narrows from the impact of your program as a whole to the impact of individuals. Because not only should you know their impact, they should, too!

The Devil Is In the Details

Our interviewees emphasized client inventory of your capabilities. Your internal clients may not even know what to ask of your department, so you may have to answer the question before they ask it. It’s your responsibility to let clients know what you can do.

More specifically, it’s important to go beyond the general. “We’re flexible” or “we can adapt” are mere generalities. If you have a guy on your team who can explain complex concepts in elementary terms, advertise him! If there’s a woman who can make stubborn contractors listen, let people know about her! Putting your capabilities in succinct, easily understood terms will sound much more useful.

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E/C/F and Competition: Benchmarking

Posted on March 21, 2017 in General Industry - 0
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The purpose of owner E/C/F (Engineering, Construction, and Facilities) teams may seem obvious: build stuff so that business happens. You wouldn’t be wrong, in the same way that a computer’s purpose is to “do math fast.” The strategic benefits of that team can be harder to identify. Continuum Advisory Group recently completed a study to uncover these benefits and interview people changing the relationship between E/C/F and the internal clients they serve. Above all, we want to show others how. In this blog series, we’ll be exploring the results of the study in greater depth. Each blog post is focused on one of the eight identified themes from our interviews with 35 diverse corporations.

In our previous installment, we looked inward. We talked about knowing what individuals can contribute, of taking inventory and articulating value. Today we’ll continue some of the navel-gazing, but we’ll also look outward at your competition. Let’s learn how to benchmark.

Know Yourself

Benchmarking does start internally. A large struggle of E/C/F teams is gaining a seat at the strategic table, a place in the boardroom with the numbers people and decision-makers. That does require an ability to articulate the strategic value of your department in solving business needs.

Our interviewees emphasized the importance of metrics. You should measure yourself against previous successes, both your own and those of other departments. But internal benchmarking is inherently limited, because those successes are won with existing rules and thought processes. If you want benchmarking to create breakthroughs, you need to look outward.

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Perspective: Owner and A/E/C Partner Needs – They’re More Alike That You’d Guess

Posted on March 8, 2017 in Owners - 0
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Each year, Continuum Advisory Group partners with the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) to conduct an owner trends study. This year’s study was focused upon Excellence in Total Project Performance, and as we delved into the research an interesting theme arose around owner and A/E/C partner relationships. Specifically, what more these groups needed from one another to achieve project excellence.

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Changing the Conversation: Work-Life Balance in the Building and Construction Industry

Posted on December 29, 2016 in General Industry - 0

Women make up 8.9 percent of the construction workforce.[1] Our industry has an inability to attract women and lack of flexibility may play a bigger part than we’re willing to admit. Changing the conversation around work-life balance will be critical in developing our workforce in the next decade.

Our President and COO, Gretchen Gagel, recently gave a TEDx talk, “The Power to Change the Conversation.” In it she relays the story of a client’s reaction after he learned she was pregnant with her first child. Gagel, who worked as a consultant for a large, predominanatly male firm at the time, stood by as her client asked her boss right in front of her, “Have you begun to look for Gretchen’s replacement?”

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E/C/F and the Bottom Line: Measuring Your Impact

Posted on December 23, 2016 in Owners - 0
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The purpose of owner E/C/F (Engineering, Construction, and Facilities) teams may seem obvious: build stuff so that business happens. You wouldn’t be wrong, in the same way that a computer’s purpose is to “do math fast.”

cultureThe strategic benefits of that team can be harder to identify. Continuum Advisory Group recently completed a study to uncover these benefits and interview people changing the relationship between E/C/F and the internal clients they serve. Above all, we want to show others how.

In our new blog series, we’ll be exploring the results of the study in greater depth. Each blog is focused on one of the eight identified themes from our interviews with 35 diverse corporations.

In our previous installment, we discussed the intangible aspect of an accountable, innovative culture. Culture does the talking, but money makes people listen. So today we’re going to talk about the bottom line, specifically how your E/C/F department can leverage that to increase its standing.

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Moving the Monolith: Organizational Agility

Posted on December 15, 2016 in Owners - 0
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Modern-day companies tend towards size or complexity (the two are not mutually exclusive.) Both paths allow for highly specialized functions and a diverse array of abilities.

This comes at the cost, however, of agility. Capital construction asset owners in particular can integrate engineering, sales, contractor management, and other functions under a single umbrella.  Each function has its own culture and goals that can be difficult to shift on short notice. When this umbrella has to work with the many other limbs of the giant corporate monolith, that shift grows ever more difficult.

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Change Management in an Agile Capital Program

Posted on November 20, 2016 in Owners - 0
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The Dunning-Kruger effect is a psychological phenomenon that reveals a humorous, but worrying part of human nature. It dictates that people often perceive their ability inverse to their actual ability. Those with skill undervalue themselves, and those without overvalue themselves.

Any responsible manager constantly fights against this effect, using personal experience and hard data to gain greater self-awareness. But it can rear its head in one particular arena: change management.

Our 2016 CURT Owner Trends Study focused on change management as it relates to organizational agility, or the ability for a capital construction program to rapidly adapt to new needs. Responses revealed that while we think about change a lot, and talk about change a lot, we don’t always manage it well. And that’s something we need to figure out.

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Innovation, Agility, and Strategic Imperative

Posted on October 31, 2016 in Owners - 0
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The purpose of owner E/C/F (Engineering, Construction, and Facilities) teams may seem obvious: build stuff so that business happens. You wouldn’t be wrong, in the same way that a computer’s purpose is to “do math fast.”

The strategic benefits of that team can be harder to identify. Continuum Advisory Group recently completed a study to uncover these benefits and interview people changing the relationship between E/C/F and the internal clients they serve. Above all, we want to show others how.

In our new blog series, we’ll be exploring the results of the study in greater depth. Each blog is focused on one of the eight identified themes from our interviews with 35 diverse corporations.

In our previous installment, we discussed how E/C/F departments have to sell themselves. But here, the customers are not shoppers or buyers, but rather people within the organization. An innovative, agile E/C/F department will make that pitch much more appealing.

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