2017 CURT Owners Study: A Culture of Excellence

Posted on October 30, 2017 in Owners - 0

This year’s CURT (Construction Users Roundtable) conference was centered around a simple idea: excellence in total project performance. But like any great idea, the steps to bring it to life can be far from simple.

Our annual owners study seeks to outline those steps and figure out how great owners have already made progress. This year’s study explores the key ingredients of project excellence and how to bring it to life.

In our last installment, we defined project excellence and its effects on an organization. Today we’re going to look at one of its greatest starting points: your company culture. We interviewed owners and identified four clear, actionable principles of excellence-friendly culture.


In a collaborative culture, teams are tightly knit groups where all feedback is valued. Our owners emphasized that it starts early, with Jeffrey Woolf at Procter & Gamble describing his team’s “collaborative design sessions” at the start of every project. This team must include representatives from all key stakeholders, as well as the  end user. Some of our respondents used Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) as a way to enable high levels of collaboration.

The idea of collaborative input extends to post-project review. This review process checks on how the asset is operating and what went right and wrong in its construction. Make sure you include all stakeholders, including the A/E/C team for more accurate and granular feedback.


In the context of our study, flexibility manifests in who drives decision-making. Allowing people at the ground level to make project decisions empowers them, improves turnaround time, and can improve the relevancy of said decisions.

We find that a lot of companies tend to cluster decision-making at the top among a select few. While well-intentioned, in practice it leads to a disconnect between those people and those closest to the project, as well as a bottle-neck resulting in delays. To pass that authority down, you need…


In a recent report by the US General Services Administration, trust was revealed as the only consistent factor in project success.

Why is that? Trust creates a sense of safety. It also streamlines projects because people trust that others will do their jobs effectively. There’s no second-guessing, no micromanaging, no perfectionism-driven delays. Trust can be established by strict role clarity and highly trained talent.

Rewarding Risk (and Learning from Failure)

Earlier we talked about post-project reviews, emphasizing the importance of learning from mistakes. But this goes well beyond a meeting: you can integrate these lessons into coaching, training, and more.

The most important thing is that employees are not afraid to fail. They are rewarded for ambition and bold new ideas, and recognize that there is glory in the attempt. When things don’t go as planned, a supportive organization can help them turn it around next time.

You can read the full study here.

About The Author

Author avatar

Kelcey Henderson

As President of Continuum Advisory Group, Kelcey works with capital asset owners, utilities, contractors, engineering firms, building material suppliers, homebuilders, and construction industry associations. Kelcey specializes in strategic planning facilitation and the development of integrated project teams. She is experienced in process improvement efforts, the design and development of dashboards and analytical tools, team assessment utilities, and process and project management frameworks. Kelcey is passionate about collaborative culture development and implementation.