Bernadette Williams, PMP, works in the I T services
office of the project management and planning
department at the Washington Department of
Ecology, Olympia, Washington, USA.
also checked in often with team members, sometimes as a group and sometimes one on one, to
ensure they shared the vision. When I saw warning signs—low team energy, lack of engagement
and frustration—that the vision had been lost, I
brought the vision back to the forefront.
2. Build trust
A good project manager plays a major role in
developing a highly functional project team. Trust
is essential to that process. To build trust, you
must develop a relationship with every team member and genuinely care about each person. With
my project team, I strove to be an active listener,
trying to hear what others were saying rather than
what I wanted to hear. I managed my own emotions and exercised patience. All of these things
led to a team that trusted me.
3. Look for the win-win
Standardizing processes required negotiating a
new way of doing business. Focusing the team on
the outcome to be achieved instead of the steps to
get there was the key to finding win-win solutions.
When conflict arose on my team, I shifted the
focus to the issue and away from the personalities.
I encouraged team members to fully articulate
their positions, both the pros and cons. By doing
this, I fostered an environment in which team
members could safely debate the merits of each
position without fear of personal attack.
As a team, we were able to successfully standardize the business processes and implement
the COTS grant and loan application system with
minimal customization. My organization is now
reaping the benefits it sought: efficient and automated processing of a huge portfolio of grants and
When our organization recently undertook a data center construction project, we kept one principle at the center of our efforts: The customer is
the final recipient of the project. Because construction workers see the product before delivery to the
customer, we realized we had an opportunity to
anticipate what the customer was going to experience. By not just hiring but partnering with workers to execute the project, we were able to learn
about problems in real time and reduce risks for
This approach has been practiced
successfully in other industries, including manufacturing, textile and automotive, and is the underlying philosophy
of the Toyota Production System. We
had been using it in construction for
some time, but this was the first time
we’d used it on such a large project.
And this project featured plenty
of risk. Plans for the US$1.2 billion data center
included a US$120 million electrical design and
build component. No single electrical contractor could have carried out this phase alone, so
we assembled a team comprising six contractors.
Adding to the risks, each contractor had different
accounting and project tracking systems, and the
team included 370 electricians on the job site.
Having worked with many construction trade
To optimize risk reduction, empower all contractors to
flag problems as soon as they’re discovered.
By Perry Daneshgari and Heather Moore
risk in the
Continued on next page