maintenance tasks. That prompted discussions that
ultimately led to a revised design simplifying some
aspects while making others more user-friendly.
“Through disagreements, we optimized the final
solution,” he says.
This more collaborative corporate culture has
also benefited CH2M’s recruiting process. Hiring
managers tout employee opportunities to contribute to the project planning process, which is especially appealing to millennials, he says.
“We tell them we expect everyone on our team
to express their point of view and be able to
negotiate with other team members,” Mr. Orsenigo says. Turnover in the Mexico City office has
decreased enormously, and “that tells us our efforts
are working.” PM
When Mr. Orsenigo came to the company’s
Mexico office five years ago, he was surprised by
how quickly teams built consensus on major decisions and the total lack of disagreement in meetings.
Initially he thought agreement was manufactured
to please him, but later he realized it is common
practice in Mexico to defer to leaders.
So he began a campaign to change that attitude.
It began with simple things, like monthly movie
nights after which the team would discuss whether
they liked the film or not. “It created an opportunity
to disagree in a safe way,” Mr. Orsenigo says. Then
he started holding more specific discussions, asking
team members to offer their opinions about project
strategies. He made sure everyone had an opportunity to speak and was acknowledged for adding value
to the conversation. Over time the culture shifted,
and now project teams often clash about planning
or execution approaches before reaching consensus.
The benefits are clear, Mr. Orsenigo says. Hashing through an argument helps project teams identify the best solutions to problems—not just the
one touted by the most senior person in the room.
On a recent project, for example, some aspects of
the pipeline system design didn’t account for certain operational requirements, like easy access for
“The Mexican management style
is very authoritarian, but we
believe a corporate culture must
be collaborative to be effective.”