For the Design and Construction management course we were asked to write a blog post about one of the subjects of the course. Here you find my contribution. Let me know what you think about it!
During the renovation of the Vondelpark pavilion in Amsterdam the construction workers did a tremendous discovery. They found original passages in the building. The architect saw this as a great opportunity to make the project even more spectacular, but what is the reaction of all the other parties involved? If I were the project leader my first thought would be; go for it, and make sure these findings will end up to be a blessing for the whole building.
Besides the positive point of view there are other parties who have to deal with the additional costs. And besides that, what about the delay on the project? All the extra work and designs that have to be made by the workers and the design team will take a lot of time.
“What’s in the contract?” Some people would have asked. I don’t think a contract can anticipate on this kind of situations. It’s about how you deal with a certain situation and a contract is not going to give you the solution. It’s more about how you’re going to handle in such situations.
Let’s take a look to the chapter of Clegg, Bjokkeng & Pitsis (2012). They compare two types of organizational models with each other, a traditional and an alliance model. If we project these models on the Vondelpark case, we are able to see the different approaches which will follow from the type of organizational model chosen upfront related to the way Clegg et al (2012) is arguing about this.
In this model there is less room for positive thinking, everybody starts seeing problems on the road, especially when that’s about money. Someone has to pay for it, and it’s better not you. The municipality sees the project as an asset and the AVRO sees it as an artefact which makes is hard to get them in the same direction. Due to the different interest and different interpretations of the contract itself, the only way for finding a solution to the problem is to gain trust and find a way to collaborate. Otherwise you’ll probably end up in court fighting for money.
At an alliance contract all major parties share risks and profits. They don’t act as individual representatives of the different parties but act as one entity; they act as a ‘we’. Due to this kind of relationship based on trust, probably the alliance will see this monumental finding as an opportunity instead of a threat. With their positive vibe they will make the best out of it and take their responsibility considering time and costs. In this way the monumental finding will end up in additional quality for the building and the alliance as a whole.
So, pick an alliance model and everything will be fine? I don’t think so. The organizational model of the project is a traditional one but why should we not add some of the organizational aspects of the alliance model. Talking together, try to get all the parties in a positive vibe and help each other out would be a nice addition to the traditional model. In fact, it’s not about the paperwork but about the teamwork. That is one major thing this two examples show. Especially a renovation project has a lot uncertainty, that’s one thing you know for sure. Although the municipality is looking for a way to make money out of this project, they can hardly deny that the monumental value of the passage isn’t something they care about. On the other hand the AVRO would probably embrace this passage as well. It can become even a better design for the ‘home’ they want to create for their members.
Stop blaming, start acting! Make the discovery of the monumental passage into a blessing for all the parties involved instead of letting it become a disaster in court.
Clegg, S., Bjokkeng, K. & Pitsis, T. (2012). Chapter 17: Innovating the practice of normative control in project management contractual relations. In: P. W. G. Morris, J. K. Pinto & J. Sönderlund, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Project Management. Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 475 – 505.
Picture from: tenbraswestinga