Client: A UK utility company.
Measuring the quality of relationships between three organisations provided an effective catalyst for improved delivery. After a relatively short amount of contact time, the improvements demonstrated over a 20-week period made tangible impacts upon how each organisation relates and how smoothly the street works operation runs in the locality.
Renuma was commissioned to work on a three-way relationship between the local team of a utility company, a civil contractor and a local authority. The desired outcome was to strengthen the relationships, so improving the flow and completion of street works.
The improvement project involved three main stages: planning the change by surveying the relational environment, doing the change through facilitated direct contact with the three parties and checking the change through follow up surveying.
- Plan – The various strands of relationship were mapped to identify the most appropriate representatives of each organisation that should be involved. Individuals representing different seniority and role were chosen, to ensure a rounded picture. The participants were brought up to speed with the methodology and their relationships measured using Relational Proximity® tools. Aggregated analysis was used to design two half-day workshops that would address the issues identified.
- Do – Workshops included representatives of each organisation. The relational measurements were used as a framework to facilitate the building of better mutual understanding and cooperation. Renuma designed face-to-face interactions, not only to improve relationship there and then, but also to encourage the development of longer-term actions that would continue to build relational momentum. The process motivated participants to look for ways to overcome issues together rather than awaiting another party’s action or escalating issues to a periodic management meeting. This sense of empowerment allowed the senior managers to address more systemic strategic issues.
- Check – In order to clearly assess whether the three relationships had significantly improved, they were measured again after 20 weeks. This second survey of the relational environment also gave insight into what further improvements could be made in the system.
Relational improvement outcomes
The 20-week relational check measurement showed clear progress in each of the three relationships. Every component of the relationship between the local authority and the other parties had improved. The detailed analysis gave the parties further insight into the ongoing actions that would sustain this improvement.
Operational improvement outcomes
As a result of the work to improve relationships, senior teams reported that previous blockages in effective planning and completion of street works had been removed. The improved communication and mutual understanding arising from the project allowed the backlog of delayed critical works to be cleared. This translated into an increased volume of successfully completed works and cost savings that arose from the avoidance of penalties.
The company commented that it had been an “important project for all involved … it highlighted that the issues were not just with one party, but were with the other two parties as well.”