Updated: Aug 28
We all know that the very best construction projects, the ones that win all the awards, have two things in common: a stunning design and an efficient build.
The designers and the contractors are all essential to the project but they have different priorities. This can lead to conflict and project failure.
The key to making these two sides of the project work together in harmony is to have a great project manager. Someone who knows how to get the best out of both sides working together. We call this know-how the Iconic Filter.
Ingredient 1: Set Your Designers Free
Without a spectacular design, your project will never get off the ground. You need to nurture your creative team. They need the freedom to innovate and experiment to produce breath-taking designs.
What they don’t need is to be bogged down with all the practicalities. Those will be front-of-mind for the build team whose job is to turn these inventive designs into reality.
Good designers are creative and visionary. You must give them the freedom to design something truly original.
Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is Professor of Business Psychology at University College London and Columbia University. In Seven Rules for Managing Creative-But-Difficult People he tells us ‘Don’t constrain your creative employees. Don’t force them to follow processes or structures. Let them work remotely and outside normal hours - don’t ask where they are, what they are doing or how they do it’.
Ingredient 2: A Great Delivery Team
The success of a building project depends on a committed, competent and efficient delivery team. This team will be made up entirely of process-driven professionals. They must turn the creative vision of the designers and architects into a reality, within the constraints of time-scales and budgets.
Your delivery team will quickly be frustrated by the ‘difficult’ designer who keeps changing his or her mind or, even worse, produces a concept that will be very difficult to implement. A project can very easily be delayed - or even derailed - by fighting between these two parties. Even though they ultimately have the same goal, they have very different working methods.
To get your designers and delivery team working well together, you need a great project manager.
Ingredient 3: The Iconic Filter
We recently met with a prospective new client, a well known high street retailer of cosmetics, who pride themselves on being visionary, innovative and, well, a bit quirky. They told us that they weren’t interested in all the ‘corporate stuff’ and didn’t want to be bothered with processes and timetables and the suchlike.
However, they do want their new store to be perfect and they won’t achieve that without all the processes that ensure a smooth building programme.
We explained how Iconic’s project managers act as a filter to help communication between the creative team on the one hand and the delivery team on the other, translating and mediating between these two branches of the project. We consider everyone's requirements and give everyone the information they need, without the creative team being stifled by process and without the delivery team being frustrated by unpredictability and changes of mind.
We start by identifying everyone’s objectives, even when they conflict, allowing everyone to have their voice heard.
It's amazing how often seemingly conflicting objectives really do interlink, especially when they have been teased out in a relaxed atmosphere with someone who understands where they’re coming from and has the insight to think ahead.
Inevitably some of the objectives will conflict but that isn’t the end of the world. The project manager looks at the conflicting objectives to see if there is a commonality of direction.
If there is, great! Then it’s easy to demonstrate to the other parties in the project how everyone has the same goal, even when objectives at first looked incompatible.
Avoiding The Path To Failure
Beware! If there is no cohesive direction, you may be heading down the dreaded path to conflict and failure. This is where the project manager needs to deploy all his or her skills of mediation, bringing everyone towards a unified purpose.
Once a common direction has been found, everyone involved will be in a much better frame of mind to compromise. They will be able to make those compromises without too much pain. A workable plan can then be created that everyone can commit to and deliver successfully.
When there is conflict like this over the objectives of a project, it is often tempting to paper over the cracks in the hope that everyone will see sense further down the track. This just sows the seeds of destruction. Buried conflict will always come back to haunt the project and make it fail.
To learn more about the Iconic Filter and our unique approach to project management, please give us a call. We'd love to hear from you! To get started, please go to our contacts page.
Director of Marketing at Iconic Project Management Limited. We specialise in retail, leisure and commercial construction: building or refurbishing your perfect premises.