Affinity Water is the largest water-only supplier in the UK, providing around 900 million litres of water every day to more than 3.6 million people in the Home Counties, parts of London and in Kent and Essex. The company is expected to undertake extensive mains cleaning in order to comply with regulatory requirements – a project which requires input from a range of diverse suppliers.
This project has resulted in awards in 2017.
With five different parties involved, the project had previously been disjointed and not as effective as it needed to be. Affinity Water asked JCP to help develop a single team with clear objectives and agreed way of working, and to embed a collaborative approach which would improve performance and deliver the project’s targets. The work was undertaken during a six-month period.
We undertook a detailed survey of the team, based on our proprietary behavioural survey, which gave us an initial understanding of a current state of play, and a data set for comparison later on in the project. Team members were asked to rate their attitude to a set of statements, which included:
Following this, we organised a two-day challenge which allowed the teams to understand the process and value of collaboration and to use it in practice. Acquiring new behaviours that allowed team members to improve communication, step back and see things clearly, and develop good project practice meant that individuals were more confident, more constructive and more likely to know where to look for help and support as the project continued.
Within four months of JCP’s initial work, the team was outperforming the targets set by the regulator. This resulted in more kilometres of pipeline being cleaned in a shorter space of time.
The data above shows the performance of the programme team in respect to Kms cleaned.
At the start of the project only 43% of team member’s strongly agreed that they enjoyed working in the team.
At the end of JCP’s six month involvement, that figure had risen to 87%.
Likewise, 86% strongly agreed that new people were welcome into the team – and increase of more than 35%.
This is vital, because long-term projects often see key personnel changes, and poor integration can result in missed project targets and consequent penalties from the regulator.
The team were awarded the Innovative Application of Technology award. The judges said:
"Affinity Water’s cleaning programme required them to clean over 900km of pipes in an 18 month period. Implementation of Ice Pigging to clean the trunk main was a huge logistical, operation and technical challenge. With great collaboration, attention to detail and teamwork this programme was successfully completed in March 2017."
The science behind collaborative working
The success of a collaborative approach to projects is down to understanding how people interact and behave towards one another. Positive, pro-active attitudes alongside a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities and open lines of communication improve results – even when projects are carried out over several years and involve high numbers of personnel – many of whom come and go as the project plays out.
We use a number of proven models to suggest, modify and support behavioural change. They give participants the tools they need to understand their own approach, change their behaviour in order to produce a better outcome and reflect on their actions and consequences in order to keep improving.
This includes peer assessment and is based around our Collaboration Framework, which highlights six key areas of behaviour and responsibility.
Speaking and listening in an unconditionally constructive way, appropriately challenging and exploring with respect to others' positions.
Being trusted and trustworthy; sincere and honest and being congruent where you say what you mean and actions are aligned.
Understanding what others want and need and why, the ability to put yourself in another's shoes to create a deep understanding.
Involving and engaging others; building connections and relationships that can withstand even difficult or challenging conversations.
Working towards results that are good for everyone involved as opposed to one party gaining over the others' loss.
The act of feeling and being responsible for and having ownership over an objective or task and your own behaviour.
Positive attitude and behaviour is vital to the success of long-term projects. Defining acceptable behaviours for your project, selecting suppliers consistently and developing, motivating and measuring those behaviours during mobilisation and delivery can transform the way you, your partners and other stakeholders perceive your success.
“JCP helped us to establish important team principles and behaviours. The timing of the first workshops were absolutely perfect - relevant and at the right point to make a difference. It made the team easier to manage and instilled good behaviour. Critically, the team had the ability to reflect and think about their behaviours and how they relate to working towards the common goal. We have come a very long way in a relatively short time, thanks to the approach and support that JCP brings to projects of this complexity.”
Michael Beresford, Affinity WaterDownload a PDF version