Who’s Your Tribe?

A facilities director, a contractor, an architect and a development director walked into a (breakfast) bar and began a frank conversation about the things each of us do that drive the other ones crazy when trying to get a project going.  No, it’s not the punchline of a joke, although the conversation was at times as hilarious as it was instructive; plus it was interesting enough to draw a crowd of over a hundred eavesdroppers/contributors at a national facilities conference.

On the way home from the conference I was reflecting on the things that made this panel a success and recognizing that they were also the things that make a project a success: common purpose, enough trust to allow for vulnerability, open communications, and acceptance of shared responsibility for the outcome.  In other words, we were united in the understanding that, for the purposes of this particular 90 minutes on this particular day, we were all members of the same tribe –  built environment professionals – and it was our job to understand and inform each other about how we can work well together.

So often projects go south because instead of aligning ourselves with our project teammates, we identify with our particular discipline, lumping all other disciplines, and occasionally the client, into the broad category of “them”.  When the latter happens you end up with the equivalent of a group of people standing on a sinking ship arguing about who punched the whole in the boat in an effort to assign both blame and risk to one of “them” .  When the former happens, you focus on fixing the hole because you know that, at the end of the day, all project partners will share the risk.    Personally, I think the former is how it should be.

The best project experiences are those in which honorable people develop a bond driven by mutual respect, shared purpose and commitment to collaboration.  They recognize that it’s all human beings on this team and that each of us is tasked with giving our best effort to the assignment and the benefit of the doubt to each other.  Sounds like a tribe I want to join.  How about you?

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Filed under project management, team, tribe

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