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Collaboration – are you sure?!

“Collaboration is easy isn’t it?”

“Collaboration is not what we need – define the task, get the people and processes in place and just get on and do it!”

These are just two quotes I have heard recently that made me question whether there is enough meaningful debate about the merits, or otherwise, of Collaboration. And I stress, “meaningful debate” – there is no shortage of forcefully expressed entrenched views.

BS11000, the British Standard for Collaborative Business Relationships, outlines specific phases to refine process, reduce duplication and address creation of additional value. Registrations for the Standard are growing in number – but what is driving this? Is the growth driven by the perceived need to comply (to pass procurement hurdles) or the desire to formalise how and when organisations develop relationships, to really optimise the benefits of joint working?

Surely no one can claim that they have never enjoyed good outcomes from collaboration; but equally, no one can claim they have never had bad experiences can they?

That is why I am looking forward to chairing the Major Projects Association’s seminar entitled “Collaborative Working on Major Projects” in London on 13th March 2013. Speakers include Chris Odam from the Institute for Collaborative Working, Suzannah Nichol MBE from the National Specialist Contractors’ Council, Dr Karen Jarman from 4Pi and Associate Faculty, Cranfield School of Management and Liz King from Mott MacDonald.

In addition, there are approximately 100 delegates at senior level who represent a broad and deep cross-section of all industries and sectors. I am hopeful that, with such a group of experienced and (I trust) opinionated executives, we can open up a meaningful debate that will move the agenda from rhetoric to action – in so doing, businesses can become more sophisticated in deciding when to collaborate and how.

It will be interesting to see how the debate and action continues.

Brendan Morahan

Brendan Morahan is an experienced construction project and business leader.

He has led teams delivering annual turnover of £400m, and led business growth during economic downturns.

As Executive Board Director at Taylor Woodrow Construction, Brendan led a focus on value as opposed to volume, helping the company win BAA’s 10-year £6.9bn capital framework, as well as managing the successful integration of acquisitions into the group.

An experienced and committed proponent of collaborative working and long-term commercial relationships, he knows what can make – or break – the fortunes of a successful business.

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