It’s not what you know: study

The study, commissioned by the Alliancing Association of Australasia and undertaken by Melbourne’s RMIT University and Victoria University, classifies projects into four quadrants.In the simple first quadrant, operational plans can be implemented through traditional procurement models to deal with “known knowns”, while projects in the fourth and chaotic quadrant are characterised by “unknown unknowns”.Projects falling into quadrants three and four are typically the domain of alliances, while quadrants two and possibly three are suitable for other collaborative models.“Very high levels of collegiality are required to overcome the most daunting constraints in quadrant four and gradually transform the challenges to quadrants three [unknown knowns], two [known unknowns] and ultimately to quadrant one, the point where the client and project teams are reasonably clear on scope, scale and performance expectations,” AAA chief executive officer Alain Mignot said.“Alliance managers and alliance management teams need a strategic view in more complex or even chaotic environments where there are only unknowns.” “Collaboration and the establishment of team synergies are applied to reduce project complexities into manageable plans, so people can do some work.”The study says tackling quadrant three and four-type projects requires advanced skills such as system dynamics, stakeholder management, the psychology of communication, relationship management, reflection and analytical skills combined with good emotional intelligence skills.These are in addition to technical, project management and business skills.“Business-as-usual skills are not enough to navigate significant unknowns and this is true at all levels of a team,” Mignot said.Mignot said the study made an important contribution to developing a wider pool of project professionals with the collaborative capability to innovatively deliver and procure Australasia’s most challenging infrastructure projects.“This is important at a time when the infrastructure industry needs to improve productivity to overcome issues with skills shortages, project delays, government funding constraints and issues with private sector funding,” he said.“Improved productivity for infrastructure projects and programs is possible in the most difficult environments but relies on a non-traditional mindset to navigate complexity and ambiguity.“We have seen on numerous complex projects delivered through alliancing that more subtle and difficult-to-define skills, attributes and experience are required to fine-tune, re-frame and iteratively re-interpret the project value proposition and target outcomes.”

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