Modern Building Services

Positive partnering

Published:  20 February, 2005

Those who have experienced the very real benefits of partnering are strong advocates of this approach to project management. The article by Donald Leeper, president elect of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, bears eloquent testimony (page 8). His regrets are that partnering is not more widely practised and its benefits not fully realised.

Both Donald Leeper and current CIBSE president Graham Manly know just what is missing. Graham Manly said at CIBSE’s recent annual dinner, ‘For partnering to work, what is needed is that added ingredient — trust.’

Homing in on that word, Donald Leeper argues that a proactive commercial approach based on trust consumes less resources than being unreasonably tough with suppliers and partners.

The importance of the human dimension is revealed in a study by the University of Brighton Business School and the New Local Government Network Research Unit. It found that at the beginning of partnerships, many managers were taken completely by surprise by the unexpectedly deep emotional commitment they felt to partnership working. They had to develop skills centred on co-ordination, negotiation, persuasion, diplomacy and change management — unusual skills for those working in contracting and procurement.

CIBSE’s president-elect has a keen interest in partnering. Expect to hear much more during the next 12 months.

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