The USACE Goes All In On Partnering

Dear Construction Nation,

In 1982 I was asked to be a part of the President’s Council for Productivity Improvement for the construction industry. At the time Congress was afraid that our poor productivity levels in construction were going to prevent the U.S. from competing in the new global marketplace that was emerging. So, there were several committees that were created to work on improving productivity. The one I was on created this process we called Tripartite. A process where we would bring together the owner, contractor, and designer to talk and coordinate. In 1987 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started calling this “partnering.” The name stuck! And it continues today.

But the old style of partnering that was done back in the late 80’s and 90’s is not the partnering of today! Partnering has evolved and become much more sophisticated, with a lot of science and art to it. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has taken many of the partnering best practices and put them into their new Construction Project Partnering Playbook. They captured many of the best practices from the International Partnering Institute, large successful partnering programs, and experts in partnering (I was so pleased to help, too).

The new Playbook provides guidance on how USACE projects will be done to create a high trust environment. It includes partnering during the design phase (pre-award) and construction phase (post award). It provides for an assessment to determine the level of effort needed for a project based on various risks that exist for that project (starts on page 37 in the Playbook). Then provides guidance as to the partnering elements and cadence recommended.

The Playbook also includes several tools that have become industry best practices. These include a Sample Partnering Charter, Partnering Maintenance Plan, Issue Resolution Plan, and Qualitative Team Partnering Assessment. These tools are used on many highly successful projects these days and proven to work. 

I was invited to be on a the USACE podcast, Inside the Castle, with a panel from HQ who developed the USACE Partnering Playbook. I hope you will listen to this insightful discussion about the USACE’s intentions and how this is just the start for their partnering program. They plan on developing more playbooks, creating a Partnering Program with a Partnering Program Manager, rolling out three levels of training on the Playbook, having a Partnering Awards program, and more!

If you are doing work for the USACE or plan to, take a look at their partnering web page for more resources.

I think, Construction Nation, that the time for Collaborative Partnering (this is the model developed by the International Partnering Institute) has just begun. This new sophisticated, proven model needs to be embraced by more owners, contractors, builders, designers, and CM’s, so we can have better project delivery for all types of delivery methods, and all types and sizes of projects. The time is now! We need high trust to create high performance!

In Trust, 

P.S.  Curious how you can improve your project’s chance at success?

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