Management / Collaborate for the common good

Collaborate for the common good

Alan Macklin, below, of the Association for Project Management explains why practitioners need to listen, learn and lead


In the UK, London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games remain the iconic major programme in terms of the public perception of what can be done in delivering to performance, cost and time. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) delivered a stunning performance, equalled only by the heroes of Team GB. But how can industries and professions work together to achieve this gold standard of delivery, not just once, but on a consistent basis? Lessons learned and knowledge transfer are the staple of any profession.

The delivery of the stadia, infrastructure, and the industry-leading approach to health and safety throughout the programme have been subject to much praise, but the measures implemented to get these results are often overlooked. It was no coincidence – success came from meticulous planning, building on best practice.

The ODA boss, Sir David Higgins – now in charge of High Speed 2 (HS2) – was lauded for his two-four-one approach, which saw two years planning, four years of construction and one year of testing. It sounds simple but the detail involved in the implementation was anything but. A key element was collaboration. Look no further than the ODA’s delivery partner CLM for an example: a consortium comprising CH2M HILL, Laing O’Rourke and Mace brought collaboration within the consortium and with the client.

This collaborative approach led to the Olympic Development Authority creating a learning legacy of its own. It was a very conscious decision to share the experiences of those working directly for the ODA, delivery partner and supply chain. Experiences, case studies and lessons-learned documents were collated and published for the world to view, and hundreds of thousands of professionals have done just that.

Focusing on 10 functions, including programme and project management, the ODA also partnered with professional bodies, including APM, to disseminate its messages.  As an official dissemination partner APM took a unique approach in running several events, with various speakers from the Olympics sharing their experiences. Hundreds of members and non-members attended, helping to spread the learning legacy message and enabling people to engage. The series of events reflects the new model APM has adopted – “Listening, Learning and Leading” – characteristics that APM chairman Steve Wake says all practitioners should endeavour to display.

The value of the learning legacy is there for all to see; best practice from the scheme is now being deployed on major programmes including Crossrail, HS2 and Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Collaboration is good for the profession and good for business. The message from the likes of the ODA, CLM and APM is clear – collaborate for the common good. Our willingness to learn from the experiences of others strengthens our own offerings and adds value to UK plc.

APM board member Alan Macklin is a director with CH2M HILL. See how APM shared the lessons learned from one of the most successful British  programmes at


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