28.04.2015 : Amanda Gardiner

Innovation: Let’s make it happen…

Whilst innovation and value engineering compete for the spotlight in the buzz word arena, how much innovation do you see realised? What if the unleashing innovation requires a complete overhaul of the way projects are commissioned and run?

Have you ever been frustrated by a problem that just won’t go away? For instance, perhaps you operate large storage reservoirs and continually face problems with water tightness. What can be done? If traditional design approaches lead to traditional problems, why not move away from traditional design approaches? To maximise innovation I propose we reconsider the way projects are commissioned and run.

Commissioning approach
With functional requirements morphing on a daily basis it is increasing less viable to scope a linear project progression, with the casualty of such an approach being scope creep or missed innovation opportunities.

The alternative approach of Agile Project Management has been famously successful in the software industry. By allowing the features/scope of a project to be tackled in time based sprints, the client is empowered with the flexibility to change the direction of a project at regular milestones. The above graphic indicates the difference in philosophy from traditional (Waterfall) management methods.

Beca has successfully trialled the use of Agile techniques in the logistics modelling space, so I am interested to see how we can bring these techniques to the delivery of other type of projects also. If you would like to learn more about how Agile Project Management works then this youtube video is great.

Project execution
Where does innovation come from? I would say it is the result of bringing together great minds and encouraging them to interact freely without constraining them. To maximise this throughout project execution requires opportunities for such interactions to be engineered, be that through focused workshops or regular meetings.

I am a big fan of visualisation based workshops. These flush out insights of all the key stakeholders and simultaneously communicate how the group’s ideas interface with each other. You can run them with a visualisation facilitator or you could trial a systems thinking approach. A visualisation facilitator will help make some of the connections for the group and will enable the production of a tangible graphic to represent the outcomes. A systems thinking approach puts even greater empathise on the workshop participants for the outcomes, but would provide a good team building activity. Watch the video below to check out the concept:

You might not be able to warrant a full blown innovation workshop, but no matter what the scale of a project, innovation can be integrated into the delivery process through strategic meeting planning. This is as simple as incorporating a time bound 'blue sky thinking' section into your regular project meetings. During such a period the desired objectives are re-stated and alternative paths to reach them brainstormed. In my experience this creates a renewed vigour for reaching the given objectives as well as a more efficient direction.

I'm interested to hear your insights on this topic, so please post your thoughts below.

About the Author

Amanda Gardiner

Manager - Valuations

Amanda Gardiner manages the valuations and asset management section in New Zealand. She has worked across a broad range of market segments including mining and metals, food and beverage and water. Amanda is CPEng, MIPENZ and IntPE(NZ) registered, with experience leading multi-disciplinary teams to deliver industrial and infrastructure jobs through a range of project stages.

Ignite Your Thinking

What Do You Think?

Amanda Gardiner · 9/05/2015 3:03:59 PM
Thanks for reading Tom, and good to see you at the conference yesterday.
If you want to know more about Agile Project Management then this youtube clip is a great one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU0llRltyFM.

Amanda Gardiner · 9/05/2015 2:59:25 PM
Thanks for reading Bridget - I hope it works well for you!
Another meeting tip is to have a dedicated scribe putting the minutes into 'OneNote' as you go. This is basically a cloud based version of Word - so everyone can get access to the outcomes straight away.

Tom Delaney · 5/05/2015 11:18:39 AM
I think the use of "sprints" to deliver work is far more appealing to team members. Working towards clear short term goals is always more motivating for people. Thanks for the article, Amanda.

Bridget · 1/05/2015 12:53:24 PM
I'm unlikely to face water tightness issues with my large storage reservoirs; but, I really like your idea to include a time limited ‘blue sky thinking’ section into strategic meetings. Thank you for the insight.