“The act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty.” – definition of commissioning
There is – at least in the world of complex project contracting and management, a fine line between the delegation of a project’s lead to a more experienced third-party, and the abdication of responsibility for its success.
With the former, the buyer is looking to leverage the expertise of a third-party to accelerate the implementation process to achieve a desired outcome faster and on a cost efficient basis.
In the case of the latter, this objective is often lost by an overriding desire to transfer risk and ultimately responsibility to a third-party. Ironically, this reflects a similar mindset that one would usually associate with the traditional outsourcing model. It will also produce similar results for the same reasons.
The results to which I am referring are the high rate of outsourcing initiative failures.
The fact is that whether you call it outsourcing or commissioning, adopting an approach that is centered on using contracts to legislate performance through onerous terms and conditions, has never made sense.
However commissioning, if introduced as part of a collaborative or relational framework, has the potential to finally deliver on the promise associated with Public Private Partnerships on a scalable as opposed to circumstantial basis.
Scalable Versus Circumstantial
In the past, I have made reference to the successful rebuilding of the I-35W bridge that collapsed in Minnesota.
The project was an incredible success largely because of the circumstances and urgency to get the job done, while being sensitive to the needs of the community.
Unfortunately, successes such as the one in Minnesota, remain elusive because the circumstances were so unique. When I say unique, I am referring to the exceptions that were made on the part of all project stakeholders to get the job done. This included operating at a level of transparency that is rarely part of the normal complex contracting process.
This raises the question, do exceptional circumstances or situations provide the only opportunity for stakeholders to truly collaborate?
My answer would be a definite no.
This is where commissioning – if introduced and managed correctly, represents the bridge between an ineffectual Public Private Partnership past, and the realization of the promise that comes from a relational approach going forward.
The Road Less Traveled
It is at this point in time that we have to look at commissioning in the context of a new beginning.
When I say new beginning, I am not talking about the introduction of previously unknown or unproven methods. What I am talking about is a different way to look at relationships based upon the values and methodology that can (and has) consistently produce the best results.
Or to put it another way, the I35-W bridge project, and those like it, no longer have to be the exception to the rule.
Scalability is not only possible in terms of achieving consistently successful outcomes, it is guaranteed through a relational approach that is governed by the creation of a Relationship Charter.
In the coming weeks, I will be sharing case study excerpts from my book Relationships First: The New Relationship Paradigm In Contracting, that will provide you with a roadmap to complex contracting success.
In the meantime, we are on the cusp of a very exciting and productive time, as long as we view commissioning through a revised lens of relationship-driven collaboration and transparency.
Check out the second edition of my book Relationships First: The New Relationship Paradigm in Contracting . . .