Do not get me wrong, there are of course steps that can and must be taken to evolve the relationship between stakeholders, from the concept stage through to the execution and outcome stage.
One example is the Staircase of Relationships presented by Malcolm Morley in his June 9th, 2016 blog post of the same name.
But here is the thing . . . building successful relationships is not simply a matter of following a recipe in a cookbook, or following Ikea-like instructions to assemble a piece of furniture.
If it were that simple, then everyone would be doing it. The high rate of complex relationship failures speaks to the inadequacy of the simple plan approach.
Based on my experience over the past 20 plus years in developing my relational model framework – including the core Relationship Charter – I have found that success begins with a desire to work together.
This means that I have had to learn how to facilitate a “WE” mentality or mindset based upon understanding key external triggers. In other words, understanding the triggers that get people beyond an us against them attitude, to a WE mindset. This is the key to relationship success.
Think of it like diet and exercise. People know that eating right and working out 2 to 3 times a week is good for them. However, it usually doesn’t lead to a sustainable change in behavior until something major happens, such as a heart attack.
It seems that only when it gets to a critical or a crisis stage that people are willing to take proactive measures to change. In the case of relationships, this means moving towards greater collaboration and cooperation.
Take the I-35 Bridge collapse in Minnesota.
I talked about this at length in previous posts.
When the tragedy struck, the state and its suppliers put aside all standard procedures and rolled up their sleeves and worked together to achieve a solution.
The end result was a bridge that was built in record time at considerable cost savings.
Unfortunately, and in the absence of a crisis, with the next bridge project, the state reverted to its old ways. They subsequently ran into the same old problems that have traditionally infected the relationships between key stakeholders in the public sector.
The question is why? If it worked so well for the I-35 project, why wasn’t the same approach adopted for all future projects?
In short, do we only work well together when faced with a crisis? Is getting to WE impossible outside of the framework of dire circumstances?
This brings us back to my original point in today’s post.
Relationship models that do not take into account the above variables of human nature, and thus enforce compliance to a set of executable criteria alone, will not achieve success.
There has to be a desire to work together.
In my next post, I will tell you how to create that desire within the framework of my relational model in the absence of a crisis trigger.
In the meantime, and if you want to get a truly in-depth understanding of how to create the desire to work together outside of a crisis scenario, here is the link to my book Relationships First: The New Relationship Paradigm In Contracting.