The Come-to-Jesus Meeting

A 250-person architecture firm with offices on four continents came to SPI looking to improve its relationships with the MEP consultants it worked with.

Challenge: The Unlucky 13

One of the first activities that SPI facilitated was an assessment of partnerships with critical consultants. It became clear early on that all of the principals had long-term dissatisfaction with their MEP consultants and they perceived this as a major barrier to achieving the clients’ desired performance goals. This was not a new problem – it had been simmering for years – but it had not been communicated to the MEP consultants. At the same time that these discussions were taking place, the firm was responding to an RFP and trying to decide which company to partner with from their standard list of 13 consultants.

Solution: Knowing What They Wanted In The Relationship

The solution proposed by SPI was beautiful in its simplicity: get all 13 companies in one room to clarify expectations and open a dialogue about how to most effectively achieve their goals. This unconventional practice of bringing competing companies together conveyed a sense of urgency both to the architecture firm and the MEP consultants. They also knew from experience that one-on-one conversations wouldn’t convey the seriousness and commitment that would be perceived through a “community meeting”.

In planning this meeting, it quickly became clear that, in order to articulate expectations, the architecture firm had to understand their expectations internally, which they realized wasn’t the case. SPI led the company through a series of exercises to deconstruct the firm’s design process and identify qualitative and quantitative milestones related to working with MEP consultants. So what happened when the architecture firm met with the MEP consultants?

Result: Clearing The Air

After clarifying their internal expectations with the MEP consultants, the meeting became an open dialogue about the many issues in the architecture/MEP consultant relationship that needed to be resolved in order to achieve mutually desired goals. Scope, fee and timing of involvement were three of the key issues. The consultants had an opportunity to share constructive thoughts and suggestions and both parties realized that there were more issues than either were aware of prior to the meeting. Both sides realized the need to shift project scope and fees and add a level of detail to contracts that simply wasn’t there before.
Following the meeting, the architecture firm was thrilled in the results: a much higher level of collaboration with many of the MEP consultants (some, to their detriment, didn’t take the meeting seriously or were unable to rise to the challenge). Most importantly, this collaboration led to several consultants coming up with innovative ideas for the process that led to higher levels of performance on future projects. How’s that for making the case for collaboration?