The Title Bout: Production vs. Integration

A multi-office engineering company came to SPI lacking the internal capability to deliver consistent, high quality computer analysis and simulation services.

Challenge: The Champions Steal The Spotlight

As with most of its competitors, this company relied on a handful of internal champions to lead green project activities from initial interview through deliverables. These individuals were over-utilized and not truly involved with daily, ongoing activities of the projects, so their value was compromised in two major ways: the champions could be recruited by another company and result in losing big clients, and the practice reinforced the on-demand approach to green design rather than developing green design capacity at every level of the office.

Solution: Integration Takes Center Stage

SPI worked with leadership to identify a solution that required transforming the role of the green champions from production to integration. This new role, which required that they lead efforts to integrate green design across every facet of the company, would give them increased credibility within the company and with clients. A major part of their role was to measure and track their efforts in ways that were meaningful to the company and clients – return on investment – and continuously improve their performance. The champions were responsible for aligning systems – especially administration, information technology, human resources and project management – with their sustainability goals. In essence, the champions were to develop the insurance policy if and when the time came that they left for another company.

Result: Who Won?

Everyone! The company delivered on this plan with the anticipated results. SPI supported their efforts and coached various staff through the process. As demand for services such as building energy modeling increased, the company found that they faced a common challenge: senior engineers, grounded in years of experience, sometimes lacked the mindset, comfort or interest in high performance design. Younger engineers whom they mentored had the enthusiasm, knowledge and passion, but lacked the experience and skills of the more experienced engineers. The champions, now in an integrator role, solved this problem by reinforcing the organizational expectation that sustainability is a priority. They mediated between the junior and senior engineers to consistently promote this culure of sustainability and were able to capture lessons learned and share them across the company.
Over time, the company saw increased project performance, improved client satisfaction, streamlined internal resources, and a higher level of capability across a greater number of engineers. Just as important, the company culture shifted and the integrator group became core to the deliver of the company’s services.
Engineering firms carry loads of liability and other types of insurance — isn’t it only common sense that they insure against the loss of top talent?