Last week I facilitated a team alignment session for what’s called an EPCM (Engineering Project and Construction Management) company which has been contracted to build a mine for a Chinese client in Namibia. Although the mine, once constructed, will be the second biggest of its kind in the world, it is what’s referred to as a ‘fast track’ project with the entire construction taking place in about 18 months. This has put huge pressure on the team which is actually a joint venture between two EPCM firms where some of the staff are based at the project head office in Joburg and the others are based on site, in the middle of nowhere in the Namibian desert. This brings real complexity, as does working for a client whose culture and way of working is so completely different to what the local companies and its engineers are used to.

The purpose of the session was to start building a more cohesive team and, as in most instances, the critical ingredient is communication. Our process therefore was very much focused on providing an opportunity for everyone involved to speak and be heard in order to gain insight and understanding into the challenges faced by other members of the team.

Needless to say, it was a very interesting and challenging few days, with many learnings for me about people and process (of the engineering kind).