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DURF 1-1 Introduction to the theme

Effecting cultural change __ -----,


Culture is the product of behaviour. It is something we acquire. It develops in a specific environment; within a company, team or department.

Or within a group of organisations that have to work together. Because behavioural change triggers cultural change, we need to focus on how new behaviour develops. This happens when the environment changes, when you place people in surroundings that are new to them or when they decide of their own free will to display a different kind of behaviour.

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Don't be fooled into thinking that

this happens automatically. If you have to learn something new, it usually also means you have

to unlearn something else. Add to that the fact that this new element is - though available -

still unfamiliar and therefore often rather risky, and you have a recipe for stagnation. Take the introduction of the Building Information Model [BIM), for example. Or the Tendering Guidelines, the construction game 'Link,' the Project Startup [PSU) manual, the 'Communicating about Risks' tool and the Tendering Procedure Consultations. PSIBouwnetwerk developed these and everyone supports their potential but who truly implements or enforces them?

Breaking through the persistent lethargy in the construction sector requires patience. Resistance

Over the past few years, an ever clearer picture has developed about the direction the construction sector should be taking. More value provision, better collaboration, greater professionalism, more attention to consumers and clients, service provision and consequently a more enjoyable working environment. There are countless tools - in varying degrees of suitability - to help achieve these goals. Enthusiasm and ambition also exist, though not across the board. This is because word and deed are separated by the persistent 'old culture,' which cannot be changed at a whim.

exists because of the fact that the new behaviour clashes with the relative comfort of the prevalent culture and the convenience of what already exists. The sector is not known for its strong market dynamics, where technological changes and alternating preferences of purchasers ensure dramatic chanqe s'. But some changes are taking place. Mutual trust, which is crucial for collaboration

and the exploration of new terrains", is making a comeback: commissioning parties come up with new forms of tendering procedures, which create room for innovative solutions. Stichting Bouwreflectie is starting to gain momentum in its role as mediator in imminent conflict between commis-

sioning parties and contractors. Integrity is also being taken more seriously as a fully-fledged part of the operations. The key players have adopted a code of conduct that will playa significant role in improving the relations between commissioning parties and contractors. And if trust is generated through ethical behaviour, then that also creates

room for learning new things. The focus then shifts gradually from the development of knowledge to the active implementation of it.


It all boils down to the fact that behav-

ioural change can take place at any time. It is a choice; often a personal one. You can choose to embrace it at any time and if at first you don't succeed, you can simply try again tomorrow.

Take for example what happened in terms of risk management in the A2 project in Hellevoetsluis [chapter 2). It is often a case of two steps forward, one step back. It is with good reason that we

call one of our most popular publications 'Let' [grit). Because that is what it is really all about.

The lessons learnt [chapter 3) show that those who take the step need support and encouragement from all sides. The heads of organisations

in particular can be expected to put their money where there mouth is and constantly reaffirm to all echelons of the organisation the wisdom of the decision, even when things fail to go according

to plan. And things often fail to go according to plan: behavioural change means you no longer do what others would expect from you. This creates uncertainty ['Willi be able to do what is expected of me?') which results in a social inaptitude of sorts. This also happens on the smallest scale: between people, at their department, within their construction team, project team, management

team. Precision, attention, not shying away from confrontation, in order to gain clarity. That is what it is all about then.


A lot of aspects have gained momentum

over the past four years, mainly on the project

and organisational level, but also to an increasing extent between organisations. Albeit in a limited number of places, in 'niches,' as they are called in marketing jargon. PSIBouw has personally introduced or supported these niches in the past four years. Based on insights gained from research, help was offered in order to establish collaboration processes from a new viewpoint [with new contract forms and new communication tools)' In order to set to work actively on integrity policy. To practise the compilation of a team of which the members show confidence in one another's undertakings and are able to call one another to account on undesirable behaviour. To use game simulations to demonstrate, in a safe environment, the qualms and their consequences. Those who want to can also set to work on the issue. But not everyone is ready for this ... something more is needed.


Firstly, the pressure from outside can

increase. For example if politicians start fuss-

ing over the sector, or when the economy takes a turn for the worse. Or when consumers and users stop supporting businesses that perform poorly

or disinterested service providers, as a means of expressing their dissatisfaction. Energy prices can also serve as a catalyst for new behaviour. Nor is it inconceivable that suppliers, who are naturally more sensitive to clients' feelings than construction firms are, forge alliances that more or less force the executing part of the construction sector to become more attuned to their customers. But it is better not to sit and wait for this to happen.


The second line is that of personal will. A

motto often heard in recent years is: 'Cultural change? Go for it.' Nothing wrong with that, except that the motto could easily turn into a meaningless

cliche. For that reason, we should stop using big words to describe 'the' cultural change and 'the' behaviour of 'the' construction sector. Because

it makes the issue so abstract and disconnected that it turns into a gaping void into which many an innovative ambition has fallen. It seems that it is only through immense dedication and attention

that successful practical projects of PSIBouw can deliver what has now been realised. After all, one swallow does not makes a summer. Old habits tend to rear their heads again as soon as the novelty of the new has worn off. As far as behaviour is concerned, you actually only achieve long-term change when there are indications of strong personal will and perseverance among those people involved. Vision, passion, discipline and conscience. Easy to encourage and observe through an innovation programme. Easy to demonstrate to others the lessons learnt. Who subsequently have their own process

to experience, namely that change, the learning of new things, can definitely start off with 'owl' but

can also lead to 'wow.'


Looking at the PSIBouw situation

again, we see that it's actually a lot more about tracking down and supporting niches on the

project, company and sector level - experimental and otherwise. And at the same time, upgrading what people have learnt to a place where others

can reap the benefits as well. Another important new insight [gained both within and outside PSIBouwl is that every generation is a new qener ation. A new generation is constantly entering the work floor, which causes all other generations to shift up a level. And each generation, including those that have shifted up, wants to improve the new situation in which they find themselves. And hey presto: a positive and practical common denominator for cultural renewal in the building sector. ~

1 u. Glunk, R. Olie: 'Cuttuur, samenwerking en innovatie in

de bouw', Gouda 2008

2 F. Pries, 'Jong geleerd, oud qedaan"!', Utrecht 2008

3 A.C. Bontekoning, 'Generaties in orqanisati es, Amsterdam 2008

to achieve .. we've already done'

Local residents who share the responsibility with the contractor for the redevelopment and the management of public spaces, while the local council limits itself to the role of coordinator. Such a role division requires a dramatic cultural switch from all parties involved.

The local council of Hellevoetsluis accepted the challenge and launched a pilot project in collaboration with contractors and residents in Vogelwijk, a traditional neighbourhood established in

the 1960s. The project has since developed into one of the showpieces of the PSIBouw programme.

tion of the process, he was closely involved in the



taken seriously.

~Residents can do more than you think.'

~Everyone was eager

There is literally no way around it for motorists between Amsterdam and Utrecht: the broadening of this section of the motorway into two sets of five lanes, and the construction of a tunnel are in full swing. This is the Netherlands' largest road construction project to date

and the often complicated activities are carried out according to a strict schedule. This can only be achieved through close collaboration between commissioning party and contractor. To support the collaboration process, the Directorate-General for Public Works

and Water Management has decided to apply Communicative Risk Management. The project formed part of the A2 Covenant, which

was also signed by the Association of Consulting Engineers of

the Netherlands, Bouwend Nederland and PSIBouw.



acquired, says Marco Heres. 'One of the pitfalls is that we might become overwhelmed by the

harder than I expected, but I still support it one hundred percent.' ~

DURF 1-3 Lessons

Hundreds of people were involved in the practical projects of PSIBouw. We asked a number of these people about their most important lessons: what they have learnt and what advice they would like to give to others who want to get started too. We made a selection from the dozens of examples heard at the various meetings.

1"", new - and therefore unfamiliar - b.-

. .. . ....

haviour IS first put Into practice, It IS vital that the

leaders of the organisation or project endorse this. In other words: provide support where you see impasse [allow to fall and help to get up), offer encouragement where you see hesitation and constantly reaffirm the wisdom of the decision to attempt new behaviour.



i!::U can change because you have to or because

ant to. But 'want to' has proven to be better than 'have to.' This desire is born of passion and vision. And it is sustained by perseverance, discipline and communication. A keen ear is the most important instrument in this sense, in other words: listen, summarise and keep asking questions.

'OOb","ti" proqress falters. ask yourse " ~lowing: why is it faltering, who contributes to this and to which degree, what is the effect of one person's behaviour on another person's behaviour, and the key question: what does it mean for the manner in which we aim to achieve our

goal together?


t, substantive or other problem arises, vee have a strong tendency to turn it into a totem pole. Everyone is fixated on the problem [or hides behind it to avoid having to get into action or so they can remain invisible). If a problem has this effect,

external interventions are usually highly effective.

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-n lI;'h"'O" rne ans that V'" create tim, and ~a7eto study the interplay between the different

interests. That requires: clarifying which interests are relevant and how they relate to each other and then giving your full cooperation.

'out new behaviour also means: everyone ng to learn and take stock at regular intervals [what went well, what have we left behind us,

of what do we still need to let go?).

'You need exceptions

to achieve change.'

"" collaborative and other efforts 'co foe il:hermore given the label of 'we are learning' then a new - joint - interest develops. This increases the level of commitment and results in greater work enjoyment and higher quality in terms of the working procedures, products and service.

G milestone 'co important. but so '" mm@mall, personal achievements; a compliment for a step taken or results achieved inspires the person who experiments and searches.

Q'LkiO' about culture '0 the qeneral "0"


.There is always a 'carrier' underneath that en-

courages this alternative behaviour or makes it essential, resulting in a different culture. Such a carrier can take the form of a covenant [A2), or

a new building concept [LBC), or even a certain expectation from the top level of the organisation [accelerated construction stage). ~

'Personal contact works and a network works.

But a network can also exclude.'

DURF 1-4 Reflection

~Culture is

Sandra Schruijer, professor of organisational psychology at Utrecht University

'The human side is often neglected during processes of change. And if people fail to see the purpose of the change or start feeling uncertain because they cannot see exactly what the consequences will be for their job, then you are clearly on the wrong track. Of course they'll dig in their heels then,' says Professor Sandra Schruijer, who also lectures at the Utrecht School of Governance at Utrecht University.

Schruijer starts the conversation by remarking that we owe the popularity of the concept of organisational culture since the 1970s to Japan. Anthropologists elaborated on the phenomenon on behalf of organisational scientists and managers. The culture of an organisation is actually no more and no less than 'learnt' behaviour, according to Schruijer. 'If something is successful, it will be replicated again and again. You can see it as never change a winning team,' she explains, adding that 'behaviour that is punished will simply disappear from the repertoire.'

Change, she says, will only become truly necessary if the outside pressure to do so increases. 'And that's what we see happening in the construction sector. The innovations that are set in motion require a different way of working and a different

'People aren't as much opposed to change as the alleged consequences of change,' according to Sandra Schruijer.

approach to the tendering process or the way we collaborate with one another. Such a behavioural change will only become embedded the moment repetition proves it to be successful.'


Schruijer admits that she identifies with

the lessons described in chapter 3. 'The terms culture, behaviour and collaboration seem to be an issue in the construction sector at present. The need to collaborate is possibly the sector's greatest challenge at the moment. And of course, some parties find collaboration daunting. You suddenly have another party to consider and that can be perceived as threatening. That's natural,


because the profits have to be shared and own interests playa role, too.'

A smile appears of the professor's face as she continues: 'Looking after your own interests is human. If one of us had to fall into the lake I would

genuinely prefer it happen to you rather than me.' According to her, this illustrates the essence of collaboration, which often goes in fits and starts. 'With the direct result,' she continues in the same breath, 'that the participants revert back to their old behaviour. Behaviour that they acquired on the basis of the fact that the old approach passed on to them had always been effective.'


So the bottom line is to work hard at

creating conditions that make for successful collaboration. Create conditions that will generate trust, for instance. You often see people approaching teambuilding with the idea that everyone has to become friends. And to become friends, you also need to get to know each other on a private


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Sandra Schruijer:

Schruijer does however point out the importance of the development of insight into the social and psychological dynamics of the collaboration. Schruijer: 'You can use simulations, for example, to illustrate the complexity of collaborating and to make the participants aware of their own role in

it. I make use of the simulation game called 'The Yacht Club.' A case where the dockyard finds itself in trouble. Each of the participants represents

a different party, seven in total. You always see stereotypical opinions of the other parties develop in no time. About who they are and what it is they truly want.' The simulation takes two days, with the second day devoted to discussing the actions of the parties. 'It provides insight into how group processes can develop and how these can have a positive or negative impact on the team efforts.'


A new way of working means

that employees in particular are drawn into the processes of change. Unfortunately, Schruijer has

'The terms culture, behaviour and collaboration

seem to be an issue

level. I'm against that kind of nonsense. You truly don't need to share your private lives to be able

to trust each other. Just like trust cannot simply materialise out of the blue. You cannot expect the parties in a joint venture to fully speak their minds on the very first day. Nor would any participant

in the collaboration do so. Trust and especially mutual trust has to develop and that takes time. But every time one party meets the expectations of the other, this trust is confirmed and further reinforced.'

in the construction sector at present.'

seen it go wrong on this level especially. 'Not only in the construction sector, but also in other industries you often see the human side being underestimated. A change was thought up in the upper echelons of the company and then introduced as new policy regardless. But it is important to start by creating motivation for change. Without that, resistance can quickly set in. Understandably so, because if someone tells me that I have to change, then I'd want to know why. People aren't as much opposed to change as the alleged consequences

of change. In brief: help people understand why the change is necessary and make it possible for them grasp and discuss the consequences.' ~

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