Competition for the design/build of a significant building is intense. All teams are trying to get whatever advantage they can, so being able to communicate your message, your process, the ideas, and your team in a seamless way is critical.

Challenge

A design/build team of architects, engineers, and contractors wanted help in pursuing a large-scale commission for a major academic institution.

Design/build projects are challenging to pursue because there can be such a clash of cultures between the architect and the contractor. They tend to think of the project in different ways, and it can be tough to get them on the same page. In this case, the architect and contractor both knew they would have a greater chance of winning the project if they brought in someone from the outside to help them unify the team.

Insight

Bringing the creative and the practical together in one project is very powerful, but it involves getting many people to take the same approach to reach a common goal.

The first issue to resolve was getting everyone on the same page about the project strategy and proposal. We’ve developed a methodology over the years that is very successful for interview coaching, where we focus on the client’s goals and objectives and then come up with a shared strategy for the interview.

The process brought to light both the challenges and opportunities in pulling together an integrated team. Contractors are very good at driving to conclusions and putting numbers into ideas, and architects are great at creative solutions. When it goes well, it can be fantastic—creative thinking that is also practical and doable.

Action

Through a sometimes difficult process, we were able to get the team to present as one unified voice and win the project.

Everyone on the team had strengths and weaknesses, as well as different levels of experience in presentations. We tried hard to help everyone be themselves and also be successful. It worked. Going into the interview, our client’s qualifications as a team were ranked second or third. Showing how important good interview preparation is, the team that ranked first in their qualifications came in last in the interview.

The feedback from the client was the ultimate testimonial to the work we had done with the team—the client couldn’t tell who worked for whom. We had successfully helped them create a seamless organization. The process wasn’t without its pain. But we know that many of the issues we overcame for the interview will carry forward into the spirit of the project.