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Why is it more relevant than ever to develop capability?


Lucy Howard, Project 13 Capable Owner Development  Group Co-Chair  and Head of Infrastructure Markets at Turner & Townsend, discusses the need to focus on the core six areas of capability following the Covid crisis.

2020 has seen many owners around the world adapting to unique challenges to maintain productivity, sustain supply chains, and enact a step change in digital transformation in the face of a global pandemic. Project 13 Adopters have doubled in Number in 2020 with more owners recognising the value of the six core capabilities in making their organisations more resilient in the crisis and to deliver outcomes in the face of these challenges.

These are the capabilities and how they are changing the landscape.

Articulating the voice of operations requires enabling an equal voice for both operations and maintenance upfront in the enterprise. Covid-19 has shown us the importance of operational staff who have been working on the front lines during the pandemic. Capable Owners need to translate the experience of those staff in managing our assets in these times into project requirements so we build back with more resilient infrastructure.

Articulating the voice of the customer requires identifying, engaging, and absorbing customer views into organisational goals and outcomes.  Anglian Water’s innovative engagement with its customers is demonstrating how this can lead to a strong set of outcomes that deliver economically sustainable solutions for the environment, for the enterprise and ultimately for the customers.

Recruiting and maintaining talent requires that we seek out those with the skills, desire to challenge, comfort with ambiguity, and business management. This means those in leadership roles have to be proactive in finding those people. As the industry emerges from Covid, owners and their supply chains will need to draw in new skills and thinking from beyond the sector.

Value driven mindset requires re-focus from assets to the infrastructure services provided by those assets. Value is achieved through service provision outcomes, not asset delivery outputs. This means that what is required is an outcome focused strategic case that meets long term investment needs rather than the traditional short term, cost and output driven economic case.

Relating to the ecosystem requires new commercial models that align suppliers to organisation and customer outcomes. There has to be a move away from the transactional approach towards that of a high performing value adding enterprise where strong relationships are developed between all parties who have the ability to affect the overall outcome. Risk also has to be appropriately proportioned and discussed in an open and transparent manner. As we emerge from these challenging times, this ethos is of increasing importance as we look to improve the industry’s resilience going forwards.

Creating and maintaining complex systems requires the technology, structures and processes that fuel an enterprise perform at their best. Capable owners establishing new enterprises in the predominantly virtual environment created by Covid 19 have been required to develop new abilities and use new techniques. As my co-chair John Grimm observes: “Bringing together multiple organisations to create an aligned enterprise to deliver outcomes has historically been challenging, but trying to do this in a virtual environment poses a set of additional demands.”  To overcome them takes commitment from all parties, some new skillsets and different approaches to the ways of working.

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Particularly agree with this, Lucy: Recruiting and maintaining talent requires that we seek out those with the skills, desire to challenge, comfort with ambiguity, and business management. This means those in leadership roles have to be proactive in finding those people. 'Desire to challenge' and 'comfort with ambiguity' is not something that you see on job descriptions but maybe we should.

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