Integrated Project Teams: 5 Steps to Improve Project Performance

A recent study by KPMG, reported in Building Design & Construction, indicated that more than half of the Owners who contracted for projects last year suffered underperforming projects – defined as being more than 10% over budget or 10% over schedule. Many attributed this more to a shortage of talent, rather than poor planning.

KPMG International offered five steps for owners to improve the performance of their projects:

Supply Chain Trends, Part 1

From Austin Consulting

Manufacturers are facing many trends and challenges these days, including those from both the supply chain and transportation sides of their business. This two-part series will examine these issues, so companies can be better prepared to address them.

Risk Management

Managing risk is a key component to running a sound business. It is also a key component in managing supply chain. Many businesses were affected by the West Coast Ports labor standoff, which is estimated to have cost retailers as much as $7-billion. To manage risk successfully, shippers need to ask themselves a few questions:

Leading with Industry Loyalty

Recently, while at a conference in an industry we serve, I was asked by a prospective client why they should choose The Austin Company over a competitor for their next project. It is an awkward question since first, you are being put in a position where anything you say can be interpreted as bashing the competition and that can always backfire on you. And second, in our industry, we do not know our competition as well as say, Coke knows Pepsi.

Emotional Intelligence on an Aircraft Carrier

I attended two industry conferences last week and was struck by the similarities of the underlying theme of two of the keynote address speakers.

The first speaker was Brent Darnell, a noted author and trainer on developing Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. The second speaker was John Bourneman, F/A-18 Fighter pilot, Top Gun graduate, and CEO of the Corps Group, a consulting firm made up largely of former military officers with a focus on building high performance teams.

Creating Expectations: Building a Foundation for Success

I recently participated in what was potentially a very challenging meeting with an excellent prospect. The design of the plant we had been schematically developing was presumably well over their budget.

Yet, the team working on this accomplished a number of important tasks in the development of this opportunity. Within these tasks lies a process that is the foundation for greater success in sales and, yes, in relationships in general.

Scrutinizing Incentives: Perception vs. Reality

By Brandon Talbert, Senior Consultant with Austin Consulting

Over the past few years, there has been an increased level of scrutiny placed on incentive packages offered by many state and local governments to entice companies to create new jobs and invest capital in their area. A lackluster national economy, increases in government spending, the passage of a major healthcare reform bill, and growing deficits have likely contributed to taxpayer concerns and much of the negative press around some incentive deals. Many companies have been blasted in certain media outlets for negotiating or accepting incentive offers. Needless to say, this can become a public relations nightmare for the incentive recipient, as well as municipal governments and politicians. 

Channeling our Inner Ernie Banks: The Power of Positivity

Permit me some self-indulgence on this one. I have joked for years that being a life-long Cubs fan provided great training for a career in sales – it has taught me how to deal with disappointment and adversity, how to maintain optimism and good will, and that attitude is the biggest factor in one’s happiness and success. No one represented those qualities more than Ernie Banks. “Mr. Cub” passed away recently at the age of 83. 

Benefits of Conducting an Early Favorable Area Study

By Jonathan Gemmen, Senior Location Consultant with Austin Consulting

For several decades, corporations have compressed the timeline on which they execute the site selection and construction process. We’ve seen that most firms want to minimize the window between the date when their competitors know of their future expansion and the date when production starts. Every day that the market knows of the proposed expansion, is another day they can prepare for and adjust to the upcoming increase in production capacity.

Perspectives on Leadership

I have been reading a wide range of articles and books lately on the roles and responsibilities of leaders and how that affects results, and it has me thinking.

Dan Ebener has a book called Blessings for Leaders where he takes the Beatitudes and applies them to characteristics and practices for being effective leaders. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they will inherit the earth,” etc…

He equates “Poor in Spirit” with humility. Those leaders who are servant leaders will succeed. He suggests a leadership style to be adopted that has a goal to create followers. At the Marines boot camp, the last ones to eat in the mess hall are the Officers. Servant Leaders are focused on nurturing their followers so that they are able to become leaders.

Balancing New Year’s Resolutions with Continuous Improvement

Happy New Year to all my blog readers. Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Broken any yet?

Certainly an interesting tradition that goes back to ancient Babylonia, New Year’s Resolutions are essentially about Continuous Improvement metrics. We set goals to improve and in general, we set a timetable to achieve those improvements (one year?). Livescience tells us that 4000 years ago, the Babylonians used the New Year to swear allegiance to an old King, or a new one if a change had taken place.

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The Austin Company

The Austin Company offers a comprehensive portfolio of in-house services, including planning, architectural design, engineering, design-build, construction management, and construction, as well as site location and operations improvement consulting, for commercial and industrial companies throughout North America, Europe and Asia. 

Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1878, we continue to uphold our founder's Core Values and believe in providing, "Honest work, well done." Our facility solutions are developed and implemented to improve your operations and make them more efficient - the results you receive are more than just shade and shelter for your business.

In addition to services for the built environment, Austin offers value-added strategic planning services, such as site location, transportation and distribution consulting, and facility and process audits. Our Results, not Excuses® approach provides you with expertise and innovative solutions for your facility challenges.

Check out our blog for Austin's insights on everything from site location to leadership in the design, engineering and construction industry.   

The Austin Company headquarters remain in Cleveland, with additional offices in Irvine, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and St. Louis, Missouri; in addition to Mexico City and Leon, Mexico. Austin became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kajima USA Group in 2005 and is a proud member of the Kajima family of companies. Kajima Corporation is a leading global engineering and construction contractor. 

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