GIRI Design Guide Preview: Culture

18 Jul 22

The right working culture can reduce errors and improve the delivery of construction projects because it encourages and rewards behaviours such as collaboration, flexibility, inclusivity, leadership, and good communication. GIRI’s revised Design Guide considers key questions such as what defines a positive working culture, and how can we achieve and sustain one?

Why is culture important?

The right culture makes it acceptable to ask questions; to admit that you don’t know something; to criticise (positively) and to make suggestions even if they fall outside your own organisation’s brief. It promotes more open communication that can help to avoid some of the most common issues in the construction industry and make them easier to resolve if they do occur. 

How do you establish and sustain the right culture?

There is no one way to achieve an appropriate working culture, however, clear leadership and a client commitment to collaborative working are essential. Choosing people and organisations with similar values helps, as does selection of processes and systems that support the desired culture.

Sustaining this ethos is also part of the challenge, particularly when staff move on, therefore the culture should be embedded within the organisation rather than relying on individuals. However, because every construction project involves several organisations, a structure is required that enables all parties to establish a sense of ownership. Certain contract forms enhance culture, but even non-collaborative forms of contract can achieve the right culture.

What is a good working culture?

The right culture empowers team members to make decisions and take actions within their own areas of expertise. These must work in unison with the thousands of other decisions and actions taking place across the project. All parties should have a shared vision of the end-state but be trusted to take decisions within a clear framework.

Practical steps to achieving the right culture

Establish a clearly defined intent for the project that is written in a language that all team members will understand. This binds the entire project team together and forms a benchmark for all subsequent decision making.

Reinforce the focus on outcomes to underline the link to the real world of construction and delivery and break down organisational and contractual barriers.

Adopt the process of back-briefing at an agreed time or stage. This will improve communication and mutual understanding. The individuals receiving information give a synopsis of the information they have just received, allowing the person who gave the information to ensure that their message was properly understood, and clarify it if not. 

A more detailed exploration of working culture is available in the revised GIRI Design Guide, which will be published later this year. Sign up to our newsletter to be notified once the guide is published.

Other previews

The briefing process


Investing in design

Contractor input

Planning the design work


Design gateways

Guiding the design process

Stakeholder management


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