Partnering & Teambuilding

Service Focus Areas

Parnering & Teambuilding

Success in large complex programs is not achieved by individuals. Success requires carefully selected teams of dedicated professionals working together towards well-defined goals. Within these teams individual creativity – fostered and encouraged, but carefully tested – contributes to increased productivity quality and value.

Large public works underground and infrastructure programs require a balance of individual responsibility and team accountability in an integrated customer – supplier environment. People are critically important, so it is necessary to understand and clearly define their roles and responsibilities – in relationship to critical goals and objectives – to increase performance and reliability.

We apply specific management and human resource tools through partnering and teambuilding processes to improve project working environments in order to:

  • Meet technical, cost, schedule, quality and other "must-achieve" goals
  • Minimize cost overruns, schedule slip, disputes, claims and litigation
  • Increase innovation, value and opportunity for improvement
  • Promote a safe and productive working environment.

john reilly

Specific project examples of John Reilly’s partnered projects are listed at the end of this section – click on the following link to go there: Partnering Projects


Partnering is a recognized process which can help organizations more effectively meet project goals and objectives and to build more open communications to support those goals and objectives.


"Creation of relationships that promote the achievement of mutual business and functional objectives"


  • Meet or improve cost targets,
  • Meet or improve schedule performance
  • Increase quality and efficiency
  • Reduce conflict – avoid disputes, claims and litigation


  • Creation of a high-trust culture – one which rises above the "deceit, distrust, innuendoes and hidden agendas" of the old process
  • Creation of productive, open relationships of honesty, trust and synergy
  • The process takes time – individuals and organizations must demonstrate they are worthy of trust
  • Process looks to build synergy – for problem solving, value engineering and innovation
  • Partnering success is "absolutely dependent on the commitment of the executive level", who must "walk the talk" and spread the message of the need and benefits of partnering
  • Partnering requires champions throughout the organization, who are personally committed to seeing the principles of partnering implemented on the project


  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Unrealistic risk-shifting
  • Ambiguous contract documents
  • Low bid / fixed price contracts
  • Poor communications
  • Inadequate management
  • Failure to deal promptly with changes and unexpected conditions
  • Lack of team spirit and cooperation
  • Confrontational and/or litigious mind-set and approach
  • Passing disputes to higher levels or to lawyers – rather than take responsibility

(Actual responses, from John’s Partnering Sessions)

  • Cut-throat / competitive
  • Limited long-term vision
  • No consistency or standardization – cyclical business
  • Low-bid – get what you pay for
  • Political influence – non-productive
  • Technology changes rapidly (resistance)
  • Too much win-lose negotiating
  • Lack of trust between agency / engineers / contractors
  • Specs dominated by consultants
  • Public transportation is second class
  • Lack of integrity – not a level playing field
  • Limited funding and financing
  • Requirement for local facilities
  • Negative expectations (claims and disputes show we’re doing our job)
  • Some agencies take pride putting contractors down
  • Lack of accountability
  • Legalistic interpretation of specification requirements

(Actual responses, from John’s Partnering Sessions)

  • Mutual respect within and between organizations
  • Equitable risk sharing
  • Honesty and trust – fair dealings
  • Performance specifications / more negotiated procurements
  • Attention to detail
  • More cooperative environment agency / engineers / contractors
  • Reasonable schedules – on time delivery
  • Level playing field
  • Need proactive approach
  • No litigation
  • Positive feedback
  • Can survive in this business
  • Openness to accept negative feedback
  • Joint forums to address these issues
  • Programs with positive public image
  • Technical exchange programs
  • Agency lets engineer and contractor do their jobs
  • Both sides appreciate each other’s problems
  • Agencies get together to standardize requirements and procedures
  • No "Agency" factor (in bids, negotiations, meetings)
  • Focus on end-user
  • Open communications at all levels
  • More alternative dispute resolution processes
  • More partnering, teamwork and openness to change
  • Team approach, focused on objectives (not people)
  • People evaluated based on value-added
  • Prevention-based philosophy – risk assessment / mitigation strategies

KEY ELEMENTS for success – through partnering / team building

  • Understand the project’s prime purpose, goals and objectives
  • Understand key deliverables (results) and critical activities
  • Develop performance requirements – deliverables and critical activities
  • Means to measure performance and track progress
  • Understand roles and responsibilities
  • Good communications and working relationships
  • Initiate changes in attitudes – elimination of "us/them"
  • Develop an environment of equity and fairness
  • Use teamwork problem solving
  • Foster / build commitment of all involved parties (stakeholders)
  • Build equity for all project stakeholders
  • Develop earned trust ("emotional bank accounts")
  • Use team-based performance evaluation / continuous improvement
  • Appropriate recognition and reward plan


  • Develop and confirm the Mission / Purpose statement
  • Develop and confirm key goals and objectives
  • Develop "shared values" to support the team
  • Develop Operating Principles from the shared values
  • Develop a Vision for the Project
  • Develop performance measures necessary to meet the goals and objectives
  • Develop an Issue Resolution Process for timely decision making at all levels
  • Develop, commit to and sign the Partnering Charter – this includes the Project Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Performance Goals and Operating Statements.
  • Develop a clear implementation strategy – an agreed path forward
  • Develop performance reporting and tracking requirements relative to partnering


Team Alignment SR520 Floating Bridge, Seattle
John provided management oversight and assistance regarding organization, key policies, team alignment (implementation and continued worksessions) and was chair of the Strategic Technical Advisory Team. He was also chair of an expert panel for tunneling alternatives, and consulted on ongoing cost and risk management for this $4.6 billion floating bridge and approaches for the Washington State Department of Transportation. The program is currently projected to be completed under the Legislatively authorized budget.

Team Alignment, Management Systems, WSDOT Urban Corridors Program
The Urban Corridors Office was responsible for organization and support to the highway transportation megaprojects of the Seattle area. John’s work included strategic management, organizational planning, team alignment (programmatic and project), setup and management of Expert Review and Peer Review Panels, implementation and improvements to WSDOT’s Cost Estimate Validation Process (CEVP®), risk analysis, risk management and risk management plans, He was lead investigator and author of a report to the Washington State Legislature on contracting and delivery methods.

Team Alignment, Columbia River Bridge
John initiated and facilitated the start-up of team alignment worksessions for this major bridge planned to cross the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington States, working with the Secretaries of Transportation of the two states. This involved organizational planning, definition of key goals and objectives and resolution of strategic issues for the project.

Team-Alignment, Jumeirah Gardens, New City in Dubai
John was asked to provide recommendations and guidance for delivery options in the development of a $95 billion new city in Dubai. Within 5 months he provided contracting and delivery recommendations to the program executive and implemented the initial program team alignment / chartering process in an international multi-cultural environment.

Team Alignment + Partnering, London Underground New Signals Systems
John provided initial team alignment and partnering implementation for the replacement of London Underground’s signal system. The companies comprising the team were London Underground, Metronet (now absorbed by London Underground) with contractors Bombardier (UK) Ltd. and Westinghouse Rail Signals Ltd. The London Underground lines to be upgraded with the new signal system were:

  • BCV – Bakerloo, Central, Victoria and Waterloo & City (all deep Tube lines)
  • SSL – Metropolitan, District, Circle, Hammersmith & City and East London routes

Team Alignment, Atlanta Transit System – Reorganization & Worksessions
John provided team alignment, management and organizational assistance to the Assistant General Manager for Infrastructure for the Atlanta’s Rapid Transit System (MARTA). Services included identification and evaluation of organizational options, facilitation of organizational work-out groups and development of implementation options. The need for organizational change resulted from the integration of the transit development division (new construction) with the systems and infrastructure maintenance division. The work focused on alignment to key goals and objectives.

Partnering & Team Alignment, SEPTA M4 Vehicle Procurement
Adtranz (now Bombardier Rail Systems) took responsibility for this $285 million vehicle procurement contract which was over budget, behind schedule and had serious customer satisfaction problems. John was tasked with developing and implementing a team alignment/partnering process to address the key issues and to establish better communications and working relationships between the Agency and manufacturer Using an adapted partnering / team alignment / intervention process, John set up worksessions to establish common goals and objectives, address management issues, conflicts, poor communication and working relations.

Team Alignment, TTC Rapid Transit Expansion Program
John led the teambuilding process required to implement the fully integrated TTC/consultant team for the $CA 3 billion Rapid Transit Expansion Program (RTEP), consisting of a series of teambuilding and technical workshops for all staff. The aim was to build a good understanding of key program goals and objectives, breakdown barriers to communication, create a productive work environment and introduce personnel to creative thinking and new opportunities.

Team Alignment, Toronto Transit Commission –Construction Directorate
John worked closely with the TTC General Manager, Engineering and Construction, to initiate a new design and construction organizational approach, based on the experience of the fully integrated RTEP program, with workshops for senior TTC Managers. John also assisted the TTC General Manager, Productivity Improvements with initiation of a re-engineering program for improved Agency productivity.

Team Alignment, MBTA Design & Construction Directorate Re-Organization
John assisted the MBTA Deputy General Manager with a review of management and organizational alternatives for the transit agency, focusing on capital planning needs and the organization of the transit Design and Construction directorate. Subsequently, he worked to implement a new management approach which balanced project and functional responsibilities for transit design and construction and led to a closer integration of design and construction with the Operations and Maintenance Directorate. Focus groups and teambuilding work sessions were facilitated for 180 personnel to implement organizational changes, promote staff understanding, buy-in and motivation and to improve internal communications and working relationships.

Team Alignment, Los Angeles Metro expansion program
Working with Fluor, John assisted with the implementation of an advanced team alignment process for the Metro program, Red Lines segments 2 and 3, Green Line, Blue Line and Pasadena Line, based on Fluor’s Team Alignment Process.

Partnering, San Francisco Airport, AirTrain People Mover system
Partnering for the new AirTrain, People Mover Airport Transit System at San Francisco International Airport

Partnering, LYNX LRT Project, Orlando
Systems and Vehicle Group, introduction to partnering, teambuilding work-out session.

Team-building and introduction to partnering, Newark Airport People Mover extension/systems installation

Partnering & Management Assistance, SEPTA M4 Vehicle Procurement
Partnering, management assistance and issue work-out sessions for this $285 million vehicle procurement and manufacturing/assembly contract – 30 partnering and worksessions.

Partnering, BART Vehicle Rehab Program
Partnering for the $350 million vehicle rehabilitation project including introduction to partnering, partnering sessions, key issue surveys, performance tracking and trending – 7 worksessions plus 2 total project staff work-out sessions (East + West) with over 100 persons each.

Partnering, American Electric Power/Zeni Drilling Coal Mine Shafts
Planning and facilitation of an update partnering worksession on a major coal mine access shaft project in Ohio. Presentation, partnering principles, key issues survey, worksession, Morgantown West Virginia.

Partnering, Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) Kane A Project
Initial startup and introduction to Partnering for this $20 million MHD highway project in central Massachusetts with multiple overlapping contracts and complex traffic management.

Partnering, Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) Fore River Project
Initial startup and introduction to Partnering for this critical Bridge project, involving many stakeholders including the Department, Contractor, Engineers, Towns of Quincy and Weymouth, the Coast Guard, Mass. Water Resources Authority, Bell Atlantic, Mass Electric and, Boston Gas.

Partnering Advisory Services, MHD Highway Program
Assistance to the Massachusetts Highway Department Partnering Coordinator on key issues for improvement of the effectiveness of partnering within the department and with contractors.

Partnering, Southern New Jersey Light-Rail Transit System
Partnering initial recommendations and facilitation for this $450 million design – build- maintain program. Services include recommendations to resolve complex program changes in a partnering mode. Vehicles and systems are slso included.


Facilitated worksession, Newark Airport, People Mover Guideway retrofit alternatives
Facilitation of an urgent work-out session for the Owner, Contractor, Sub-contractor, and Consultants to develop a "path forward " for resolution of technical, logistic and operational concerns.

Initial planning and alternatives worksession, New LRT Line, BC Transit
Planning and facilitation of a technical work-out session to lay-out the planning, management, engineering and construction alternatives for a new LRT line in Vancouver.

Teambuilding, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Rapid Transit Expansion Program
Management and facilitation of all teambuilding and work-out sessions for the fully integrated TTC/consultant team of the $3 billion Rapid Transit Expansion Program. 3 worksession cycles for Project Management, Engineering, Project Controls, Construction and Administration + special workout sessions.

Organizational alternatives, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)
Management and facilitation of work-out sessions for TTC Engineering and Construction staff’s new organizational approach, based on the experience of the fully integrated RTEP program.

Management Work-out session, Massachusetts Turnpike / Central Artery staff consolidation
Facilitation of a high-level management work-out session for executives of the Massachusetts Turnpike, Central Artery Project and Highway Department to outline the integration and staff consolidation process. No preparation "…just do it".

Management and organizational planning, MBTA Boston
Management + organizational alternatives for MBTA’s Design/Construction Group. Organizational recommendations, 6 re-organization work out sessions for 190 department staff in the North, South, Central, Systems, Functional and Quality departments plus 2 focus group sessions on key issues and requirements.



Details of the Partnering Process and its implementation for complex civil, structural, systems and manufacturing projects are available from John Reilly – see the address below to request additional information or to discuss Partnering opportunities.