I have had the privilege of being an Alliance coach for the past thirteen years. During this time, I have been an Alliance coach in various forms which has included being a client-side advisor for the procurement of Alliances, assisting joint venture/multi-organisation bid teams to win Alliances and more commonly being the Alliance coach during the delivery phase for a major project or programme of works.
I have often been asked by people I meet around what I do for a job. When I respond that I am an Alliance coach the next question is always, what does an Alliance coach actually do? Therefore, I thought I would take the time to write a blog to explain the Alliance coach role and what activities they normally cover on an Alliance depending on what side of the fence you may be working on. This is hopefully useful for everyone who works on an Alliance in clarifying the role and function of an Alliance coach and why they are a valuable resource for any Alliance. It should also assist in being clear on the expectations when you engage an Alliance coach on where the focus needs to be in getting the most from the role.
In terms of the role of the Alliance coach, the key function from my perspective is to be an independent professional that assists in the procurement, selection and development of a high-performance alliance team that drives outstanding project or programme outcomes. This role is an important role for any Alliance in ensuring there is someone independent providing advice to the Alliance who understands the industry, alliance model fundamentals and has qualifications in a range of organisational psychology areas or psychometric tools that underpin their coaching philosophy. They provide an independent perspective and facilitate key personnel on the Alliance to gain alignment on project requirements taking a ‘best for project’ approach in the way the Alliance operates.
The roles and functions that an Alliance coach undertakes can be categorised under the following areas:
- Client or owner training in preparation for the procurement or delivery of Alliances in their organisations
- Bid team training and preparation for the procurement selection and interactions with the client around the Alliance model
- Designer, contractor or partner non-cost selection services to ensure clients choose the right alliance partners
- Alliance project team selection in making sure we choose the right people to work in the Alliance environment
- Alliance governance board start up and development workshops and coaching activities through the IPAA and PAA phase
- Facilitation of the development of key alliance documents and frameworks including the Alliance charter, Alliance principles, aspirational goals, objectives, Key Result Areas/Key Performance Indicators (KRA/KPI) and other key frameworks
- Alliance governance board and management team start up and development workshops and coaching activities through the IPAA and PAA phase
- Alliance Project Director and Alliance Management Team 1:1 and team development coaching
- Alliance team health checks at the Alliance governance board, management team and wider team levels
- Owner Interface Manager (OIM) development and training of client teams to ensure they understand the roles and responsibilities of their roles and are effectively interfacing with their Alliances
- Development of a high-performance framework and associated plans/strategies for the Alliancing which include training activities, coaching and other initiatives that drive a high-performance culture for the Alliance team
- Peer review and development of key Alliance governance, frameworks and other management plan documents important for the set up and maintaining of the Alliance operating environment and culture.
This is a broad outline of the roles and functions of an Alliance coach. Future blogs will work through more detail around specific activities related to each of the functions described above.
In terms of what success looks like for measuring the effectiveness of an Alliance coach, I believe the following are important:
- The success of the project or programme of works directly determines the effectiveness of the Alliance coach to a large degree. On time, on budget and other key measures that drive outstanding project or programme outcomes. Our work needs to link to the overall work of the Alliance. We win and lose together.
- We also need to align our focus to what delivers public value from the project or programme of works that are being undertaken from the perspective of the owner or client. This needs to be clear from the start of the Alliance in helping guide the Alliance coach in their role.
- A strong link to also the achievement of the aspirational goals, objectives and outcomes should also be a focus, checking in on how we are going against these key elements.
- Delivery of the KRA/KPI framework key measures to drive outstanding behaviours on the Alliance is another key measure of success for an Alliance coach.
- Outstanding team health check survey results across the board, management team and wider Alliance team which show high levels of engagement of our Alliance team.
- High evidence based constructive leadership measures around leadership development, demonstrating improved leadership effectiveness and the constructive impact this has on the Alliance culture.
- The increase in capability and capacity of people within the Alliance through the coaching, team development and other training activities they have had opportunity to be part of.
- Delivery of the high-performance plan items in ensuring we are building a high-performance culture.
Choosing the right Alliance coach is important in making sure there is a fit between your Alliance coach, your Alliance team and what you are looking to achieve. The clearer the scope/expectations around when engaging them, the greater chance you have of a constructive partnership approach between your Alliance coach and the Alliance.