Written by: Donna Kirk – The Pro Forum Community of Practice
A story that wouldn’t normally get much traction made headlines recently – it involves two areas that procurement and project professionals must consider:
- Stakeholder engagement
- Conflicts of Interest
As a community we have for the past 2 years shared information, education and various stories of the impact of each of these areas. And yet we still see this!
- Background: Safety issues raised with a focus on making the community safer
- Actions Taken: Involve industry experts, governing/regulatory body and determine how to raise the standards. Education and recognised minimum qualifications set as a pathway to the desired increase in safety.
- Result: Putting SMEs out of business, junior apprentices with more seniority than person doing for 25years, reduction in services available, prices for services increase.
This project had an opportunity to deliver better support for the community has backfired! Let’s look at how and why the backfire occurred.
#1 STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
Whilst industry experts and regulatory bodies were involved, the reach didn’t extend far enough and include Small Business Enterprise.
Mum and dad businesses that have been doing the work for 25+ years. People with experience, perhaps just not the piece of paper. If they had had a seat at the discussion table, there may have been solutions presented:
- Additional time allowed to encourage business owners to secure the credentials that would be needed.
- Finding training providers with capacity to work through the number of SMEs that would need to secure the minimum qualifications via RPL or as group.
- A funding model could have been negotiated with partial funding by the governing bodies being that they were the ones determining the outcomes.
- Mum and dad businesses supporting the new initiatives and the government.
What happened instead.
- Disenfranchised small businesses trying to stay afloat during a pandemic believing they will now suffer another impact on their ability to earn an income (and ultimately pay tax) at a time that government is selling the message that they are here to support local business.
- Defensive responses from industry representatives laying the blame at the door of the very people excluded from the conversation suggesting they were being negative about upskilling.
We know that the public critique government messaging – rightly or wrongly. At times like this, even more emphasis should be placed on Stakeholder engagement as a key NON OPTIONAL step in any change process.
#2 CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Again, this is a subject area that keeps coming up in the news! When will we get it right?
By initiating a probity discussion before anyone was engaged or change process begun some of the items reported would never have made the news.
Other than a written statement from the Ministers office that “I have been assured [QBCC] Board members have managed any perceived conflicts in line with community expectations.”, there isn’t a clearly documented process visible to the outside world of declarations of conflict of interest.
Brett Lyndon, General Manager Training at Pro Leaders Academy highlights “We teach project and procurement professionals every day, document, document and document! It is better to disclose than have it discovered!”
At an initial glance without a transparent process people will fill in the blanks – again rightly or wrongly. Questions raised about appropriateness of individuals involvement and their ability to lobby in their own interests are fair and reasonable – unless a process has been undertaken which documents the detail on how individuals managed the separation between their interest and their role.
We suggest you read the article – have a discussion with your team about what you would have done differently.