by David Mosley, Technical Director, WSP in the UK

Technology is becoming increasingly prevalent on England’s Strategic Road Network (SRN) – be it gantry signs that help to keep traffic flowing and prevent jams, the CCTV operations maintaining safety, or the journey-time estimates that tell you how long it will take you to reach your destination. These experience-enhancing technologies that we all rely upon as drivers are enabled by the National Roads Telecommunication Service (NRTS).

For the past decade we have been supporting Highways England with specialist consultancy to ensure that the operation, maintenance and development of the NRTS service is safe, fit for purpose and provides value for money. But we couldn’t have achieved this alone – it has required a collaborative team of diverse specialists provided through our broad and deep supply chain, and working together collaboratively with the client and NRTS contractor to ensure that this enabling technology delivers unrivalled performance, thus facilitating improved customer experience. 

What is collaboration?

It's commonly accepted that collaboration allows great things to take shape. It is also widely appreciated that collaboration is fostered through setting the right culture and behaviours which are framed by ‘common goals’ and shared benefits, enabled by robust tools and processes. However, achieving true collaboration is not straightforward; you almost need to know when collaboration isn’t taking shape to effect action. 

A question; you are working with an individual or team, maybe from a different part of your business or from a separate organisation. It could be on a road scheme; it might be on business change programme. The delivery could be technology rich, it could be infrastructure heavy or simply a level of consultation. Your initial assessment is that you are working well; but are you achieving your potential? Ask yourself, am I:

Just Co-ordinating; getting it done – there is a reasoned understanding and a level of unity between the individuals.
Or am I co-operating; improving things, even being slightly innovative – there is reasoned understanding and you may be witnessing some voluntary willingness of those involved to integrate further.
Truly collaborating, you have a shared vision, common goals, and your ways of working are all clearly defined. There is no ‘me’ and ‘them’ and you consider yourselves a strong team.

Collaborative Behaviour

 For collaboration to flourish, it needs people who can trust each other while feeling able to challenge each other’s ideas without fear of causing upset. It needs people who can resolve issues quickly, but who are curious and keen to explore new ways of working. Finally, it needs to foster in an environment where there is a shared accountability and reward for achieving a common goal – Think of those behaviours being framed by trust, respect, challenge and innovation and accept that collaboration doesn’t maintain itself once it has been achieved. It is for that reason that continuous improvement driven by the right people in the right roles will be key.

The results of collaboration on NRTS do speak for themselves. The client has achieved a hugely reliable enabling technology which delivers an unrivalled service to its customers and is positioned to support growth and diversity for the SRN in the near future.

Remember, collaboration starts with you…

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