3 Invaluable Lessons from Geoff Neumayr

  1. Partnering is the glue that helps align chaos and keep it from being a negative thing.
  2. If you want to gain trust, you have to first remove fear.
  3. Expectations have to be in alignment and conversations must be had up front.

This week, host Sue Dyer speaks with Geoff Neumayr about building trust on projects, removing fear amongst your team, and aligning expectations both on construction projects and organization-wide.

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The following show notes are a transcription from the Construction Dream Team Podcast episode 19 audio interview between Sue and Geoff. Please join the Construction Dream Team LinkedIn Group to ask question and have a dialogue with the experts we have featured on the Construction Dream Team Podcast and with each other. 

About Guest Geoff Neumayr (1:15)

Geoff is the Chief Development Officer at the San Francisco International Airport and is currently leading a $7 billion construction program. The program is using the progressive Design-Build model which was developed at SFO. He is the member of the Design-Build Institute of America Executive Board and will be their president in 2020. Geoff also serves on the board of the International Partnering Institute and was selected as ENR’s Top 25 Newsmakers in 2016.  He is a civil licensed engineer and a structural engineer.

Geoff’s Journey to Running a $7 Billion Program and Becoming the Chief Development Officer at SFO (2:45)

  1. Geoff’s journey started in college where he was an architecture major and moved to structural design (3:00)
  2. Geoff understood how art, design, and architecture all came together and his first job was at an architecture/engineering firm (3:45)
  3. Geoff then spent 15 years as an owner’s representative (advisor) through different projects including projects at SFO (5:00)
  4. Geoff learned the role of partnering and all of his experience led up to him stepping into his current role at SFO (5:45)

How Teams Can Become More Integrated (10:00)

  1. Integration depends upon where you want to place the bar and what success should look like, not just on time and on budget (10:08)
  2. You have to reset the norm to understand what extraordinary really looks like; it’s not just avoiding litigation, it is LEED Platinum buildings, totally resilient buildings, facilities that bring smiles to people’s faces, things that enhance education, and wonderful passenger experiences (10:45)
  3. On your project, you should look at what’s possible, not just how to prevent fighting with each other (12:00)

The First Steps to Progressive Design-Build  (13:00)

  1. The first stage, you have to ask yourself the question as an Owner, “Do I really want to get to a better place – do I really want to do more?”  (13:20)
  2. You have to have internal alignment in the organization (13:41)
  3. In the second stage, Stakeholders should be allowed to be involved in the process from the beginning which brings a lot more people into the mix – more chaos (14:30)
  4. We have to have tools that help us identify issues, not problems; they seem similar, but they are not.  A problem, everyone knows about and the damage is already done. Issues are usually just in certain people’s heads and hasn’t happened yet so no one has been hurt (15:45)

What You Can Do to Increase Trust Levels and Identify Issues (19:55)

If you can take time to observe what people are afraid of and then remove that fear, all that will be left is trust. One example of removing fear at SFO:  Everyone obviously sees a change that needs to be made.  It is easy to write a Change Order for x price, the Change Order is written and received, but the people don’t do the work.  Why?  The reason they don’t do the work is because they are afraid that they won’t get paid within a month of doing the work because it took “months on end” to perfect and finish the Change Order. Once the group was assured they would get partial payment within weeks of starting the work, that the fee could be added to the next Pay Application, then they started the work. 

What Are Some Exceptional Results You’ve Seen? (24:40)

The Air Traffic Control Tower had to be designed to a seismic standard where the FAA could occupy the tower during a major earthquake.  The team looked at numerous alternatives, they were given time so they could dream big but not be rushed to a single conclusion, and they were trusted that they could come up with an extraordinary result.  The team came up with a one of a kind vertical post tension structure, the tallest one in the U.S., and satisfied the criteria beyond what the FAA could even imagine.  This was only possible because the Engineers trusted the airport enough to follow a different way of doing business and that the airport would fairly compensate them for the time and extra analysis.

What Role Does Structural Collaborative Partnering Have in Progressive Design-Build? (28:00)

Progressive Design-Build was originally a way to avoid litigation but partnering came in to produce extraordinary results. There’s nothing you can do to fix the “go, go, go” mentality, but a structural collaborative partnering process will fix it because it helps identify stumbling block issues for the program. The rest of the team must then make a commitment to one another as to how they’ll deal with conflicts.

The Biggest Frustration Geoff Has Faced (34:45)

The biggest disappointment and challenge Geoff faced was the quality of the work at SFO a long time ago under a Design-Bid-Build project. Throughout the project, it was difficult to get the quality promised in the contract and there were empty promises and disappointments on discrepancies with quality. Geoff learned that the problem can’t be fixed at the end of a project; expectations have to be in alignment from the beginning.

The Best Advice Geoff Has Ever Gotten (39:00)

To marry his wife! But professionally, to go out to the field and ask the person who actually has to do the work what to do when you need help – this was Geoff’s first experience with collective wisdom.

Resources for Listeners

Contact Geoff

Geoff’s LinkedIn Profile

Email Geoff: Geoff.Neumayr@flysfo.com

Geoff’s Parting Advice (44:55)

Take one thing and try to do it better today than you did it yesterday. The only way you can get to tomorrow is to get through today.

Construction Nation! Dream Teams don’t just happen they are built one step at a time. Why not send out this episode to your team, so they can help you. The more people you have helping – the faster you can build your Construction Dream Team. You can’t have your dream until you build your team! Please head on over to ConstructionDreamTeam.com to sign up for our newsletter and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify!Remember…Construction Dream Team drops every Monday morning at 4 am PST. Please join us next week when Sue will interview another industry leader or expert so you can learn how to create your Construction Dream Team!

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