On Track

Background:

Kier have over 70 years of experience delivering everything from major rail projects to the installation of power systems and signalling design and build. They are involved in both HS2 and Crossrail and bring a wide range of skills to these and all our projects, from civils work to tunneling and large earth works.

The Kier Rail team carry out multidisciplinary rail projects across the UK. They offer a range of inhouse capabilities, including design, Early Contractor Involvement, Budget Costing, Programme Management and Project delivery. They are passionate about their values of being collaborative, forward thinking and enthusiastic. This approach builds strong relationships with their customers, helping them deliver projects from GRIP 1 stage (output definition) through to GRIP 8 stage (project close out).

In 2017 Kier Rail were involved in a signalling renewal works at Redhill Station. Redhill station forms a critical part of the South East route.

The South East route is the busiest and most congested in the country, connecting the capital and its southern suburbs with Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Europe. More than 500 million passengers travel on our route every year – that’s almost 30 per cent of all passenger rail journeys in Britain.

John Halsall - South East Route Managing Director, Network Rail

The signal renewals and alterations that Kier Rail were undertaken would allow the operation of a new platform which will enable more trains (an extra train per hour between Reading and Gatwick) and improved punctuality.

Opportunity:

Pressures of a tight programme of works, delays in materials, and other factors were causing dysfunctions in the team. Their performance and thus the performance of the whole project was at risk. The team had an opportunity to gain back control and be the examples to the other contractors in the “Hub” and “spoke” arrangement.

As the programme was approaching its critical blockade period, the risk of poor performance needed to be mitigated quickly.

On projects when external factors cause the team pressure; collaborative behaviour, ownership, and transparency of progress despite good intentions often diminishes. Team members feel the strain and end up being fatigued. Information and clarity of progress becomes cloudy with no one truth to share. Issues begin to build and the teams find themselves in a reactive state. Focus is on meeting targets not surpassing them. Everyone seems to get involved in the detail but no one is making progress. Performance slows or it gets achieved by working excessive hours. Not a sustainable way of working.

Aaron Penwill, Head of Performance, Lean Practice Ltd

Solution:

The Lean Practice was asked to create an intervention that would:

  • engage the team in displaying the right behaviours for the good of project

  • create a process that creates clarity around project status

  • drive ownership at the appropriate party to resolve issues in a timely manner

Through a series of interventions over 5 days spread of 3 weeks, the Lean Practice was able to start a practice called Short Interval Control (SIC) which:

  • Exposed dysfunctions in the team and put in actions to overcome them.

  • Put in place visual management that created “one truth” of the project, with a high level project on a page report.

  • Set up daily routines that got the right people in a room at the right time to discuss the real issues.

  • Created insights to change conditioned thinking that was impacting behaviour and the teams productivity

  • Improved accountability in team member roles

SIC introduces collaborative behaviours that are driven through routines that manage and lead the project through short iterations. Each iteration is a chance to learn and thus improve. As the teams are dealing with shorter cycles they can focus on the issues before they become disruptive. They have the opportunity to respond rather than react. The "pressure" on the team is managed, they will feel stretched at times feel the strain; however the routines prevent people going into a fatigued state where performance drops. SIC builds and connects excellent habits into routines that become the norm.

 
The visual management wall used at Redhill station. Using existing data presented in a structured way all in one place. One shared truth.

The visual management wall used at Redhill station. Using existing data presented in a structured way all in one place. One shared truth.

 


Benefits:

  • Increased confidence by the client (Network Rail)

  • Improved support from the Kier Leadership to the Redhill project team

  • Improved project performance and management of key inputs

  • Improved working environment

  • Reduced stress levels

  • A better way to manage their next project

The 10 Day blockade was a success with the first train departing the new platform as scheduled at 05:03 on Tuesday 2 January 2018. A fantastic effort by all involved.

Our WorkAaron PenwillKier, rail