Leadership and Values – Part 1

3 August 2015

We recently presented a room of Torrens University Global Project Management students with the truth about the Adelaide Desalination Project (ADP). It was the largest infrastructure project in South Australia – complex, high value and extremely fast-tracked.

The project goal was to provide 50% of  South Australia’s drinking water needs in the midst of the State’s worst drought on record.  Many towns were just a few months from running out of drinking water – just take a look at longest, hottest drought on records, and Pictures of South Australian Drought.

As I prepared for the presentation, I re-lived my role as the Project Director from inception in 2008 to operational hand-over in 2012.  Myself and my team at T3PM Group also reflected on five years of effort, personal sacrifice and the exceptional commitment of 100’s of people to deliver the project on time and within budget.

We also reflected on the recognition received by two of the world’s largest project management organisations (Project Management Institute (PMI) and International Project Management Association (IPMA). The project went on to win the award for The Best Project in the World in 2013 for the project that demonstrates exemplary project management principles and techniques and  excellent project performance.

Also see  PMI 2013 Winner Video


This was the first time in the history of project management that both of the most prestigious global project management professional organisations independently selected the same project as The Best Project of the Year 2013. So what made the Adelaide Desalination Project the Best Project of the Year 2013?

Part 1 will focus on the most important attributes – Leadership and Values.


I take this opportunity to recognise the leaders that shaped the project and the project environment for success:

  • Leaders who articulated and simplified the vision and connected other leaders together – we no longer had silos.
  • Leaders who led themselves and set the benchmark, leaders who brought global perspectives and knowledge of government processes; leaders who led companies, leaders who led key functions within the companies and leaders who led delivery teams and high risk activities.
  • Leaders who crossed the boundaries (national, international and contractual boundaries), reached out and connected with people globally, gained their trust, their attention, agreement and cooperation (to secure land) – that would allow the project to proceed.
  • Leaders who had diverse networks and enduring friendships; and brought those networks and friendships to find answers to key issues.
  • Leaders who encouraged and supported work-life-balance despite the pressures of the project.
  • Leader who were courageous enough to abandon the safe (but time-consuming) ways of doing things and took the risk to trust and delegate; that created new innovative processes – with the sole aim of improving efficiency and certainty of delivery.
  • Leaders who were honourable and honoured the agreements – to complete the project without any claims and disputes. And deliver the entire project within the original approved budget and commit to new ways of working – an approach that would transform and focus the entire project as one-team.
  • Leaders who co-shared the project leadership with me so I  could sustain the emotional stamina – vital to lead and successfully complete the project.
  • Leaders who had the courage to stand with us and support the project when we went through some very difficult times.
  • Leaders who took time out to appreciate and reward the team members publicly and celebrate the success
  • Finally, leaders who continue to ensure that people and teams that ‘gave it all’ for the project and the mission – will not be forgotten.


I also thank the people that established the project values that underpinned the  project achievements:

  • People who played a key role in creating unique project values and mindset; and then lived those values daily. Through those values we created a sense of belonging for everyone
  • Values that made people feel empowered and trusted with information.And created processes that were not tested previously but provided an opportunity of fewer bureaucratic holds or delays.
  • Values that established ground rules so that everyone took personal responsibility to deliver their part and not let anyone down and deliver efficiently and properly.
  • Values that created unique thinking and implementation processes  – not only ‘doing the right things in the right way’ but also making sure the ‘right things were the right things’ upfront.  
  • Values that encouraged new ideas and ensured that new ideas were explored and the best idea prevailed, even if the best idea did not come from the person with the highest authority.
  • Values that created shared ownership of the implementation process and made it seamless. It simply made sense to do it that way; the mission of delivering Water Security in South Australia – was vital.
  • Values that ensured we found ways to deliver environmental excellence and provide new drinking water from a source that would no longer be dependent on the climate variability.
  • Values that made people enthusiastically sacrifice their time on this earth so that we could secure the future for our children and their children by ensuring safe drinking water.
  • Values that inspire business with confidence to invest in the state in the knowledge that we would have reliable water supplies

At T3PM Group we make a difference by helping our Clients achieve the Best Project Results through creating the right project environment, project leaders and teams.

We share this story  because, at T3PM Group, we are passionate about people, projects and performance and we also  bring the ideas required to deliver the Best Project in the World.

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