The professional and personal world as we have previously known it will assume a “new normal”. Due to the emergence of the coronavirus, we are all engaged in an exceptional exercise of resilience, and this compels us to engage in further reflection. Every single person, every single decision, every single work process really can make the difference: this is a time when, on the one hand, each of us needs to execute in the best way possible all of the activities related to our role, and, on the other, put our individual creative and proactive resources in play to find solutions, all while anticipating the trajectory of the problem.

Everything that we have been witnessing around us these last few weeks, with the healthcare facilities of each nation, along with the entire social and industrial system, being put to the test, is a testimony of how every organization needs to cultivate a reserve of resilience and the capability to respond to emergency. Our generation, too, has now learned what it means to have to adapt to a worldwide disruption almost like being at war. And our generation, too, will experience the optimism of starting over again.

In this issue of EVOLVE we had decided, in unsuspecting times, to address the issue of bureaucracy and overcoming its limitations. Within the new digital scenario, where all production sectors have, in fact, started to move, the norms and structures that have regulated the working world for decades have begun to show their limits. Too much bureaucracy, too many organizational levels have proven to be elements of delay and extreme operational fragmentation, where as the agile companies, the start-ups, the companies managed from an innovative perspective have experienced the success of growing with a more horizontal and less hierarchical structure. Not in anarchy, but in the form best suited to our times.

o solve a problem, you must first accept it. Study it to recognize its limits and all of the opportunities that it may bring. In project-centric companies like ours, accustomed to working on contract according to sequences regulated by EPC contracting logic, project planning is the tool that governs the sequencing of activities by designing the input and output of each step to identify real and artificial bottlenecks as one finds in those steps where bureaucracy is exerted, growing and multiplying when it is being used as a play for power. At the different levels of workflow, many people feel they should “stay in the shadows” in order to avoid taking responsibility for what is happening around them. The motto “Beat the bureaucratic approach” was born precisely to counter this passive attitude, where the actor who must generate an output stays still, waiting to receive input from the previous level. We thought that “Step up and make things happen!” was the right response, a compass to follow whenever there is the risk of the bureaucratic approach putting a brake on solutions, inhibiting our entrepreneurial attitude.

In an interview that you will find in this issue, Michele Zanini – international expert on business organizations and author with Gary Hamel of a soon to be released volume on the topic of humanocracy – tells us that bureaucracy is difficult to eradicate because it is basically a mechanism that works. It is a system that has been regulating the business world for over a century, one that allows projects to have a clear, visible, measurable structure. To deepen the debate on this issue, we also asked for a contribution from Yves Morieux, senior partner of the Boston Consulting Group and author of a book on “Smart Simplicity”. He will tell us about the importance of cooperation and how managers must broaden their identity to become “integrators”.

More than ever at a time like this, I am extremely proud of the “adaptive” attitude of all our people within Maire Tecnimont, from the manager on the front line to the teams of the various projects and business functions, up to the colleagues in the offices and the expatriates located on construction sites around the world. The whole company is responding with a great sense of responsibility on its own behalf and on behalf of the stakeholders who are watching us very carefully. 

Some, more than others, are invested with the role of “champion”, key people who, being at the heart of the problem, are able to have a panoramic and immediate vision of what is happening, in real time, knowing how to intervene (upwards as well as downwards in the project sequence) to expeditiously untie the knots. Their attitude must influence us all: this is not the time to go into the shadows and justify oneself for a failed objective, and it will be less and less appropriate as time goes on. Our champions are going upstream, like salmon do in rivers, to get what they need without waiting. They open the doors of bureaucratic barriers and if need be “tear off” the door handle as testimony to actually having done, and not just in words, absolutely everything possible to facilitate that sequence of events. That is why the door handle is the symbol of our motto on antibureaucracy.

I am also proud to see that the Maire Tecnimont group had already been going upstream for some time, having trained itself to spread the digital culture at all levels and operate in the true sense of smart working, fully aware of the backdrop of the third millennium. Today, as we are being severely tested by the public health emergency, we are comforted by the knowledge that agile thinking had already become widespread in our organization: that the best way to sustain an important battle is by fighting production delays. In a time of crisis, we have maintained the same productivity as before, fully engaging our resources to ensure project deliverables, orders for our supply chain and the delivery and assembly of materials at our construction sites all over the world, in spite of a series of obstacles that would have bureaucratically entitled us to stop at the hand of adversity. All this thanks to the uninterrupted service of our ICT systems while being in full compliance with the stipulated health regulations for the absolute protection of our collaborators.

As a result of this crisis, many of us are finding that the value and potential of smart working has been confirmed, until now considered by many outside entities to be a mere backup solution. Once again, our Group has thought of the solution before the problem even came to pass. We are certain that this vision will help us all get out of these difficulties together, with the awareness that a team of champions of resilience and antibureaucracy will make the difference in every field, both personal and professional.

Pierroberto Folgiero

Amministratore Delegato e Direttore Generale Gruppo Maire Tecnimont