Behavioral Change Metrics

in an Engineering & Construction Environment



By Bob Prieto

Chairman & CEO
Strategic Program Management LLC

Florida, USA


The engineering & construction industry is a project based industry and one which must undergo major transformation to deliver the projects of tomorrow.

Behavioral change is just one of the change dimensions associated with organizational transformation. Others include new tools, new process development, and new skill training that happen in parallel and influence and are influenced by the behavioral change dimension. Metrics must be carefully chosen recognizing their ability to drive behaviors and inadvertently drive unintended consequences. For example, activity measures may result in a lack of results and busy staff, while result measures may involve a limited understanding of the results, why are they not being achieved and large amounts of duplicative or uncoordinated activity. A balance is required.

Finally, transformation efforts involve a series of beginnings, middles and ends and the transitions between each phase as well as each set comprising the overall transformation effort is extremely important. (Beginnings, Middles and Ends: A Systematic Approach to Organizational Transformation; Prieto; PM World Journal; Vol. III, Issue VI – June 2014)


In generalizing the design of behavioral metrics we can think of them as grouping into three broad categories:

  • Doing the right things
  • Doing enough of the right things
  • Doing right things right

For organizational transformation to be effectively managed, it must be measured around individual behaviors and then aggregated for project, business unit and overall organizational measurement. Metrics must be traceable to top level strategic business objectives and reflect a cascading down of KPI’s.

Let me use an example that would relate to a top level KPI on profitability. One change to improve top level profitability would be to reduce the percentage of revenue written off to bad debts. We would find that write-off levels are influenced by the age of the account, amount of communication with the debtor, and the effectiveness of the billing department. Normal KPI’s would track the amount written off and even the aging of the account (as a leading indicator) but neither of these metrics drives the desired behavioral changes we require to improve outcomes. Let’s look at the behaviors we might wish to instill (at the responsible individual level) in the transformed organization for each of the three influencers of write-off levels:


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How to cite this paper: Prieto, B. (2018). Behavioral Change Metrics in an Engineering & Construction Environment. PM World Journal, Vol VII, Issue VI – June. Retrieved from https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/pmwj71-Jun2018-Prieto-Behavioral-Change-Metrics-featured-paper.pdf

About the Author

Bob Prieto

Chairman & CEO
Strategic Program Management LLC
Jupiter, Florida, USA


Bob Prieto 
is a senior executive effective in shaping and executing business strategy and a recognized leader within the infrastructure, engineering and construction industries. Currently Bob heads his own management consulting practice, Strategic Program Management LLC.  He previously served as a senior vice president of Fluor, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. He focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide and consults with owners across all market sectors in the development of programmatic delivery strategies. He is author of eight books including “Strategic Program Management”, “The Giga Factor: Program Management in the Engineering and Construction Industry”, “Application of Life Cycle Analysis in the Capital Assets Industry”, “Capital Efficiency: Pull All the Levers” and, most recently, “Theory of Management of Large Complex Projects” published by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) as well as over 600 other papers and presentations.

Bob is a non-executive director of Cardno (ASX) and an Independent Member of the Shareholder Committee of Mott MacDonald. He serves on the Millennium Challenge Corporation Advisory Board and a member of the ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction, a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America and member of several university departmental and campus advisory boards. Bob served until 2006 as a U.S. presidential appointee to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working with U.S. and Asia-Pacific business leaders to shape the framework for trade and economic growth.  He had previously served as both as Chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors of the World Economic Forum and co-chair of the infrastructure task force formed after September 11th by the New York City Chamber of Commerce. Previously, he served as Chairman at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB).

Bob can be contacted at [email protected].