In the construction industry, project teams are incredibly diverse and include a wide range of project stakeholders. These stakeholders represent a variety of knowledge areas with different levels of expertise. Apart from this cognitive and epistemic diversity, project teams may also include stakeholders from different geographic locations, cultures, and social backgrounds. As these stakeholders come together in the same project workshop, an array of different perspectives is at play.

The complexity and diversity of these project teams is one of their greatest strengths. This is referred to as the “diversity bonus” in Scott Page’s book, The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy 1. The diversity bonus increases innovation and largely promotes the success of capital projects. Nevertheless, a diversity bonus cannot be assumed from simply placing a diverse group of people in the same meeting or workshop 1. To maximize the diversity bonus and hold productive project workshops, a skilled facilitator is needed.

A facilitator is an individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively, to collaborate and achieve synergy 2. Ideally, a facilitator is a neutral party who advocates for fair, open, and inclusive procedures over a particular perspective. The facilitator does not make a final decision but leads the group through collaborative decision making. In general, it is difficult for team members to shift from expressing their own opinion to understanding the opinion of others. In complex project teams with a wide diversity of perspectives, this difficulty is heightened. Therefore, it is crucial for capital project workshops to have a confident and empathetic facilitator who creates the links between diverse perspectives and ultimately leads the team to a collaborative decision.

To thrive in the role of a facilitator, you must become an interactional expert. Interactional expertise refers to the “ability to speak the language of a discipline, without the corresponding ability to practice” 3. This form of expertise is required to create shared understanding between diverse perspectives. An interactional expert can dialogue with all knowledge areas to stitch together areas of commonality and bring the different points of views together 3. The facilitator does not need to have the same level of contributory expertise as the project stakeholders, but rather needs to act as an interactional expert that joins the discipline experts together.
A recent article by the Fort Collins Science Centre links the importance of interactional expertise within science facilitation 4. The researchers discussed how interactional expertise is needed within complex science teams. This same principle can be applied to capital project teams which hold similar levels of participant diversity.

As a facilitator manages the diversity in a group, the knowledge that may otherwise lay dormant is surfaced, all opinions are valued and heard, and the different paradigms of thought are brought together. The facilitator creates shared understanding which provides the necessary foundation for fruitful collaboration and team alignment. In short, the facilitator flushes out the diversity bonus, enabling successful/productive capital project workshop outcomes.

If you are interested in learning more about facilitation skills and techniques for capital project workshops, visit:


  1. Page, S. E. (2019). The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams pay off in the knowledge economy. Princeton University Press.
  2. Kaner, S. (2022). Facilitator’s Guide to participatory decision-making. Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
  3. Plaisance, K. S., & Kennedy, E. B. (2014). A pluralistic approach to interactional expertise. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 47, 60–68.
  4. Cravens, A. E., Jones, M. S., Ngai, C., Zarestky, J., & Love, H. B. (2022). Science facilitation: Navigating the intersection of intellectual and interpersonal expertise in scientific collaboration. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9(1).