After four years living and working in the Middle East it has been interesting to see what has changed in the UK construction industry during that time. Recession is a catalyst for change that can remove waste, challenge existing relationships, test behaviours, changes working practices and stimulates new business strategies. So the question is what change is underway and will it improve the way we work in the years to come?
The construction industry is very diverse in terms of scale and complexity so there can never be a single process or methodology that works for every project however, all projects require:
- A need for a project
- A client with the means to procure the project
- A design solution for the project
- A number of product manufacturers to supply the project
- A contractor to assemble the project
- A maintenance team to keep the project in use
Or to put it more simply
- Want it
- Design it
- Make it
- Build it
- Maintain it
The delivery of any construction project involves a complex mix of legal, commercial, technical and practical tasks all of which involve a diverse mix of skills and businesses working together to provide a solution that meets the clients need within pre set constraints. Risk is a key factor for every business involved in the process and it would therefore seem logical that change should focus on reducing risk while improving quality and certainty.
However after 40 years working in the construction industry (the first 14 years as a contractor followed by 26 as part of design teams), I still find myself having exactly the same debates and arguments in 2013 that I did in the 1970’s despite the tremendous advances in communications, training, material technology, legal precedent, and brain power. So I ask myself will this ever change and if so how?
What we do is not easy but I can clearly remember the words of Lord Taylor when I was a trainee QS at his firm Taylor Woodrow in the mid seventies emphasising so eloquently the necessity of working as a team. I have heard this message numerous times throughout my career but unfortunately little seems to change and a self protectionist, blame culture still prevails in many parts of our industry, which is so wasteful and negative.
In future blogs I hope to explore the issue of change in more detail and suggest specific improvements all built on the two fundamentals of teamwork – Trust and Confidence.
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