The latest LeadersMeets survey of behaviours around collaboration in construction shows that our level of trust was rated no better than 5/10. So, this month Martyn Jones asks us to ponder whether a community-based approach is an effective way for us to build more trust.
The proponents of community-based approaches argue that we are social animals who function more effectively within a social system that is larger than ourselves and which binds us together for the greater good.
It means caring about our work, our colleagues, those we serve, the quality of our products and services, our partners, and our place in the world – geographic and otherwise. And in turn being inspired by this caring.
A community can be created where talented people are loyal to one another and their collective work, where everyone feels that they are part of something extraordinary, and their passion and accomplishments make their community a magnet for talented people. Surely something to bear in mind given construction’s inability to attract enough talented people.
So, what’s “communityship” then? Management guru Henry Mintzberg defines it as combining community with leadership. He sees it as occupying a pivotal position between individual leadership on the one hand and collective ‘citizenship’ on the other.
He goes on to explain that communityship needs leadership, but not the egocentric, heroic, exploitive form that has become so prevalent in the business world. It requires a more diffident form of leadership that might be called engaged and distributed leadership, exercised by committed community leaders, who are personally engaged in order to engage others in exercising their initiative.
Mintzberg considers Kotter’s top-down, eight steps for transformational change to be inappropriate in this approach and rejects the notion that organisations should be rebuilt from the top down or even the bottom up. Rather, community-oriented leaders need to see themselves as being in the
centre, reaching out rather than down. Being facilitators of change and recognizing that much of the change must be driven by others as they determine for themselves what transformation is needed.
How do we start rebuilding trust in construction using a community approach? How do we get from organisations as collections of human resources to communities of human beings? How do we transition from heroic leadership to engaged and connected management?
First, stop the practices that have undermined the trust of our clients and suppliers, and also our trust in each other. Only by acknowledging the causes of our measly 5/10 score for trust can we fix the problem. It means shedding much of their individualist behaviour and many of our short-term, self-serving practices in favour of those that promote engagement, collaboration, and trust.
As this needs to be developed from the middle out it is probably best undertaken by small groups of committed managers as they can be more effective than overbearing leadership or individual training in creating strong communities.
The greater sense of community can take root as the managers in these groups reflect on their shared experiences in their organisation. Using purpose and values they can ‘think beyond where we are now’, finding the time and space for reflection and contemplation on what is best for the end users of our products and services, commissioning clients, suppliers, and the wider communities we serve.
The insights generated by these reflections can trigger small initiatives that may develop into big strategies. In this approach, our organisations can learn their way into a new culture with more gratifying strategies based on the small ventures that emerge from the initiatives.
As these pioneering teams seek out and shape the transformations that they think are needed, they become examples for other groups in spreading communityship. With the encouragement and support of senior leadership, such approaches can become contagious, particularly when it is realised just how much more our organisations can gain from constructive engagement with the communities we serve.
A key indicator of progress to communityship is when the members of our organisations reach out in socially active, responsible, and mutually beneficial ways taking their culture and obligations beyond their boundaries – in our case, out into project teams, supply chains, and the wider environment.
And given the role of the built environment in adding social and economic value, we have immense opportunities to build communities and exercise communityship.
For example, our more enlightened clients – particularly those that are close to the long-term needs of the communities they serve – already recognise the importance of building a sense of belonging and community in their development projects. Not only within the community of end users and other stakeholders, but also embracing their external design and construction teams.
Our more enlightened main contractors already view their key suppliers as part of their community too recognising that longer-term, mutually beneficial relationships lead to connection and empathy, factors that create the conditions for positive and lasting project outcomes for all.
Communityship can offer construction a way to build communities and rebuild trust based on an intelligent combination of leadership, communityship and citizenship. As Mintzberg argues, what we need is a balance with these forces working together in a socially responsible way.
This month Martyn Jones looks at our shapes as individuals and organisations and asks if we are in the right shape.
Many of us in construction have deep specializations in one domain, but rarely contribute outside of that domain or comfort zone. And that’s fine as we need the input of the very best specialist knowledge at each stage of the design, manufacture, construct, operate and recycle stages of the building lifecycle.
Such people are known as ‘I-shaped people’, since like the letter ‘I’, they have depth of knowledge and understanding (the leg of the I), but not much breadth.
By contrast ‘T-shaped people’ supplement their expertise in one area (the vertical leg of the T) with valuable but less-developed skills in associated areas, the horizontal arms of the T.
As an example, a person who can contribute to the development of other parts of a construction project outside their specialism is a T-shaped person. For example, a construction manager contributing to design. T-shaped people tend to be more collaborative by nature and hence drawn to organisations such as Constructing Excellence with our ethos of learning, collaboration, and customer focus.
In the post-Egan era, people in construction still need a defined, recognized specialization and primary role, but also the skills, versatility, and aptitude for collaboration to help other people where necessary when working in construction project teams.
Both types of people are essential within construction organisations, project teams and their supply chains. But the perceived wisdom is that when we commit to being T-shaped, we get the benefits of specialization and generalization, while avoiding the pitfalls of being only a specialist or generalist. We can foster the diverse connections, interactions and conversations that can result in new, exceptional construction project ideas and outcomes.
Here are just a few benefits of becoming T shaped.
T-shaped people by nature are better at collaborating with other people because they have a broad range of knowledge and can communicate and interact meaningfully with specialists in different fields. This makes the whole idea of creativity through collaboration much more feasible and rewarding.
People still retain the satisfaction of depth in the leg of the T by also getting to experience the gratification that comes from diving deep in one subject area and being able to bring more expertise and specialist knowledge in that area to the table in the horizontal arms of the T.
People become more creative. There is a classic idea in the arts and in business that the greatest ideas happen at the intersection or interfaces between disciplines and indeed industries. When people have a broad base of knowledge, they build immunity to the ‘paradox of expertise’ where advanced knowledge and success in one field can cloud one’s ability to see new patterns, prospects and possibilities.
People stay more engaged and interested. When people focus on just one area, no matter how fascinating, they can become stale. Variety is key to keeping minds engaged with other areas of challenge and interest outside their specialty.
T-shaped people are more attractive to employers. This happens for two reasons. The first is that they have standout resumes compared to those who only focus on their specialism and never branch out. Second, being a T-shaped person just makes you more interesting.
But is being T-shaped now enough? More than ever, we need effective coaches and leaders to help us respond to the opportunities and challenges posed by the new Digital paradigm. This is expressed in yet another shape – the ‘X-shape’. This is typically called the ‘executive’ skill shape since senior leaders often possess it.
Yes, of course, people with X-shaped skills have deep expertise in a core knowledge area, as depicted in one arm of the X, but also strong leadership skills, credibility and standing as represented in the other. They can formulate strategies and execute them. They aren’t just practitioners, they are effective coaches, managers, delegators, and leaders. This skill shape recognises the ability of an individual to set strategy, lead people, and motivate and coach a team alongside their specialist skills.
How to become X-shaped?
Engaging with Constructing Excellence would be a great way to start as membership provides the opportunity to learn alongside those in other disciplines and leadership roles right across the development process. Through this interaction you get a better understanding of what their work involves and identify opportunities for creativity at their interfaces between the specialisms.
Find time to attend conferences and engage with LeadersMeets and other opportunities for learning to develop your knowledge and skills in as many ways as possible to enhance your abilities and knowledge.
Work on soft skills: Look at areas such as communication and take opportunities to make presentations to your colleagues, and members of your project teams and supply chains but also to the wider construction community. Again, this is where Constructing Excellence and LeadersMeets can help by providing opportunities for you to present and test your thought leadership ideas.
Identify gaps: Don’t’ just focus on the stuff you understand and are comfortable with. Look to expand your current expertise and experience, starting with clearly identifying where you need to gain additional knowledge and expertise.
Work on projects that are different from what you normally do to again widen your experience,
Make an impact: Use what you learn to make a difference in the teams you work in so that your ideas and abilities get noticed.
The next Diploma session is on 2nd May. Students that sign up now will be able to catch up on the April module.
Find all the details HERE
Watch this video now with Steve Green, who discusses the Quality and Compliance section of the course
The Inspiring Change Conference & Awards promote Fairness, Inclusion and Respect by highlighting inclusive workplace culture and showcasing best practice by organisations across the UK construction and built environment sector.
The 2023 Conference will bring together a range of inspirational speakers from diverse backgrounds and workplaces to share their expertise.
To be held on 27th June 2023 | No 11 Cavendish Square, London
Find out more HERE
The Inspiring Change Awards recognise and celebrate organisations and individuals within the built environment sector that have created more inclusive cultures through activities to support workplaces, education of the current and future workforce, and the community.
Closing date for entry is Friday, 5th May 2023. Please email completed entry forms to InspiringChange@supplychainschool.co.uk.
GUESTS from across the Midlands construction industry will help to raise vital funds for a children’s cancer charity as they attend upcoming awards ceremonies hosted by Constructing Excellence Midlands. The organisation has partnered with Children with Cancer UK – one of the leading childhood cancer charities in the UK – ahead of its upcoming East and West Midlands events which will celebrate the very best of the construction industry within the regions.
The events, which will take place in Birmingham on 1 June then in Nottingham on 26 June, will provide an important fundraising opportunity for the charity, which funds much-needed research and provides support for families living with childhood cancers. Andrew Carpenter, chief executive of Constructing Excellence Midlands, said: “As an organisation we promote best practice within the construction industry and an important part of that is delivering social value through the work that we do. In partnering with Children with Cancer UK for our awards events, hopefully we can support them in raising some all-important funds as well as spreading awareness of the amazing things they do.
“The awards themselves are an amazing opportunity to celebrate those people and organisations doing great things within the industry and we are looking forward to celebrating that at the events.”
Founded in 1988 by the O’Gorman family, who lost two children to cancer, Children with Cancer UK has huge ambitions not only to raise their profile but also to maximise fundraising capacity in what is their 35th anniversary year.
Jo Elvin, CEO at Children with Cancer UK, added: “The charity plays a vital role in funding ground-breaking research into understanding – and ultimately conquering – childhood cancers. With 10 children a day currently facing that bleak diagnosis, the charity is committed to realising a world where every child survives cancer. We’re delighted that Constructing Excellence has chosen to support us at their Midlands events and look forward to sharing our story with guests.”
Constructing Excellence Midlands promotes best practice and collaboration across the Midlands construction industry. Entries are now open for both the East and West Midlands awards and sponsorship opportunities are available.
Nikita Badesha is chair of Constructing Excellence Midlands’ G4C group, a self-funded networking and events organisation for young professionals aged 35 and below working in the construction industry. She is also a project manager at Rider Levett Bucknall.
“I was brought in as the first chair in 2020, helping to grow the group from the ground up into an established networking organisation for young professionals, mostly operating in Birmingham in tandem with the growth of Constructing Excellence Midlands. As we’ve gained traction, we now average between 30 and 40 young people at our free events, of which places tend to be snapped up within a week.
“There are huge benefits to being a part of G4C – not just for the young people involved but also the carryover effect this has to businesses looking to professionally develop the emerging talent in their teams and grow their network within Constructing Excellence Midlands.
“The G4C committee consists of nine young professionals in construction from an array of companies operating across different disciplines in supply chains. In my role as chair, I help to set up events on a rolling basis, with our staple monthly sponsored breakfast networking sessions a massive hit on the first Thursday of each month.
“In addition to these, we host regular CPD sessions, featuring industry speakers who have been well received at breakfast sessions. We alternate between technical and soft skills discussions, having previously discussed topics such as changes to housing association regulations, sustainability, change management, as well as how to improve LinkedIn skills.
“As a project manager by trade, I don’t have an entirely technical understanding, so I’ve found it particularly rewarding to learn more about smart buildings and their key considerations. Likewise, engineers in the group may have not been familiar with how to negotiate, but our sessions have provided them with this knowledge to fall back on.
“Attendees have reported that these events give them a great appreciation of the different organisations that work in the industry and that they often find themselves transferring learnings back into their day-to-day work – and feel more confident to question things and be actively involved in project discussions.
“We always have time before and after events for networking time to get to know our peers better and collectively have discussions on the state of the construction industry. We also hold social events which equally attract great interest, with our Summer and Christmas socials always highly enjoyable affairs. A lot of young professionals who come to our events have become good friends and go to other CPD and networking events together.
“We have exciting plans for G4C Midlands. We will be launching a podcast to increase reach for those who can’t come to events and to help build our credibility so that companies understand the value we can create for their teams.
“Personally I’m proud to have helped grow CE Midlands. I’ve been able to put the skills learnt from my business degree to good use in the management and operations of the group. By being actively involved in the G4C, it has helped to put my name out there in industry, with many people at events recognising my involvement with the organisation.
“CE Midlands has also been incredibly supportive in giving me not only this responsibility but the platform to amplify my MSc dissertation on Gender Diversity in Construction, from the
back of which I’m keen to continue playing my part towards helping to break the concrete ceiling.
“I’m excited to help G4C grow further across the Midlands and put on more informative and exciting events for the benefit of young professionals starting their careers in construction.”
This month Martyn Jones has been reflecting on relationships, and more particularly, the inter-organisational relationships associated with supply chain management (SCM).
In 2002, he along with coresearchers, published ‘A review of the progress towards the adoption of supply chain management (SCM) relationships in construction’ in the European Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management,
At that time, it was being strongly argued that SCM, which was proving to be successful in other industries, particularly manufacturing, could be similarly adopted in construction.
Based on empirical research the authors argued that although SCM relationships could address many of the issues impeding improvements in construction’s performance, there were also specific features of our industry – such as being project-based and its operating system – which rendered it difficult to fully implement in the context and culture of construction.
Since then, construction frameworks have become widely recognised as the best approach available to us in delivering the transformational improvements advocated by Latham and Egan, and provide a way for construction to get as close as possible to the inter-organisational relationships associated with SCM.
Private clients have always had much greater scope to innovate and forge closer relationships with their preferred construction suppliers. Public clients, however, were often constrained by strict governance and procurement rules.
And looking at the scope for changes in relationships, it is also necessary to differentiate between regular and frequent clients of the industry. Regular clients have the necessary flow of work and hence the incentive and necessary influence and leverage to nurture longer-term SCM-type relationships.
In 2004 the situation changed for public clients when public sector frameworks were formally introduced into European legislation through EU Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament for the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts. This formally released
the potential benefits that could flow from the stronger relationships arising from longer-term arrangements and closer relationships with fewer but carefully chosen trusted suppliers.
With the emergence of framework providers and multi-client frameworks even infrequent and public clients of construction were now able to benefit from frameworks and to some extent SCM-type relationships – including the development of greater mutual understanding, the empowerment of main and specialist contractors, and opening up opportunities for shared learning, and building mutual competitive advantage.
And in another shift, 2022 saw the publication, of ‘Constructing the Gold Standard: An Independent Review of Public Sector Construction Frameworks’, produced by Professor David Mosey. His review of the over 2,000 public sector frameworks that now exist, represents a robust and valuable insight into the progress that public clients have made in adopting SCM type relationships and sets the “gold” standard for frameworks.
What does David’s review have to say specifically about relationships? Well, for example, he calls for “multi-party relationships that align objectives, success measures, targets and incentives with commitments to joint work on improving value and reducing risk”.
Also, “Transparent costing, call-off, performance measurement and incentives that provide a fair return for suppliers and drive value rather than a race to the bottom and framework management systems that support collaboration and dispute avoidance”.
David’s review provides 24 recommendations number 23 of which “recommends improving framework outcomes by creating collaborative systems for the management of framework relationships and strategic supply chain relationships”.
There is more. “To drive improved framework outcomes through clear mutual understanding, effective problem-solving and dispute avoidance, this review recommends that framework providers, clients and managers create collaborative systems for managing framework relationships and that these are mirrored by suppliers in strategic supply chain relationships. These systems should include a ‘Core Group’ or equivalent joint decision-making group through which to manage strategic planning, value improvement, risk reduction and dispute avoidance.”
Does this take construction near to emulating the SCM relationships achieved in other sectors of the economy? Not really, as there are still many features of construction that set us apart from other sectors of the economy in the pursuit of SCM.
And the world has moved on. Yet this review suggests that much of construction is still playing catch up in exploiting the opportunities presented by closer relationships and integrated processes that have dominated thinking in the past 25 years or so, and not looking enough to exploiting the possibilities in the emerging paradigm.
David does nudge us in the direction of the new paradigm. For example, “Recommendation 13: Improve economic, social and environmental outcomes through framework early supply chain involvement (ESI), using Supply Chain Collaboration systems in all framework contracts.”
In a similar vein, with “Recommendation 11: Improve supplier investments in MMC and other offsite technologies by awarding framework call-off contracts for portfolios of work.”
And, “Recommendation 12: Create a whole life golden thread of asset information using BIM and other digital technologies integrated under a framework alliance contract.”
So yes, many parts of our industry have made considerable progress since 2002 in adopting SCM-type relationships despite the barriers in our traditional operating system. But have we have moved as far and as fast as we might have done, or needed to, in exploiting the opportunities of the existing paradigm? Probably not. And does this mean that we are not as prepared as we might be to respond to the opportunities in the new digital paradigm?
Welcome to the March edition of our Constructing Excellence Newsletter. Before we dive in, on behalf of the board I would like to express our gratitude to all who attended our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday 1st March. Your time, attendance and engagement are critical to our continued success.
As we continue into 2023, it’s clear that the challenges faced by the construction sector in 2022 are far from over. The compounding effects of Brexit, Covid, the war in Ukraine, energy prices, and inflation will continue to pose significant challenges, including rising costs and reduced cost predictability. Furthermore, the industry faces a shortage of skilled labour and the increasing prices of construction materials such as concrete, steel, and microchips. These materials are incorporated into practically everything we build. These challenges make it essential for the industry to adapt and embrace new technologies and innovations that will improve productivity, efficiency, and sustainability.
Smarter methods of construction, new technologies, innovative materials, and product designs offer opportunities to address these challenges. The adoption of digitisation, pre-fabrication, data analytics and AI deployment across a range of construction processes can drive better productivity and efficiency. It can also help minimise wasted resources on-site and reduce the reliance on traditional construction approaches, which can be affected by the shortage of skilled labour. Additionally, innovation in construction materials and product designs can improve the quality of buildings, reduce environmental impact and lower costs.
The CE Midlands team is committed to driving conversations and collaborations across the entire construction value chain in order to identify, promote, and take advantage of these opportunities. In the past year, we have made significant progress in a number of areas, including workforce safety, digitization, net-zero, talent development, and digital innovation. Our organization is proud to support our members in adopting these new technologies and innovations in order to meet the challenges that our industry faces today.
There have been a lot of talks, articles and publications in the recent months and years about the industry having to change or risk becoming extinct, and for good reason. But did you know that, dating back to 400,000 B.C., experts believe that the construction industry is one of the oldest industries in the world? The earliest evidence of large-scale buildings is in Mesopotamia. And in the coming months, we will continue to serve our members to help drive collaboration across the industry. This will enable us to seize the opportunities that exist and ensure the industry thrives well into the future. Together, we can overcome the challenges and build a sustainable and thriving construction sector.
Thank you once again for your continued support, and we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter.
Download the diploma prospectus here.
Constructing Excellence Midlands is preparing to commence the latest edition of its Diploma in Collaboration in Construction, set to be delivered through a unique partnership with industry teaching platform the Supply Chain Sustainability School.
CE Midlands is preparing to commence the latest edition of its Diploma in Collaboration in Construction, set to be delivered through a unique partnership with industry teaching platform the Supply Chain Sustainability School.
Ten course tutors from the likes of Bowmer + Kirkland, Freeths and the NHS will be imparting their knowledge through the course, which will cover topics including the Value Toolkit, designing for the environment and collaborative forms of contract.
The classes and coursework will be delivered virtually from April 2023 until January 2024 thanks to a partnership with online construction education platform Supply Chain Sustainability School, utilising the organisation’s expertise in delivering learning experiences to construction professionals.
David Emery, project manager of offsite and digital and market lead for Wales at the Supply Chain Sustainability School, will also be delivering the module on digital and offsite smart construction.
David said: “The 2023 edition of the Diploma in Collaboration in Construction promises to deliver sector-evidenced learning opportunities pertinent to the construction industry. We are similarly altruistic by design to Constructing Excellence Midlands and have created a streamlined learning experience for candidates to take part in classes, complete coursework, as well as communicate with their tutors and peers.
“We have more than 190 organisations subscribed to the school who have helped to feed into the content of our courses, including the 20 biggest companies in the UK, the top ten housebuilders and major infrastructure organisations. Tier one companies need to collaborate to be sustainable and through education they are inherently making a massive contribution to developing smaller organisations and creating visible traces of competencies through supply chains.
“We are a very wasteful industry with approximately only 40% of projects delivered on time. I will be delivering my perspective on how offsite construction can become the norm to bring about improvements to this. Likewise, the construction industry has been slow to embrace technologies but, by creating more digital leaders who understand the significance, we can collectively upskill our teams instead of relying on the next generation to bring this knowledge.”
Academically benchmarked by the University of Wales Trinity St David, the course aims to create and educate the next generation of leaders, as well as encouraging new behaviours, positive disruption and technology-led approaches. Andrew Carpenter, chief executive of Constructing Excellence Midlands, said: “This year’s diploma looks to build upon the great success of the previous edition to inspire a culture of collaboration in construction. As an excessively fragmented and adversarial industry, our substantial partnerships with the Supply Chain Sustainability School and module leaders are a novel approach to professional development in construction.
“From our industry surveys, we can see there is a will to work together to deliver consistent solutions, with education tools such as this diploma having a large part to play to create this shift – which I do believe will open up significant opportunities to enhance collaboration in the construction industry.”
Constructing Excellence Midlands promotes best practice and collaboration across the Midlands construction industry. The Diploma in Collaboration in Construction costs £2,500 plus VAT per delegate.
The Diploma in Collaboration in Construction costs £2,500 plus VAT per delegate. For more information, please visit www.cemidlands.org or download the diploma prospectus here.
Despite decades of research into the barriers faced by female professionals, there remains a lack of gender diversity in the construction industry. This research aims to investigate the existence of a ‘concrete’ ceiling by identifying the barriers to progression which exist for female construction professionals.
This study into the experiences of 20 middle and senior construction professionals suggests that these barriers hinder achievement of gender diversity within the industry and removal of the barriers could help to address the skills shortage
You can read Nikita’s full document HERE