My crazy journey to transform the construction industry / For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the built environment. I have admired and enjoyed the structures that surround us and love trying to understand how these things go together. I originally wanted to be an architect but my path eventually led me to become a design manager and I loved it! I love the cut and thrust of delivering a job, I love overcoming challenges either on-site or in the office before a project gets to site and, above all, I loved working in a team to deliver something that would truly change the World in a small way. Whether that’s through providing scientific research, education or jobs… what a feeling to be able to change the World!
Yet I find myself frustrated, pissed off, angry. Why is the construction industry only famous for being late, shit and over budget?
If I’m honest, we don’t help ourselves.
The construction industry is in a bad place right now and tier 1 contractors are really wobbling and struggling to move forward. Grenfell, issues with delivering Crossrail, uncertainty around major infrastructure projects and, most notably, the collapse of Carillion are hitting the industry hard.
We have a major skills shortage which isn’t going to be helped by BREXIT. People don’t want to come into the industry and I can’t blame them with the way the industry is portrayed.
The industry is slow to adopt new technologies that could help to plug this skills gap. We have been trying to drive the adoption of BIM and yet people still ‘don’t get it’.
We have a mental health crisis with more suicides than any other industry in the UK. This is, partly, down to how male-dominated the industry is with toxic masculinity a real poison that is crippling the industry.
We are not diverse enough as an industry. Too many men. Not enough BAME. Lack of real support and inclusion for the LGBT community.
This list of negative stories goes on and this doesn’t help an industry that is self-conscious following years of put-downs from the media and public and years of not advertising itself well enough.
Towards the end of 2018, this negativity started to get to me, more so than it had started to encroach into my own business. I looked around the industry for leadership, those who are dragging the industry forward, changing perceptions, shouting down the neigh-sayers.
Admittedly, there are some doing some great work but nothing collective. Nothing that truly champions the people of the industry. I mean, where is our Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson? Where is the charismatic leadership that will truly transform the industry and inspire change?
I failed to find this. So, I thought I’d do something myself.
What am I doing?
There is a lack of charismatic, strong leadership in the sector to truly transform and champion it. It is my belief that people should be at the centre of any change and, in particular, digital change. I feel companies should manage people based on their motivations rather than a process. This is no more apparent than in construction where we are told to be more like manufacturing and automotive industries an eliminate people from the process more and more.
As well as the negative perception, there is a hell of a lot of change happening in construction at the moment. Some for the good and some for the bad. Some around quality and some around technology. We need to look at this as a time for opportunity, a time to embrace change.
I am fascinated by leadership and its impact on business, industries and people’s lives and when it is done badly, it really pisses me off. I believe that everyone deserves to be managed by the content of their character and by what motivates them, not by a process that governs them. Everyone deserves a voice that will be listened to. Everyone deserves to be empowered. It is now, at the centre of so much change, that we need to rethink the way we do things and put people first. People before process. People at the centre of transformation. People empowered, with a voice.
So here’s what I’m going to do to change all of this:
- Speak- we want to inspire people and share this message at events across the UK.
- Host ‘This is Change’ events- I want to host events, starting in the north west, that bring people across the industry together. An event that celebrates construction whilst highlighting where we must change.
- Create a #thisischange revolution - through a blog, across social media, and through a dedicated website. I want to create the go-to place for industry thought leadership and best practice.
We are going to show people how to lead the industry by celebrating and empowering the great people within it. This is Change and I can’t wait to get started.