As recovery gathers pace specialist contractors would do well to make sure that their voice is heard. Proactively participating in the debate about how to build a better and stronger future.
The Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Road to Recovery strategy talks of transforming the business model of the sector to create a more collaborative, fairer and resilient industry, supporting firms in the supply chain to succeed, and maintaining the workforce at all levels. All good stuff for specialist contractors.
Construction generates employment and cash that fuels the economy and it is now recognised as an engine for growth. During the crisis it’s gaining respect from Government for a commitment to find safe and effective ways to keep working. Instead of squabbling up and down the supply chain the industry, led by the CLC, has work as a cohesive group.
Working as one voice
Competing agendas are being swept away as the whole industry continues to speak with one voice. Working together and create a win-win, and not, some-win and some-lose approach.
Construction is a sensitive ecosystem made up of large corporates, regional heavyweights niche players, and tens of thousands of SMEs across the trades. Capacity and capability varies considerably from mega national contracts to small neighbourhood schemes.
There are some fantastic examples of achievement and technically there are many high performers in the supply chain. Equally there are some shocking examples and when disaster strikes the failings of the industry are exposed.
The ‘Next Normal’
Compound these experiences with a culture that is confrontational and has resulted in a poor reputation, poor performance and low margins. Despite some hic-ups in the court of public opinion in the early days of the crisis, the sector has got its act together, cut out the waffle and delivered. The Covid-19 Site Operating Procedure were created within a week of lockdown; a fantastic achievement.
But now the sector must focus on building back better than before. New research from management consultant McKinsey & Company says the Covid-19 crisis will accelerate the change process needed to raise standards of performance. It suggests that in the ‘Next Normal’ only those companies that invest in skills, embrace change and adopt new ways of thinking and production will survive.
We are therefore on the edge of a transformational opportunity and it should not be squandered. Businesses that adjust their operating models should be able to take advantage of opportunities in the ‘Next Normal’ and accelerate the introduction of more modern methods of design, sequencing, production and installation.
Great minds think alike
Everyone has a part to play. Most successful contracts are ones where clients bring dynamic leadership to a diverse supply chain. They’ve worked best where design and construction is integrated, responsibility is allocated, then those who deliver are held to account for their actions, and when successful everyone is rewarded.
Successful alliances mean new ideas can be explored to improve performance safe in the knowledge that nobody will be hounded. Clients can remain commercially aggressive but with clear leadership and communication that respects and supports the supply chain, there is the nirvana of win-win.
We don’t know what the ‘Next Normal’ could look like, and in reality it’s probably a long way off. What we do know is that it will be built around skills, technology, new ways of thinking and profit. Now that’s a win-win.
Adrian JG Marsh
Editor – Spector magazine