Out of Crisis: LCBPC Never waste a good crisis event.

Don Ward, Constructing Excellence presented to the Lancashire Construction Best Practice Club on Tuesday night, focusing on the Never Waste a Good Crisis report published at the end of 2009.  The report contains four messages:

The industry has improved over the last decade

4 blockers have slowed the pace of change

Recession may provide the impetus needed for change

Collaborative working is even more important for this next era

Collaborative working has been the foundation of industry improvement and as Don explained the root ‘solution’ for current industry themes of safety, people respect, improving value and addressing sustainability.

Don referred to the Collaborative Working Champions work and survival guide that stresses we need more effort to work collaboratively, doing nothing different is a dead end route and to revert to (adversarial) practices of the past suicide.

Addressing the question “what comes after frameworks”, the answer was “frameworks done correctly”, for improving value and not just as a cheaper or easier procurement route that can’t deliver value.  (After presentation debate talked of the increase in framework hubs, such as the North West Hub,  particularly as indications are that more public procurement will be done locally with end user management. These ‘new’ clients will look to join hubs that have ‘pre-selected’ contractors and designers.

As would be expected by anyone familiar with the improvement agenda, Don used the 1-5-200 approach to demonstrate the leverage of construction on business and organisational activity, reinforcing that we need to think business need, not buildings.

In the following excellent debate, concern was expressed by contractors on the expectation that they must continually reduce costs, profits and overheads, even when selected for frameworks. Consequently, argued Don, myself and others, there is a urgent need for reducing costs through the use of lean construction principles, identifying and reducing waste (time, energy, not just material waste) in construction, whilst at the same time addressing the carbon reduction agenda. Indeed the carbon agenda may well be driver here. It was pointed out we need to learn from other sectors who have adopted lean, throughout their supply chains and taken their lean solutions to the clients, rather than wait for project opportunities.

Don mentioned that the chief construction advisor Paul Morrell is mined to suggest that BIM ( Building Information Modeling) become compulsory for all public construction work, such are the benefits BIM can bring

With focus on the construction industry looking set to be the eco-refitting of existing buildings (to address rising energy costs and the Carbon Reduction Commitmentscheme) the question was asked do we have the skills, systems and resources to meet the £40b spend expected, or will we see new entrants into the industry. Tesco, Virgin or utilities companies where floated as potential drivers in this emerging sector. Will we be more trustting of these organisations to improve our homes, offices or schools than construction companies?

In response to the competition smaller SME contractors face when bidding against larger, regional or even national contractors, Vassos from iBE and David Kemp from Regenerate (Peninne Lancs) desribed the approach of SME clusters, or consortia of small contractors successfully pooling experience, resources and bid potential.

As a footnote, back in the 1950’s quality guru Edward Deming in Out of the Crisistalked of two options for pulling industry out of the then post world war crisis, either improve quality or reduce costs. What route will we take now?


The next club event will be on the 16th Sept, at Blackburn looking at education and training innovations in the region. This will also be the club AGM

For more information on the Lancashire Best Practice Club contact myself atfairsnape@gmail.com The club are also on twitter @lcbpc as is constructing excellence @constructingexc

Dons presentation can be viewed / downloaded here

Never Waste a good Crisis report can be viewed / downloaded here

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