Category Archives: improvement

Are you running on Square Wheels?

Have we wasted a good crisis?

In an earlier blog post I used the expression of pedalling squares to illustrate how progress and development in sustainability is often a clunky and inefficient activity. Recently, for a number of workshops and presentations I also revisited a cartoon I had used in previous ‘business improvement’ roles and TQM days  – the very clever square wheels approach from squarewheels.com

There is so much we can talk about here:

The obvious is that we struggle with square wheels and clunky approaches, when the more efficient round wheels are available –  we know about them – but they are just used.

Within construction we have some great new round wheels available to us that will improve our business, our services to clients and image, for eg BIM, Social Media, Circular Economy and Restorative Sustainability to name a few. These nice new shiny round wheels – carried and not used – are necessary in a construction organisations baggage – we need to use them in PQQ, PR and interviews to demonstrate a sense of being tuned into current industry improvement programmes.

But looking closer, the poor leader is up front dragging this inefficient cart – hopefully with a sense of direction, usually based on profit, turnover and immediate customer needs, but lacking real vision and foresight – otherwise the new round wheels would be used.

Behind the cart we have employees, pushing with the energy sapping stop/start rythym that only square wheels can give, but unable or not allowed to see ahead and understand where the business is heading.

Not an efficient model. Does this describe your view of construction or your organisation?

Many organisations have started to do a wheel change – some encouraged through the never waste a good crisis thinking – seeing the lean times as time for investment in the future, some through Innovation Vouchers or other funded support.

Think about starting 2014 with a more efficient approach by understanding how organisations – often your competitors – are implementing new wheels.  Find out more.

Related:

Sustainability: in equilibrium … or pedalling squares?

A TQM for the social media, digital age?

Advertisements

A TQM for the social media, digital age?

I see Harvard University are initiating a Digital Problem Solving programme for the digital age.

The Digital Problem-Solving Initiative (DPSI) at Harvard University is an innovative and collaborative project piloted in Fall 2013 that brings together interested students, faculty, fellows, and staff and enables participants to work in teams on practicable and concrete digital use cases – problems and opportunities – across the university.

The pilot offers students and other participants a novel opportunity to enhance and cultivate competency with digital tools and online activity as teams engage with research, creative production, and policies governing the digital world.”

This looks an interesting project, dusting down the 80’s and 90’s Total Quality Management, (problem solving, team work, quality circles and more) and re-inventing for a digital age. Anyone remember great work done through National Society for Team Work (NSQT)?

Wondering if any UK University would be interested in or is running a similar pilot?

Before all those programmes and initiatives, and indeed the foundation for them all was the Deming improvment PDCA cycle ( Plan Do Check Act) which still holds great significance in a social media, digital enabled world.

PDCA_Process

For all projects, we need to consider the planning, the execution, the checking and importantly how we will act and improve for next time around.  (Which makes the Deming cycle an ever improving spiral) And of course requires continual effort to maintain equilibrium as my last blog post explored

The Checking is not just numbers and inspections, but critically the stories from those involved – as evaluation. Today, social media  can really enable the collation, sharing and analysis of stories, and hence has a huge part to play in future KPI’s (key performance indicators) as we move forward to ever more social businesses and organisations.  (Subscribe to this blog for future updates and support on this topic)

Helping your planning, doing, checking and improving efforts keep in equilibrium 

Innovation Voucher Provision

mb-m-and-c-1-blueThe Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is making Innovation Vouchers available worth up to £5000 for construction and built environment companies. Applications are due to open on the 10th of December and close on the 23rd of January 2013.

Fairsnape in association with IBE-Partnership is delighted to assist you  in preparing and submitting your application for Innovation Vouchers in the following topics that we offer as your innovation provider to improve your construction performance.

  1. Social Media – Awareness, Getting Started, Developing, Strategy and Policies, Measuring,
  2. CSR – Awareness, Developing Strategies, Integrating and aligning systems, Measuring.
  3. Sustainability (1) – Awareness, Strategy, Policies, Aligning / writing systems, Measuring
  4. Sustainability(2) – (Beyond Waste) – Awareness, circular economy, cradle to cradle thinking, healthy products innovation, measurement,
  5. Construction Carbon – Awareness, Strategies, Measuring and Improving, Application of wold class tools
  6. Benchmarking – (Beyond KPI’s) – Awareness, Strategy, Benchmarking Project, Measuring, Application of world class tools
  7. Business Strategy – (EFQM) Awareness, Improving overall and holistic strategy, facilitation, measurement
  8. Collaborative Planning / Last Planner – Awareness, Strategies, Training, Guidance, Facilitation, Application of world class tools
  9. Lean Construction Techniques – Awareness, Strategies, Training, Guidance, Facilitation, Application of world class tools
  10. Collaborative Working – Awareness, Strategy, Principles, Training, Facilitation, Preparation for BIM
  11. BIM – Awareness, Strategy, Policies, Preparation Plan, Facilitation,
  12. Customer Management– Awareness, Strategies, Training, Guidance, Facilitation, Application of world class tools
  13.  ISO14001 – Awareness, Strategy + Policies, Improving/Writing EM system + process, training, readiness for assessment
  14. ISO90001 – Awareness, Strategy + Policies, Improving/Writing QM, training, readiness for assessment system + process
  15. PAS 2030 – Awareness, Strategy + Policies, Improving/Writing Green Deal system + process, training, readiness for assessment
  16. Bidding – Awareness, Strategy, Process/Approach, Support,

mb-m-and-c-1-blueThis is a great opportunity for you to innovate and improve your effectiveness and efficiency, improve attractiveness to clients  and of course improve the bottom line at no cost to you. If you are interested in progressing further please call or get in touch to discuss.

00 44 7776 234702

Email | Twitter | Blog Linkedin | G+

Sustainability: Breaking on through to the other side

“Break on through to the Other Side”  sang Jim Morrison in the Doors way back in the 60s.

Listening again recently started me thinking of how ‘sustainability’ could be ‘breaking through to the other side’ … to a time / place where sustainability and CSR is the norm rather than something we strive for.

This, however, begs a number of tricky questions and answers

Just what does sustainability and social responsibility really look like? When or how will we know we have arrived? What exactly do we have to ‘break through’? What is the tipping point?

What we should find really exciting is that we dont really know, we dont know where the boundary or tipping point is. Where, what or indeed how far we need to push.  Are we nearly there or light years away?  This makes sustainability an adventure and exploration.

And of course many argue, quite rightly, that sustainability is a journey not a destination or a state of business.

A tipping point may well come when organisations move across a rubicon, from trying to do good whilst making a profit, to making a profit from doing good.  (I am reminded here again of Yvon Chouinard at Patagoniaevery time we do the right thing for the environment we make a profit”)

Have we made sustainability and CSR too intellectual? I fear so. Is it now far too embedded in checklists, processes and systems. We have lost connection with the natural world, with planet earth, the very reason we need sustainability, resilience and CSR?

Perhaps the tipping point to breaking through to the other side is re-igniting this connection, where we dont need a tag, or a label, but doing the right thing as an organisation or individual is the norm and ‘feels’ right, rather than something we do because we are encouraged, nudged or told to do.

Through fairsnape, organisations are supported in understanding their Route to Zero, where zero is a target, the route the more important, and supported in breaking through barriers.

If you are interested in learning more, I invite you to join me in the sustainability and CSR conversations on twitter, to subscribe to this blog or to get in touch at fairsnape for more information

And a thought for the built environment in 2012… what do you see as the sustainability boundaries that we need to break through and move beyond?

Construction lacks green, key business and foresight skills

Construction lacks essential skills. A recent poll of 1,450 construction employers, conducted by Construction Industry Training Board and Sector Skills Council, CITB-ConstructionSkills, skills gaps such as understanding the implications of green issues (43%), identifying potential new business (39%) and not having sufficient IT skills (43%) were all areas picked out by industry managers and supervisors as lacking in their organisations.

In addition, a third (32%) of employers said that keeping up to date with the latest innovations, products and techniques was an important concern for their business. A further 32% also stated that their management team’s ability to identify the training needs of staff was an area that needed improvement.

Begs the question what have we been doing in the world of construction improvement over the last two decades since these skills were identified in seminal reports, eg Egan , Latham and others.

Importantly it also demonstrates a lack of awareness and vision at board, owner or senior management levels to identify, acknowledge and prepare for emerging trends, particularly in the sustainability, IT and social media arena.

Links:

A Low Carbon Diet For Construction Boards (CSRWire post by Martin Brown)

Future Proofing the Boardroom – Part One: Grounding and Stargazing (CSRWire post by Lucy Marcus)

Link to CITB 

Counting construction carbons with ConstructCO2

This blog has reported on numerous occasions (eg here and here) on the need to measure and improve carbon emissions from construction activities separately from that of the building itself or the facility in use. And the need for an easy, simple to use tool.

As noted many of the available applications for calculating carbons were linked dubiously to carbon offsetting schemes.  Of note for use in construction were the Google Carbon tool (but not construction specific enough) and the Environment Agency tool (but is proving to be too detailed and cumbersome for most projects)

Measuring and improving carbons on site is increasingly important as more and more projects seek higher standards to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (and soon Non Dom Buildings).  One recent project set ‘damages’ for the contractor not achieving the ‘management points’ (for waste, CO2 and considerate constructor standard) for CSH at £40k per point. (See the CSH Technical Manual for more on this)

Recently at EcoBuild Paul Morrell, Construction Tsar commented  that focus on carbon emissions should be a number one site priority as it is measurable and addresses other areas of ‘waste’ in the industry

And yet the majority of contracts just do not know their project carbon footprint, whether its close to 1tonne or over 100tonne. We do not have a feel for the magnitude of emissions, or indeed what 1kg of CO2 actually looks like.

So it is good news to see the release of ConstructCO2, developed through Evolution-ip, by construction people for construction use.

ConstructCO2 is a simple carbon calculator based on the premise of keeping it simple and easy to use on site. It makes use of existing site approaches for data collection (induction sheets, daily log-ins, plant sheets, utility invoices etc). Carbon emissions through transport are calculated through use of google mapping API .

Construction (people) travel miles are recorded for management, operatives and visitors. (With a dispersed project management team you will be surprised at the carbon footprint of a project site meeting and probably think of alternative arrangements) Material transport miles are derived from delivery notes or goods received sheets.

Where the power of ConstructCO2 lies however is in its reporting. Construction carbons can be measured in terms of co2/£project value, co2/dwelling, c02/m2, co2/bed or other, enabling benchmarking with other projects and generically through KPI’s such as those from Construction Excellence.

But simply knowing the project footprint, the construction company’s total project footprint, and where the biggest areas for carbon emission are enables action for real improvement.

ConstructCO2 is currently being used by a number of different projects in what I guess would be called a beta stage. Current projects include a large new build hotel project, a small industrial refurb project, school extension and an architect’s office.

Currently the use of ConstructCO2 as a tool is free, with a (currently optional) fee based support and training package to help contractors understand carbon issues, carbon standards requirements, measuring, benchmarking and improving carbon footprints.  So it makes sense to take the opportunity now, measure and understand the carbon footprint of one of your projects. At the moment sign up is through request via email contacts on the ConstructCO2 front page

Future developments include the option for live energy feeds from site power meters to ConstructCO2 and live exporting from ConstructCO2 to Google and Pachube for example.

ConstructCO2 is on twitter at @constructco2 and has a ning forum in development for discussion and benchmarking of project carbon issues.

Note: As an associate with Evolution-ip, I have been involved in the ConstructCO2 concept development and testing.  Evolution-IP is a be2camp partner, presenting at and sponsoring be2camp un-conference events.

twittering on the edge of chaos?

It seems everyone is trying to understand and analyse  twitter at the moment, so after nearly a year of twittering , here are my thoughts:

Perhaps it is a little more than coincidence that Twitter has been named after our feathered friends,  as it is very close, in my mind, to the classic edge of chaos example of how birds flock.  

Birds flock  through following a set of unwritten, uncommunicated simple  rules.  Flocking birds have no manual, no procedures to follow, no dos and do nots, no bird etiquette, they just do it , and do it by instinct and in spectacular fashion. 

And they all do it. (Have you ever seen one bird turn the wrong way at the wrong time to create a mangle of free-fall bird feathers – no, never).  

And so it is, could, should? be with Twitter

It works at so many different levels for so many different purposes, and here is its power, it is all things to all people and brilliant for it, and we twitters like them boids, don’t need lists of dos and donts, guidance, rules or twitterquette, we just do it,  we just twitter.  (Maybe this is why many say they just ‘dont get it’ – there is a sense of jumping in and using twitter and see what emerges, rather than a calculated action plan) 

Indeed it is the relationships between the agents (us as twitters, or the birds) and the scope for emergence are is so important in keeping twitter at the edge of chaos.

Chaos theory is often illustrated through the butterfly affect ( a butterflies wings flapping in Chile can cause storms in Europe, a concept I have called small in large out – SILO)   Again Twitter demonstrates this concept incredibly well – one tweet  can spread through the global twitter community probably faster than any other form of communication known. (eg news stories broken through twitter) 

So is twitter really an application of complexity theory in practice, a demonstration of the ‘edge of chaos’ paradigm?   I think so, and  having long used the concepts of complexity theory (simple rules, agents, relationships, SILO and emergence) to allow management system processes and procedures to become so much more effective and efficient, (eg where many ‘control’ procedures can be replaced with a few simple rules)  I see twitter applications having a future within management systems, just not sure exactly how yet!

But … others more learned in the complexity / chaos theory may like to comment, agree  or correct me ?

Oh, and since tweeting I have, through twitter,  purchased a chicken coop, won and let work contracts, helped others win work,  learnt so much, made new friends and contacts, been inspired and shocked, eaten humble pie once or twice and hopefully shared something of use in return.  Fellow twitters have shared births, deaths, job losses and job finds, sadness, anger and great happiness ….. Brilliant.