Blink: the importance for bid interviews and presentations

Currently re-reading Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking in advance of a bidding interview and presentation workshop for contractors tomorrow(*)

According to Malcolm Gladwell,  decision and impressions may occur much faster than previously thought – think instantaneously or in two seconds.

The interview panel may then, without thinking, have made their first impressions as you walk in the room, before you start talking or presenting, yet we focus on content and presentation rather than team composition, team appearance and team impression.

Whenever we have to make sense of complicated situations or deal with lots of information quickly, we bring to bear all of our beliefs, attitudes, values, experiences, education and more on the situation. Then, we thin-slice the situation to comprehend it quickly. The implications of this concept have astonishing significance for our personal reactions to most situations.

We should of course be using this thinking and Gladwells research to advantage.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestselling The Tipping Point explores the extraordinarily perceptive and deceptive power of the sub-conscious mind. Gladwell’s major claim is that decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as a decision made cautiously and deliberately. What we are actually doing is what Gladwell calls ‘thin-slicing’. When we leap to a decision or have a hunch our unconscious is sifting through the situation in front of us looking for a pattern, throwing out the irrelevant information and zeroing in on what really matters. Our unconscious mind is so good at this that it often delivers a better answer than more deliberate and protracted ways of thinking. Much of this is utterly mysterious but some of the most astonishing and useful examples of thin-slicing can be learned.

(*) Contact me for information on bid interview and presentation skills support and workshop

on going local – part one

Mel Starrs over at Elemental has a great and useful article on local resources as seen from the LEED and BREEAM perspectives. Local materials, for local people (or a review of LEED credit MR5.1)  Essential reading for those using these standards and grapling with the concept of local resources.

And yet there is another local resource debate emerging that may well eclipse these standards:

The transition movement approach based on the concepts of peak oil and local resilience necessitates the use of local labour and resources. Rob Hopkins within the Transition Handbook includes building materials as one of the key products, along with food, that can be produced locally.  Re-localisation calls for the production of the means to produce locally – something lost in the cheap transport, cheap oil economies.

A recent presentation from Tom Woolley advocating the use of hempcrete and other cropped based construction products as the  material of the future, paints the picture of the hemp being grown fields local to the new housing project.

Within the UK regeneration projects there is often KPI requirements on the use of local resources and labour, as high as 70%  in an attempt to keep spend local to regenerate the regional and local construction markets.  It remains a key selection criteria on most if not all public procurement PQQ’s.  Corporate organisations often have grand CSR statements on positive approaches to using local labour and organisations. 

And yet a simple plotting of supplier / subcontractor locations on a google map can reveal to clients the visual distribution of spend away from the local area. 

Re-localisation is a debate that will continue, driven by the drive for low or zero carbon, the economy, politics and concepts such as transition and peak oil.  How the standards, LEED /BRREAM and the CSB / CSH influence or reflect this will be of great interest.

… off now to view the Hanham Hall sublitted application plans for their intentions for use of local labour and resources … part 2 to follow.

eco facilities management for government?

The UK  Government has come under criticism recently for not tackling environmental issues with enough vigour to be seen as a role model or exemplar, and failing to meet its own targets.

See: the Sustainable Development Commission report two thirds of departments were not on track to meet the target of reducing emissions by 12.5 per cent by 2010, while a similar report from the National Audit Office criticised civil servants for failing to keep accurate carbon emissions data. Those reports were accompanied by another study from the Commons Public Accounts Committee which claimed rules on sustainable procurement were being widely ignored by civil servants.

Now Companies providing green products and services can now expect a major boost after the government yesterday unveiled its long-anticipated delivery plan for meeting its targets on environmentally sustainable procurement and carbon emissions.

Following on from its recent commitment to ensure all government IT operations are carbon neutral by 2013, the Cabinet Office released a 167-page plan outlining how it intends to ensure departments consider environmental sustainability when making procurement decisions and better meet targets to cut emissions, waste and water use across their facilities.

We can expect these requirements to trickle down the supply chains for service provision (facilities management, IT  and construction) reinforcing the notion of supply chains based on environmental and carbon management, not just cost, and certainly not lowest cost

Source and Links:

UK Governments sustainable procurement and carbon emissions delivery plan announced

Government outlines green procurement overhaul

best practice procurement and support

The Lancashire BPC event last Thursday saw a good number of organisations exhibiting and discussing procurement and support issues with around 70 delegates.  The objective of the day was to allow organisations in the Lancashire area to showcase their procurement requirements and or areas of support, and for delegates to find out their customers requirements and talk to organisations who may be able to support them.

Throughout the day there were a number of small seminars on related themes:

Clive Weston – College and Apprenticeship schemes available through ACCROS

Martin Brown – Bid To Win – ten top tips for improving bid submissions

David Parsons – BSRIA – an overview of the work of BSRIA

Andrew PlattenSustainable Stars competition as part of the Constructing the Future October conference

Chris Gold – Elevates Women into Work programme

My thoughts on the day:

  • a successful and well attended event with plenty of buzz and discussions. It was good to see small group discussions within the networking area.  The seminars were well attended with about 25 present at each. A formula for the club to repeat, taking on board the feedback from delegates and lessons learnt.
  • as expected the sustainability based seminars generated the most discussion.  David from BSRIA generated discussions on biomass boilers not being suitable for schools,  on air tightness and zero carbon homes. Once again it was evident sustainability issues are only just being to be understood by construction people, with the efforts required for zero carbon targets of 2016 for example not fully appreciated as yet.
  • on my ‘stand’ I talked about and gave out information relating to fairsnape services.  I was also pleased to be able to communicate information and goodies on footprintfriends. However the take up on a free one to one session to demonstrate how using web2.0 on the Internet can save time, through bringing news, planning and project leads freely to your computer, was extremely poorly taken up.  Maybe if I charge a corporate fee the take up would be better?

Slides from the seminars should be available soon on the club pages

collaboration makes construction lean

Whilst sharpening up my knowledge on the latest lean in construction thinking I came across this excellent article by Karen Wilhelm which mashes up collaborative working, lean, BIM, 3D and 4D design, collaborative contracts, value chains and more. The brief for Karens paper reads:

Lean in the construction industry offers some lessons for lean manufacturers. Collaboration among companies in the value chain is facilitated by 3D and 4D modeling of the product and process. This focuses the players on constructability, avoiding costly mistakes and assuring just-in-time availability of materials and workers. In some instances, collaboration and lean are being built into standard multi-party contract templates.

sustainable construction commitments launched

The UK Government today launches its Sustainable Construction Strategy, with a whole raft of targets, measures and reporting mechanisms. It seems like it has been a long time coming, the consultation period being most of last year. Construction minister Shriti Vadera comments “Our aim is to become a world leader in sustainable construction” (Building). Time will tell.

Looking back to the response from to consultation we submitted from the Collaboartive Working Champions, it seems the emphasis on integrated and collaboartive working, as a means to sustainability is recognised .

To achieve improved whole life value through the promotion of best practice construction procurement and supply side integration, by encouraging the adoption of the Construction Commitments in both the public and private sectors and throughout the supply chain.

Parts of the industry – clients, consultants, main contractors, specialist contractors*, and product manufacturers and suppliers – to be engaged in supply chains on 30% of construction projects and for 40% of their work to be conducted through integrated project teams. (By 2012)

It is also included with the construction commitments:

A successful procurement policy requires ethical sourcing, enables best value to be achieved and encourages the early involvement of the supply chain. An integrated project team works together to achieve the best possible solution in terms of design, buildability, environmental performance and sustainable development.

And note the reference to ethical sourcing, this is also picked up in the report as responsible sourcing, moving towards a cradel to cradle approach one would hope, maybe along the lines of BS6000, which will wake up a few people and organisations.

And as fellow CWC and blogger Paul over at ExtranetEvolution comments it is good to see ICT within the Innovation section.

I am not sure about the inclusion of the eco-town approach as a target though – has the strategy been hijacked, Trojan horse style, to embed political ambitions?

however, and here is my main observation, admittedly after only a single read but….

I am disappointed to see a lack of facilities management in the document. The strategy is as much about the use, the consumption of buildings as it is about their design and provision. (something about focusing on the 1, out of the 1:5:200 concept). I am now aware that the facilities management sector in the UK is just too weak as a voice to get involved and influence the built environment sustainability agenda. Something that must change.

Yes we may have here a viable construction strategy , but without the link to the end users and management of the facilities (note I avoid the word buildings) we may not have a strategy for a sustainable built environment.

Oh, and why a sustainable document that has a solid black cover. The additional quantity of ink that will be used every time this document is printed or copied will be huge. The answer of course is not to print – but we are not all in the mindset of reading from the screen yet.

Score …

wanted … eco home builder

I have for a while now been exploring Second Life’s contribution to the built environment – on themes of collaboration, education and usability.

One of these ideas is to create a UK Level 6 Eco Home within second life to use as an educational device. A meeting a month or so ago with Pam Broviak (Public Works Director for the City of LaSalle, Illinois) has led to a collaborative project forming an International Eco-Code Park within Second Life. The Public Work island already contains a US Code House, demonstrating how such virtual builds can be used effectively.

Read more over on Pam’s Public Works blog

The island also contains a brilliant bridge tour built by TEEX enabling you to view all risks and hazards of concrete bridge construction. Read a review in the latest, hot of the press, copy of GridWorks

So a plot of land has been cleared, signs put in place, across the street from the US Code House to build a UK level 6 eco home. Perhaps a Dunster (level 7) home or Hanham Hall home? (Location on Public Works)

We are now seeking support from designers and SL builders to help on this exciting project. If you are a SL builder, educator or would like to fund and support this project please do get in touch. (or IM Brand Woodin or Pam Renoir from within Second Life)

When complete, or indeed even in construction, the international eco-code park will enable educational tours and visits from colleges and universities, on site workshops and discussions along with the show casing of real world eco solutions and material. It is even anticipated the homes could be used to give building code assessors more awareness and depth to training – as the existing TEEX bridge and Code house do already.

If you do not have a Second Life – join up through our dedicated Public Work registration site – you will arrive in Second Life at the Public Works Island and meet other built environment professionals there who will assist with any questions.  We look forward to seeing you there.