Category Archives: project management

from brightgreen: how to use environmental leaders

Last Friday Bright Green Talent posted this excellent five point guide:

Dreadlocks, demonstrations and duck ponds – What does today’s environmentalist look like?

What are the characteristics of these environmental leaders and how can you use them to drive your business forward?

1. Big minds: Environmental leaders have a history of excellence in everything they do. Graduating from the top universities, they are aspirational, yet practical. They are naturally drawn to complex problems that span science, economics and society.

2. Learners, not cogs: Don’t expect an environmental leader to become another cog in an organisational machine. They are here to learn and to make a difference. They flourish in small organisations, visionary
consultancies and larger organisations with a big mandate for change.

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on be excellent

Around 10 or so years ago I was part of a BE (now constructing excellence) development group which produced the Be Excellent document and tool.

The premise was to increase the awareness of constructions relationship within facilities management and excellence through collaboration by mean of a self, or facilitated assessment tool.

What is Be Excellent?
Be Excellent is a simple but rigorous examination of business practice for all disciplines within the construction industry using the EFQM Business Excellence Model as the platform and take on board the important criteria for Collaborative Working, Supply Chain Management and the “design through to operational requirements” of Facilities Management.
If answered honestly and thoroughly, Be Excellent will identify those areas which an organisation needs to concentrate on to improve performance. Whether the organisation decides to make these a priority is a question of where each sits within their overall strategic plan.

During these last two weeks I have support a number of organisations with Be Excellent, so, with ‘excellence’ being on my mind,  I share my thoughts here.

I continue to use this approach as a first step analysis, helping groups or organisations understand where to put improvement energies and efforts.  It works best as a consensus approach, with a number of assessments done across the width and depth of the organisation, providing an unique and revealing assessment of approaches, deployment and results.  An assessment I refer to as a peoples view of the organisation, which is often at odds with a purely management view.

And here is a main difference between this consensus approach and the top down ISO 9001 improvement or quality models.  People want to be involved, or at least have a voice in shaping improvements, not to be forced into improvements via independent audit non conformance’s.

EFQM ( European Framework for Quality Management) arose out of the 1980/90’s TQM (Total Quality Management) ideas.  The UK construction sector at that time flirted with TQM but never really made the initiative ‘stick’, as it was just that an initiative with a shelf life, and not sustained. Indeed one of the factors that moved me away from employment with large contracting was the lack of ‘stickability’ on improvement, flitting across what was in vogue or required by any client at any one time. It was, and still remains, an add-on to business.

And yet the orginal philosophy and premise of EFQM remains strong and sound, providing an holistic view of any organisation, and in particular the connectivity between functions, approaches and processes, often revealing the weaknesses in the typical siloed organisation.  For example EFQM and Be Excellent force you to address questions such as:

  • How are you strategies, objectives and policies founded on customer intelligence and requirements, now and into the future?
  • How do you manage, recruit and develop people in line with your vision and strategies, How does leadership act as a role model?
  • How do you procure resources to deliver your strategies, are finances, knowledge and information aligned to your strategies, or are they a barrier, and
  • Do processes really translate your vision, objectives and strategies into operations or are they there to satisfy some other ‘tick’ box?

There is an scoring mechanism alongside Be Excellent , but this serves as a device to prioritise actions, and it is the action planning that is the main outcome. From these action plans facilitated workshops can drill down to the real root of issues, using for example the Toyota Five Whys approach, a main ingredient of lean construction or six sigma. Its is amazing where you get to on asking the fifth why, for example a recent exercise identified an issue of poor recognition for good work, 5 whys drilled it down further as:

  • We don’t hear about good things
  • We don’t tell people about success’s
  • We don’t like to blow our own trumpets
  • We look for wrongs not rights in reviews
  • Our lessons learnt exercises focus on negatives and not positives

A programme was then put into place to review the lessons learnt process, to capture good learning points so they can be repeated, in addition to problems to avoid.

Over the years the trends from Be Excellent have become very clear:

  • we are good at approaches, new initiatives, new management systems, achieving ISO standards and other on the wall certificates.
  • we are ok, but not so good at deployment, that is deployment of the approach is not sustained, either over time, or across an organisation, and often suffers at the whim of changing management.
  • we are poor at learning, at analysing results for trends causes, and comparisons, and then on closing the loop to improve.

Sadly, this reflects the view of Deming back in the 1950’s, that we do not close the Plan Do Check Act loop, even less so see this as a spiral, with the Act taking us to a better, more informed Plan position for the next project or time period.  Be Excellent provides the peoples view to kick start and to sustain the improvement cycle.

A copy of  Be Excellent can be downloaded from here and you if would like to discuss this topic in more detail contact us here.

wanted – intergrated construction manager –

A friend across in the US gave me the heads up on a job advert for an Integrated Construction Manager at Mortenson Construction .  What made me look twice at the job specification was the inclusion of all the themes and issues that we discuss today, as being the way forward, themes of virtual design, BIM, integrated management, collaboration and joined up thinking with facilities management. A sign of the times or a glimpse into the future of construction management?

Extracts from the spec:

  • The IC Manager is responsible for providing input and leadership to the design and/or virtual design and construction process.
  • Coordinates design team members and Preconstruction services (i.e. estimating, scheduling, project planning, constructability, site utilization, etc.).
  • manages the integrated delivery team’s resources
  • Oversees the preparation of models for facilities management.
  • Facilitator of project collaboration and integrated delivery activities

and basic responsibilities:

  • Oversees the production and management of 3D models
  • Establishes the scope of work for projects
  • Establishes the schedule and deliverables for integrated delivery services
  • Oversees construction coordination
  • Communicates model generated information to project team
  • Implements 3D technology during construction
  • Participates in the research and development of new technologies
  • Internal training
  • Develops project BIM models
  • Attends, participates and presents at conferences
  • Manages others
  • Business Development support
  • May lead the Operating Group Integrated Construction team
  • What is missing of course is the green sustainability theme, but then some would say that is taken for granted today, a given that an integrated construction manager would build green. (Discuss!)

    Tempted?  Seattle?  Very…

    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.

    JCT legally binding sustainability contracts?

    To reinforce that we cannot address sustainability, carbon reduction and waste management from a hearts and minds, save the planet for future generations, common sense point of view and approach, JCT have started a consultation process as to which sustainability items should be made contractual within JCT forms of contract, as in legally binding commitments.

    Details are on the JCT site

    One of the consultation questions allows you to choose from a list of themes you would like seen as a contractual issue (see below), which gives a pretty good indication of what JCT is thinking.

    Would the sustainability contract be with client and contractor, or all, as per the JCT Constructing Excellence Collaborative Contract (one would hope!).  Or following a growing school of thought that that the earth should have ‘legal status’, hence with the earth itself?

    Which would you like to see as a contractual clause:

    Carbon emissions associated with construction process
    Carbon emissions associated with the end use of the ‘project’
    Commercial vehicle movements
    Consumption of energy during construction process
    Consumption of energy associated with the end use of the ‘project’
    Consumption of water during construction process
    Consumption of water associated with the end use of the ‘project’
    Economic sustainability in construction supply chain
    Maintenance or optimisation of biodiversity
    Origin of construction materials
    Waste management in construction process
    Waste management associated with the end use of the ‘project’

    best practice innovations and design schedule online

    The USGBC has published the LEEDS innovation and design credits schedule on line, giving all opportunity to view a listing of proven green building strategies that have been submitted and utilized by LEED Certified projects. (source) in design in construction technology and management and importantly in facilities management

    Making a fascinating read with such innovations as:

    Extend the useful life of an existing building and reduce construction waste by Moving an existing building from the site rather than demolish it in the course of this project


    Conserve resources, and integrate the building and environment through Significantly reduce the use of raw materials and integrate site features with the natural environment. Avoid the fabrication, transportation and construction impacts by using locally recovered boulders; Use native raw materials to satisfy structural security requirements


    Employee Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Analyze the CO2 emissions generated by employee automobile commuting: compare the actual employee/staff mileage traveled to a remodeled building on the existing site vs. several proposed sites for new construction. Convert mileage to CO2 emissions and Use the results to determine the final project location.

    As described by the Building Design and Construction online site:

    The LEED Rating System is the USGBC’s voluntary building certification program that defines high-performance green buildings, which are more environmentally responsible, healthier, and more profitable structures. LEED addresses a variety of buildings and building project types through individualized systems, including: new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core & shell, homes and neighborhood development.

    I need to check if the BREEAM scheme, ECO Homes and or Code assessments do or will publish similar schedules. If nothing else they make great reading and will spark innovative ideas.

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    isite 08

    For what its worth, here are my top ten themes for the built environment sector in 2008. These are not predications as such but more of an extension of what I have seen emerge in 2007 and will most likely increase their presence on agendas in 2008…and beyond …

    1 Carbon supply chain management – with carbon zero and carbon neutral being the buzz for 2008, will we see a re-evaluation of the value that supply chains add from a carbon reduction perspective? Each member of a supply chain will prove its worth to the overall chain through reduction or carbon emissions in the product or service it passes on to its customer. Essential in achieving the targets before us as we move along the route to a low carbon sector

    2 Construction (and fm) Carbon footprint – of the construction or maintenance process – we have little understanding of the contribution the construction process itself makes to the life of a building – estimated from 11% to the equivalent of 3 years emissions for a typical home. Not knowing your carbon footprint may well be the equivalent of not knowing your health and safety stats at the end of 2008

    3 ouses, ouses, ouses – a recognition of the importance of wilderness, national parks in light of housing expansion, and the importance these areas have – as a contribution to the environmental balance as well as our collective psyche.

    4 End of greenwashing – well, at least a move from anecdotal blatant greenwashing to more evidenced based claims – we will still see many guilty of the greenwashing sins though to be caught by bloggers, watchdogs and bloggers alike.

    5 Social networking – private facebook type networks such as xing for collaborative working across organisations, projects, supply chains and communities of practice. The use of Web 2.0 technologies to source knowledge and best practice, leading to a re-appraisal of IP perhaps

    6 Open source – An increase in the sharing of technology, knowledge on an open source creative commons approach within our industry. Maybe value will come from using technologies and knowledge rather than just ‘owning ‘ it and restricting its real potential

    7 From excellence to experience – the world of quality seems to have gotten stuck in excellence mode. Yet organisations are increasingly concerned with the experience – the experience of a journey the customer or end user makes through the facility or with an organisation. Often the level and nature of this experience is determined and shaped by the front of house (or organisation) people – facilities management people!

    9 Virtual assets – as more and more organisations move activities and processes on line we see the reduction in need for built physical assets – eg large HQ’s – will the fm sector come to understand the concepts of virtual assets. Will we see FM organisations within Second Life? (we already have a thriving architecture and construction community there)

    10 Community based fm – this one has been bubbling around for a while – but with the increase in social responsibility, social enterprises, community owned assets and the regeneration agenda we can see more community based facilities management approaches, some small such as management of village halls, some larger such as Transition Towns

    More on these in future posts – your comments and additions are more than welcome

    getting to zero

    One of the excellent articles on the new Building Sustainability site is The Year to Zero.  putting many of the important targets and objectives being set for our industry in a chronoligical count down to carbon zero, neutral or ‘sustainability’. (or wherever its is deemed we need to be)
    The article, in conjunction with Fulcron Consultaing will be updated as and when more targets are set, so definelty one to watch.

    I use a similar approach, looking into the ‘planned future’ for our sector, helping organisations set their own strategies and targets, on green and other related topics.  How do your business or improvement plans map onto this timeline?  Will you be ahead of the game, prepared, or lagging and playing catchup? Do you even have a route-map to get you there?

    Webinar – Code for Sustainable Homes

    Further to the last post on carbon neutral and Code for Sustainable Homes, I am reminded from Phil’s blog over at Sustainability Blog that Building are running an on line semiar– a webinar on Code for Sustainable Homes.

    Register and details here. 

    (Unfortunately I am running a real life event at UCLAN, otherwise I would be there, or here, in front of wood stove fire with laptop!)

    Unravelling carbon footprints in supply chains

    We hear allot about supply chain management within our industry, and until recently mainly in the context of improving value, relationships, reducing costs, waste and all the nice performance improvement stuuf.

    What if we add reducing the carbon or ecological footprint into the supply chain management debate.

    An excellent paper from the Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis – Unravelling the Impacts of Supply Chains – A new Triple Bottom Line accounting approach looks at just this issue.

    It also raises the fundamental question on calculating carbon footprints – we are concerned in the main, at the moment, with direct or primary emissions – ie those we, or an organisation are directly responsible for,  How about those (secondary) emissions upstream, through the supply chain activities, raw material production etc, which in the context of a construction footprint surely must be taken into account.
    We have seen this exercise start and stop within other sectors. for example the large supermarket organisation – but will it only be a matter of time before a wider view on the construction carbon emissions and contribution is expected within the built environment?