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This month, Martyn Jones reflects on what can we carry forward from the way we went about innovating in the 1990s. Back then we were asked to “Rethink Construction” in response to the emerging techno-economic paradigm, with its wider availability of computer hardware and software, digital communications, optical fibres, data banks, information services and “chips” (microelectronics).

And it was not just about the technology but the new paradigm required a response to changes in the way firms should be organised and the adoption of new forms of inter-organisational behaviour, business models, cooperation and competition.

For obvious reasons, including very low margins, particularly at Tier 1, construction organisations aren’t big spenders on formal Research and Development (R&D) in comparison with firms in other industries.

Contrary to popular opinion, however, in construction projects we are constantly needing to innovate. For example, in overcoming the challenges and exploiting the often-unique opportunities presented by individual sites and clients. Also building taller, longer, quicker, better, greener etc.

But from time to time – as in the 1990s and now – we see new and more powerful drivers for change emerging that stimulate more intense periods of more radical innovation.

How did we approach the radical innovations called for in the Latham and Egan reports back in the 1990s? Well, the image used for this Thought for the Month will be familiar to those of us involved in the Bristol Rethinking Construction Club’s Specific Innovation Clusters (SICs), where it became something of a mantra.

The SICs were based on the premise that change requires innovation and innovation demands a synergistic combination of learning and leadership.

At that time the innovations we explored, evaluated and customised for construction included building closer, more collaborative inter-organisational relationships; integrating the processes of design and construction; building greater internal and external focus on the needs of customers; sharing learning; and advancing our transformational, situational and distributed styles of leadership.

The SICs were the forerunners of CESW’s Here to Learn Workshops and Thought Leadership Theme Groups.

At that time, we were greatly influenced in our approach by Rothwell’s work on innovation. [Rothwell a British sociologist widely regarded as one of the pioneers in industrial innovation and his significant contributions to the understanding of innovation management.]

He helped identify the key features of the 5th generation innovation process with its emphasis on the System Integration and Networking (SIN) model. The SIN model extended the parallel development of the 4th generation of innovation with the integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ITC) to form a new innovation process.

At that time, the members of the SICs identified the key determinants of successful innovation in construction within the 5th generation innovation model:

· The identification of a clear need for change

· The provision of external support and encouragement to change

· The adoption of a more strategic approach in the management and leadership of innovation

· A systematic approach to developing, implementing, monitoring and sustaining innovation within and between organisations

· Building the commitment of leaders in organisations and projects to innovation and the acceptance of the risks involved

· Developing the responsiveness and readiness of organisations to internal changes and changes in the construction market and wider environment

· Increasingly making use of ICTs to achieve of good linkages within and between organisations, leading to more open, trusting collaborative and creative relationships

· Seeing innovation as a corporate-wide and project-wide opportunity rather than a threat

· The strategic positioning of key individuals and champions of change within organisations and at pivotal points in the design and construction process

· Having an effective and ongoing learning process for individuals and the sharing of learning

What aspects of this can we carry forward from this to help us respond to the new challenges and opportunities we face? Clearly, much of this approach will still be relevant but we also need to be mindful that we are entering a new Digital paradigm that includes greener technologies, AI, robots and drones, and the need for greater social value. We will need to yet again rethink our responses but without abandoning the progress we have already made. New technologies, organisational structures and forms of collaboration, particularly in our response to the challenges of climate change, are emerging but we mustn’t overlook the progress we made in our response to the previous techno-economic paradigm.

By Amanda Long, Chief Executive of the Building a Safer Future Charter

In the built environment sector, the Grenfell Tower Disaster has put building safety at the top of everyone’s agenda. From a moral, social and economic perspective it’s now imperative that we embed enduring values, attitudes and ethical behaviours at the heart of all we do.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent inquiry into building regulations and fire safety clearly identified failure of leadership and culture as key underlying causes of the Grenfell Tower disaster. The ‘Building a Safer Future Charter’ was initiated in response by a group of early adopters including contractors, housing associations and local authorities supported by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government with a vision of having an industry committed to putting people’s safety first.

Responding to the challenge: a charter for putting building safety first The Building a Safer Future (BSF) Charter has been created to promote an urgent and positive culture and behaviour change in the safety of the built environment. There is an urgent need to put people’s safety first in how we plan for, design, build, maintain, and look after the safety of the buildings we live, work or play in and protect those that use them. The Building a Safer Future Charter consists of five commitments that demonstrate commitment to protecting life by putting safety first, ahead of all other building priorities.

It was initiated by the Early Adopters Group as a first step towards spearheading the cultural and behavioural changes required across the industry to achieve a safer building system and has already gained over 220 registered signatories from across the built environment.

Robust benchmarking and independent verification

The BSF Charter has recently launched its ‘Charter Champion’ company initiative to help companies drive the systemic culture change required to put building safety first.

Through robust self-assessment, benchmarking and independent verification, the BSF Charter Champion company initiative will help companies identify potential issues and, in turn, develop continuous improvement plans to advance their overall approach and performance on leadership and culture in relation to building safety. Through their participation in this process companies will be able to identify ways in which they can help to reduce their risk profile in terms of building safety.

The launch of the Building a Safer Future Charter’s ‘Charter Champion’ status is an important step in driving forwards the systemic culture change in relation to major hazard safety that is required across the built-environment sector and through the entire value chain. As we progress on this critical journey we should be seeking to raise standards and build public trust across the industry.

Endorsed as a key driver for change

The BSF Charter has been highlighted by Dame Judith Hackitt and the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) as a key mechanism for leading the culture change required for industry in their report for the Secretary of State and the Minister for Building Safety published in August 2020.

The benchmarking and verification framework has been supported and acknowledged as an important step towards the vital culture and leadership change needed to put building safety first by senior leaders across our industry including the Minister for Building Safety – Lord Greenhalgh, Chief

Inspector of Buildings at HSE – Peter Baker, Dame Judith Hackitt, and Co-Chair of CLC – Andy Mitchell.

Opportunity to demonstrate leadership

The first 13 companies, who are demonstrating real sectoral leadership, have signed up to begin the journey and engage in the robust benchmarking and independent assessment process.

The BSF Charter benchmarking and verification process is now open for participation from across the construction industry. All UK organisations involved in the built environment can proactively participate and demonstrate their commitment to building safety by becoming Registered Signatories to the Charter and, if appropriate, progress to undertaking the ‘Charter Champion’ benchmarking process. This is particularly the case for Duty Holders.

For more information about the Building a Safer Future Charter and how to get involved, visit https://buildingasaferfuture.org.uk/charter-champions-benchmarking-about/. Twitter: @BSFCharter LinkedIn: Building a Safer Future Charter

Welcome to the July edition of the Newsletter, I’m hugely excited to be writing this hot on the heels of judging the CESW Awards.

As a judge of 3 years standing, I’m truly impressed by the passion, ingenuity, hard-work and dedication of the people and teams involved in the celebrated projects.

This year against the most challenging of conditions with the pandemic, new working conditions and materials supply issues, I’m in awe of what has been achieved. From small specialist project through to multi-million pound complex schemes, our industry has stepped up to the challenge.

For many years now we have spoken about ‘collaboration and digital’ – we are now seeing digital tools and collaborative working being adopted and embraced throughout the supply chain at a much faster rate than many of us have seen for years. It’s evident that  new ‘virtual’ working processes are now in place as standard processes as they have demonstrated their value in increasing productivity along with reductions in carbon footprint.

Our ever present skills shortage is again one of the key factors impacting our productivity levels. These award entries demonstrate how the industry has embraced modern technologies and practises –  off-site and digital, carbon reduction programmes and more inclusive and diverse working environments, we would therefore like to share the best practise, knowledge and learning through case-studies and articles. The CESW Team will be in touch over the coming month.

Congratulations to all those shortlisted and don’t forget the Awards Dinner will be held on the 17th September at the Marriott City Centre Hotel, Bristol.

We look forward to seeing you there.

It was a great pleasure for our chair, Andrew Goodenough, & Vice Chair, Emma Osmundsen, to hand over our certificate of Life Membership to Alan Tate who is standing down as our Company Secretary after eight years of exemplary service

There can be no doubt that the engine of CESW is our Theme Groups.

Over the 8 years we have been in existence they have been responsible for delivering extensive collateral for the betterment of the UK construction industry as can be seen HERE

One of the most valuable aspects of membership of CESW is the ability to partake in these working Theme Groups whereby there is a combination of receiving valuable information from expert presentations on the subject matter of the Theme Group as well as working with the group members to produce the collateral identified as necessary to deliver the industry’s improvement agenda.

As a member of CESW we encourage you to join one of our next round of Theme Group Meetings which will be held as below:

We have some exciting events coming up in the next few months folks!

We’re keeping fingers crossed that Covid rules will allow us to have our first in person event of the year on the 6th July with our CESW Housing Summit at Sandy Park, Exeter. We have a fabulous speaker line-up for our first face-to-face major event post lockdown.

Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher will be giving the keynote address, filling us in on issues regarding national housing policy and delivery and planning. Driving up housing supply, increasing home ownership and supporting strong communities with excellent public services.

With the CESW Awards Shortlist due to be announced this week, tickets for the Awards Ceremony Dinner on the 17th September have gone on sale and are at a reduced Earlybird price until July 31st.

 

 

 

For the second episode of the G4CSW podcast series (part of Constructing Excellence South West), Lizzy Painter chats to Toby Child, a project geophysicist at TerraDat UK Ltd. Toby discusses the kind of work a geophysicist does in the construction industry, his own experience of getting to where he is today, and what he thinks the future of the construction industry holds.

To inform the development of the upcoming biomass strategy, the UK Goverment are seeking evidence on how sustainable biomass should be sourced and used to best support our net zero target.

Please find here the link to the publication on gov.uk.

The Call for Evidence will be open until the 15th June.

Responses are invited via the online e-consultation platform, Citizen Space.

The Call for Evidence seeks evidence and views from stakeholders on the potential for Biomass to support the UK’s Net Zero target and reflects the need to refresh and extend the 2012 Bioenergy Strategy. Responses received to the Call for Evidence will feed into the Biomass Strategy, which will be published in 2022, as per the Government commitment in the Energy White Paper, published in December 2020.

The aim of the Biomass Strategy is to review the amount of sustainable biomass available to the UK and how this resource could be best utilised across the economy to help achieve our net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 while also supporting the delivery of our wider environmental targets. The scope of the strategy is wider than energy use and will include other uses such as biochemicals or materials.

 

 

The Building a Safer Future (BSF) Charter has launched its ‘Charter Champion’ company initiative to help companies drive the systemic culture change required to put building safety first.

 

Through robust self-assessment, benchmarking and independent verification, the BSF Charter Champion company initiative will help companies identify potential issues and, in turn, develop continuous improvement plans to advance their overall approach and performance on leadership and culture in relation to building safety. Through their participation in this process companies will be able to identify ways in which they can help to reduce their risk profile in terms of building safety.

 

The first 12 companies, who are demonstrating real sectoral leadership, have signed up to begin the journey and engage in the robust benchmarking and independent assessment process. The organisations include BAM, Galliford Try, Kier, Mace, mhs homes, Persimmon Homes, Places for People, Salix Homes, United Living, Vistry Group, Wates and Willmott Dixon.

 

Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent inquiry into building regulations and fire safety clearly identified failure of leadership and culture as key underlying causes of the Grenfell Tower disaster. The ‘Building a Safer Future Charter’ was initiated in response by a group of early adopters including contractors, housing associations and local authorities supported by MHCLG with a vision of having an industry committed to putting people’s safety first.

 

The BSF Charter has been highlighted by Dame Judith Hackitt and the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) as a key mechanism for leading the culture change required for industry in their report for the Secretary of State and the Minister for Building Safety published in August 2020.

 

The BSF Charter benchmarking and verification process is now open for participation from across the construction industry. All UK organisations involved in the built environment can proactively participate and demonstrate their commitment to building safety by becoming Registered Signatories to the Charter and, if appropriate, progress to undertaking the ‘Charter Champion’ benchmarking process. This is particularly the case for Duty Holders.

 

Lord Greenhalgh, Minister for Building Safety said:

 

“We are taking firm action to ensure that we never repeat the mistakes of the past, with this charter representing a major step forwards in delivering much-needed culture change in the built environment industry.

 

“I warmly welcome its introduction and commend the twelve organisations already signed up to become ‘Charter Champions’.

 

“I would strongly encourage more to get involved, especially those who will be playing a key role in the future building safety regulatory regime.”

 

Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings at the Health and Safety Executive, said:

 

“Self-assessment, benchmarking and independent verification are important elements of a robust system to enable businesses to properly lead, manage and control major building safety risks.

 

“Businesses across the industry need to start preparing now for the new building safety regime. The ‘Charter Champions’ scheme is a valuable contribution to driving the necessary change in culture and performance across the sector to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes.”

 

Dame Judith Hackitt DBE, Author, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety said:

 

“I am delighted to see the formal launch of the Champions of the Building a Safer Future Charter. My congratulations go to Amanda Long and her team for the way in which they have built upon approaches which have been tried, tested and proved effective in other sectors to create the Charter initiative.

 

“I have consistently called for the built environment sector to recognise the need for culture change which can only happen when leaders in the sector stand up and are prepared to demonstrate what good looks like and to be held to account for delivery. I look forward to watching the Charter Champions group grow as others see the benefits of becoming part of this important programme which offers a real market differentiation opportunity.”

 

Andy Mitchell CBE, Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council said:

 

“The Construction Leadership Council welcomes the launch of the Building a Safer Future Charter and its Charter Champions initiative. This is an important step towards an industry that is committed to putting building safety first.

 

“The promotion of cultural change and leadership in the sector is vital and those that wish to demonstrate real sectoral leadership in relation to building safety should be engaged with the Building a Safer Future Charter.”

 

Stephen Elliott, Chair, Building a Safer Future Charter said:

 

“The BSF Charter provides a robust, independent verification process which will drive continuous improvement in leadership and culture in relation to building safety across the industry.

 

“We have taken learning and insights from tried and tested approaches and responses to major accident hazard safety in other sectors such as aviation and chemicals – both

 

nationally and internationally – and contextualised these for the UK built environment sector.”

 

Amanda Long, Chief Executive, Building a Safer Future Charter said:

 

“In the built environment sector, the Grenfell Tower Disaster has put building safety at the top of everyone’s agenda. From a moral, social and economic perspective it’s now imperative that we embed enduring values, attitudes and ethical behaviours at the heart of all we do.

 

The launch of the Building a Safer Future Charter’s ‘Charter Champion’ status is an important step in driving forwards the systemic culture change in relation to major hazard safety that is required across the built-environment sector and through the entire value chain. As we progress on this critical journey we should be seeking to raise standards and build public trust.

 

I am delighted to welcome the first 12 companies on their journey to becoming a Charter Champion.”

 

The Building a Safer Future Charter is referenced in the publication “A Reformed Building Safety Regulatory System: Government response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation” published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government in April 2020. The publication states that “the Government encourages duty-holders to be signatories and commit to the Building [a Safer Future] Charter” as part of a more rigorous approach to accountability.

 

For more information about the Building a Safer Future Charter and how to get involved, visit https://buildingasaferfuture.org.uk/charter-champions-benchmarking-about/.

 

From the 1990s onwards construction has been urged to become more customer focused. The report, ‘Rethinking Construction’ published back in 1998, identified “a focus on the customer as one of the five drivers of change.” The authors of the report saw the customer as the Client or purchaser of a built asset or construction service.

‘Unlocking Specialist Potential’, a report published in the same year questioned the implication that there is only one type of customer – the external customer or commissioning Client. The authors of this report maintained that this did not provide a broad enough view of the participants in a construction supply chain.

They argued another category of customer needed to be recognised – the internal customer. Such internal customer relationships are evident in abundance in construction projects where, for example, the main contractor is the customer of the specialist contractor, and the specialist contractor the customer of the component and/or material manufacturer.

But thirty years on, organisations, particularly in other industries, are recognising that customer focus may not be enough. Providing a good service and consistent quality, supported by surveys measuring customer satisfaction and needs, is increasingly seen as not cutting the mustard.

It is argued that what is needed now is ‘customer intimacy’: A strategy that results in delighted, fully engaged customers and creates a strong differential advantage for suppliers. But building this kind of intimacy with customers is challenging and requires longer-term customer relationships coupled with a fundamental re-alignment of the supplier organisations involved.

So, what are the differences between customer focus and customer intimacy? There are significant challenges in becoming ‘customer intimate’. Here are some of the transitions seen as being necessary to move from customer focus to customer intimacy:

Relationships:

From build strong relationships…to…build deep, multi-level relationships to drive insights

 

Knowledge of customer:

From understanding customer needs…to…use every point of interaction to systematically gather, analyse and generate data and insights

 

Customer service:

From transactional building customer satisfaction around T,C and Q…to…to the end-to-end lifecycle experience of customers and exceeding their desired outcomes

 

Value:

From identify and satisfying stated needs and preferences…to…creating solutions to needs that customers don’t yet know they have

 

Innovation:

From feedback loops to inform product and service development…to…using insights to reshape end-to-end processes, services and the lifecycle of products.

 

So, how do organisations go about transitioning from customer focus to customer intimacy? Like any strategy, it is not one to be contemplated or pursued lightly. It requires a further rationalisation of market segments and customers, focused leadership and learning, and further intra- and inter-organisational alignment by suppliers to realise it.

 

First, looking at customer rationalisation. Customer intimacy requires high levels of investment in developing insights into customers and creating new bespoke value solutions. This requires targeting efforts on specific customers and market segments who are receptive to the idea.

 

Second, the appropriate value propositions need to be established. Different customers will require specific products and services.

 

Third, alignment of the organisation and, in turn, key participants in the downstream value chains. Whole organisations, including key suppliers, need to be configured to deliver the intended strategy. This is not just about putting good customer service at the interfaces between organisations where there are direct interactions (although this is important) but ensuring that the rest of the organisation and other organisations in the supply chain deliver on the promise of greater intimacy.

 

Clearly, these actions are not easy in much of construction given the uniqueness of each building, its production processes, and the transient customer-supplier relationships. The procurement strategies adopted by clients and indeed customers along the supply chain are unhelpful too as supplier selection is often dominated by consideration of price and time rather than quality and value.

 

On the positive side, a distinct advantage that construction suppliers have over those in many other industries is that Clients and internal customers down the supply chain have the opportunity to build some degree of intimacy, even in the case of one-off projects. And, with the rise in the use of frameworks and other means to build longer-term customer-supplier relationships it is possible for all construction suppliers to aim for some degree of greater customer focus and even customer intimacy.

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