‘Hope’ by Martyn Jones

Jun 1, 2023

As usual in September, we embark on our new Season of activities to influence construction’s change agenda. This time, of course, we are facing unprecedented challenges: The ongoing war in Ukraine, the almost daily evidence of impending climate disaster, ecocide, global supply chain disruption, flatlining productivity, growing inequalities, and other difficulties.

But there’s hope too, buoyed by the confidence we have in our ingenuity as human beings, in our resilience, in our creativity in overcoming challenges, coupled now with the immense opportunities for technological and organisational transformations offered by AI and other emerging technologies. And fresh ways of organising and working too.

Given the sometimes seemingly insurmountable problems we face, Martyn Jones argues that sustaining hope has become more important than ever. Why so? Well, hope allows us to approach problems with a mindset and a set of strategies to enable success, thereby increasing the chances that we will accomplish our challenging goals.

Hope is not a brand-new concept in psychology. In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with ‘Hope Theory.’ They argued that hope consists of agency and pathways.

People who have hope have the will and determination (the agency) that goals will be achieved, coupled with a set of strategies at their disposal (the means) to reach their goals. Put simply, hope involves the will to get to where you want to be, and the ways to get there. This has always been right at the heart of Constructing Excellence thinking. Psychologist Shane Lopez, who has studied hope extensively, defines it as “the belief that the future will be better than the present, coupled with the belief that you have the power to make it so.” It is this combination of optimism and personal agency that differentiates hope from bravado or wishful

thinking. When we buy a lottery ticket, we are engaged in wishful thinking. When we draw up the business case and strategies for a business or a construction project we are in the realm of hope.

And that’s where Constructing Excellence can play a key role. Seeing hope as a strong force for change and helping us to work collaboratively to shape a better, positive, plausible, greener, more productive, healthier, more equitable future.

We can support the will of clients – and leaders from all parts of the supply chain – to get to where the built environment and our planet needs to be but also helping them to shape – and more importantly – deploy the means by which we can confidently get there, meeting the challenges along the way and making the most of the opportunities.

We shouldn’t see hope as just a feel-good emotion but rather as a dynamic, cognitive, and motivational approach. Within this concept of hope, emotions follow cognitions or thoughts, not the other way round, with hope leading to learning goals, which can drive change and improvement.

We, in Constructing Excellence, have a long history of encouraging our members to set learning goals, to be actively engaged in learning, constantly planning strategies to meet their goals, and monitoring their progress to stay on track.

But this role is now more important than ever as we help each other to imagine a more credible future that is better than the present. By identifying the pathways to that future (drawing on the technologies and new ways of working associated with the new techno-economic paradigm), we will cultivate hope that is both effective and resilient.

So instead of fixating on a dismal future, we should work together to consciously imagine plausible alternative prospects that stimulate energy and motivation instead of dread and anxiety. Constructing Excellence has the means to package and dispense hope, like a bestselling pill, but more powerful than any antidepressant on the market!

But our ambition need not stop there. Alongside this, our Theme Groups: Future Skills, Climate Crisis, SMART Construction and Building Safety, along with our partner LeadersMeets, can provide the collective thinking and means to harness the new technologies, and help implement smarter, greener, and safer solutions.

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