With reports that failed construction giant Carillion had widespread cultural failings and an aversion to change, the industry is no longer able to stick its head in the sand and pretend that it doesn’t need to transform the way it operates.
Sadly, this is not a one-off in construction and, with businesses as big and as influential to major projects as Carillion failing almost without warning, it’s a solitary lesson to the rest of the industry.
Rail and utility companies – particularly the water sector – have seen significant benefits from collaboration. Lower project costs, better timescales, increased value in relationships, and attitudes that can be carried forward to future projects all mean that collaborative working is now increasingly becoming not just the norm, but a requirement on large-scale projects.
Suppliers are only chosen if they can demonstrate and prove collaborative behaviour, and the so-called softer skills are seen as just as important as technical or practical ones. Where once ‘Collaboration’ was a ‘strategy’ - a word and a process that was heavily sniffed at - it is now becoming the only way to plan, execute and measure successful projects.
So why isn’t collaboration happening in the construction industry? A report by international law firm Pinsent Masons, Collaborative Construction 2: “Now or Never?” says:
“In many ways the Industry is its own worst enemy. On the one hand, it appears to be convinced of the need for change if it is to survive and prosper in the future. On the other hand, there is an inertia and deep-seated reluctance to change established methods of procurement, working practices and to embrace new technologies.”
Make no mistake – this change must come from the top of the industry. It must be supported by government, by professional bodies, by education and training organisations, by professional advisers and by funding bodies. Failure to take collaboration seriously and to start building it into existing projects now and into future projects from the very beginning is likely to result in more expensive collapses like Carillion and further delays and expense to the major infrastructure projects that are vital for the UK economy to grow.
The Institute of Civil Engineers has developed Project 13 to begin to address some of these issues. Backed by some of industry’s largest companies, Project 13 aims to introduce a new, value-drive approach that improves current operating models, drives better productivity and lifts the UK’s reputation for managing and delivering large infrastructure and utility projects.
The primary role for industry leaders in all this is to create the conditions for long term success – the success of individuals, of teams, of projects, and of vital infrastructure improvements. Here are some key steps which should guide every leader:
Increasingly many organisations are talking about collaboration and many are pointing to collaborative working as a way to meet objectives. This is to be welcomed but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Real collaboration isn’t achieved by saying we’ll work collaboratively or by listing some values. It takes hard work and constant nurturing, together with a shared sense of success, risk and reward and ultimately, a strong purpose to survive whatever is thrown at it. Situations like Carillion and the ripple effects remind us that the current way of doing things can’t go on. A different way has to be embraced before the next casualty impacts the industry again.Hear from Simon at NEC’s webinar
For More Information Contact:
JCP Press Office on: 01252 711025
JCP Website: http://www.jcpconsultancy.com
Notes to Editor:
JCP Consultancy Ltd was born out of John Carlisle Partnerships in 2002 with original board members and shareholders being: David Curtis, David Maxwell, Diarmid de Burgh Milne, Malcolm Newman and Simon Vaughan. Over the coming years both David Curtis and Malcolm retired from the business and in 2014 Diarmid left JCP to pursue new opportunities. For more information on the JCP board members and the company associates, click here.
JCP specialises in helping major clients, contractors and their supply chains realise the benefits of reduced cost, speedier delivery, increased profit and improved relationships from working collaboratively with each other. They have a 91% success rate in helping clients win work. The company has worked with leading names including Network Rail, National Grid, Highways Agency, Welsh Water, London Underground and Thames Water and with Central Government including DfT, BIS, and HMT Infrastructure UK.