One of the UK construction industry organisations I value most is Constructing Excellence, as it seeks to maintain the ideals highlighted in Sir Michael Latham’s seminal 1994 report Constructing the Team and by Sir John Egan in 1998’s Rethinking Construction and 2002’s Accelerating Change. In the mid-1990s, I worked for Tarmac Professional Services (now part of Carillion) and for two years my line manager was Shonagh Hay, a member of the Reading Construction Forum partnering task force that produced its partnering guide Trusting the Team in 1995. Almost ever since I have been involved with the construction improvement movement.
As a freeelance, I wrote case studies for the Construction Best Practice and the IT Construction Best Practice Programmes in the late 1990s, and while working at BIW I got involved in M4I (Movement for Innovation) and the Design Build Foundation. Along with the Reading Construction Forum and various other initiatives, these have all since been merged into what is today Constructing Excellence, and in the face of the current recession I feel that its efforts to promote integrated collaborative working are even more vital.
The Collaborative Working Champions’ Recession Survival Guide
As part of my input to Constructing Excellence’s work, I have nurtured a new online network created for its Collaborative Working Champions group (of which I’ve a been a member for some years). Built on the Ning platform, it was initially set up to help manage communications among the group, but we soon decided that it had the potential to expand awareness and discussion about industry issues way beyond the founder members – so it has this week become an online network that is free to anyone to join (the step also followed a realisation that the recession was making face-to-face meetings problematic for some members).
As a sign of the kinds of projects the network aims to develop, the Champions group is just putting the finishing touches to a Recession Survival Guide. This argues the case for collaborative working as a strategy for surviving the current downturn and positioning businesses to hit the ground running when the upturn finally comes (you can view some of the online discussion).
Generation for Collaboration (G4C)
I wrote about G4C in February, and over the past few weeks I have been working with some of the G4C board members to help them revamp their communications. Again built on Ning, G4Cnet is a free-to-join online community for students, graduates and early career professionals in the architecture, engineering, construction and property sectors (its umbrella group also covers project managers, construction lawyers, property developers and facilities managers) to network – both online and face-to-face – to discuss industry news and issues, to form special interest groups, to learn about forthcoming events, and to share news, ideas and insights.
With the current recession hitting businesses’ recruitment and employment policies hard, the G4C board believes it can play a role in helping young professionals to network and keep abreast of new developments and opportunities. Partly by using social media (G4C also has a Facebook page), the G4C board is aiming to gather and reflect back the views and opinions of Generation Y so that industry newcomers don’t become unheard or forgotten casualties of the current downturn.