Do we need another Contract Form?

As one lawyer said “if two lawyers are in the same room, you’re unlikely to get agreement”; so what happens when you have a room full of lawyer-folk!

NBS_UCCC

Let’s cut to chase, my conclusion from the NBS Bond Dickinson briefing “Understanding Construction Collaboration Contracts” is that the lawyers aren’t that impressed with current collaborative forms.

But if collaboration is called for, aren’t collaborative contracts essential?

Ever since Latham constructed the team and Egan rethought construction, built environment professionals have been urged to find a different way of working.  If clients are to have successful projects, improvement must be through COLLABORATION!  Ad infinitum the message is that adversarial ways don’t cut the mustard anymore; the latest including the Government’s new procurement routes with collaboration at the heart; and if BIM is to achieve it’s full potential, “the only way is collaborate“.

I attended the NBS Bond Dickinson briefing Understanding Construction Collaboration Contracts because I recognise that if construction needs to collaborate, then collaborative forms of contract must be adopted. [Review my storify]

The briefing reviewed 4 contracts; three I knew about and one whose arrival had recently passed me by!  The NEC3 is 20 years old; it’s been around a while and is being used.  The PPC2000 has it’s plaudits and is shown in a favourable light by the Government Trial Projects.  The JCT adopted the Be Collaborative form as its own and hence we have the JCT Constructing Excellence form.  The new kid on the block is the CPC2013 (Complex Project Contract) authored by the CIOB.

NBS_UCCCx4The audience were treated to candid and informative series of presentations from principally lawyer-folk. My impression is that the lawyers aren’t that impressed with these collaborative forms. From their legal perspective, they didn’t appear to recognise the management rationale and instead focused on the fact that if the projects go wrong, the contracts will not stand up in Law; afterall what is collaboration in the eyes of the court! Certainly for anyone who attended the event, if they recommend a collaborative form potentially they could be held negligent given that barristers advised to stay well clear of one of the forms!

So I see we have a bit of stand-off.  We need collaborative forms, but what client advisors are/will be advising clients to use the current bunch?  In my opinion this is a pressing issue, and one that will affect the adoption of the new procurement routes and the implementation of BIM …

…. or shall we just leave the lawyers to have a reasonable disagreement!

This is a link to my Storify of the event.

Random quotes

Progress:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Maxims for Revolutionists
Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/p/progress_quotes.html#m8X0owaHCU6d95d2.99

The 5th Be2Awards

Well done to @eepaul for superbly organising the 5th #Be2Awards on 25th September at the Building Centre.

Be2Awards
Firstly I must congratulate all the winners of the awards for a job well done; you deserve all recognition coming your way.
However, this blog is more about what this event meant to me. This is London Social Media week (23-27 Sept 2013) and the Be2Awards are all about acknowledging the contribution of social media in the built environment; what else does? Now I appreciate that there are people cynical of the influence of social media, however I would happily beg to differ.  Social media is having an increasing impact on the way I operate and I strongly believe it will have an increasing influence on the way everyone operates.  And this was the message the eclectic mix of speakers in their own way was endeavouring to convey.
Interspersed amongst the awards was a selection of speakers with an important point to make; collectively the speakers provided an powerful of the influence of social media:
  1. David Burden (Daden Ltd; @DavidBurden) highlighted the benefits of third digital model to support the design and construction models. The third user model is predicated on interaction with the ‘future’ users of the built asset to influence the built asset. Their interaction is via social media.
  2. Duncan Reed (Tekla; @djhreed67) emphasised that whether we realise it or not we already operating in a BIM world utilising social media.  Whilst the focus is on BIM authoring tools, most need the data from the models and we will utilise this data with social media tools (I’m using one now – wordpress).
  3. Andy Hudson-Smith (@digitalurban) demonstrated that privacy is dead; whilst the implications are only slowly being realised, the phenomenal power of technology needs to be embraced now; the future is already with us.
  4. Anne Parker (@AnneHydeParker) changed the emphasis and implored us to be mindful of the stress that our ever increasingly fast world causes us. We need to be careful of the influence of all the immediacy of information and take time to ensure we focus on what is important.
  5. Gordon O-Neill (Iota Media; @iota_gordon) stressed the ability to communicate effectively is predicated on our ability to convey a message and this is often most effectively done via a story-telling. Very apt for my job.
  6. Robert Klaschka (Studio Klaschka; @StudioKlaschka) emphatically demonstrated that the only way is to open source; history tells us the winners don’t operate closed systems – share to your heart’s content.
  7. Claire Thirlwall (Thirlwall Associates; @ThirlwallAssoc) brought along cakes; yum-yum! Claire’s message to cynics was to embrace social media as this is the future.  Using her own journey from cynic to convert, Claire presented a powerful example of how social media has enabled her SME business to thrive and grow. And the help is all available via social media.
The influence of this event, from a room in central London with approximately 30+ present, was to have apparently had in excess of 4 million and counting.  This is the power of social media and the interaction with individuals all around the globe.
Well done to all involved.

Consolidating for Growth

This is a personal reflection on a recent visit to Byrne Group’s Consolidation Centre. ImageI first came across the principle of a consolidation centre when I was working at BAA on Terminal 5. The consolidation centre was the solution to the problem of getting everything needed for construction and mobilisation on to the restricted T5 site.  Rather than every supplier face the gauntlet of the bottleneck at the entrance to the site, a centre was created nearby where all suppliers dropped of their consignments for consolidating into full loads.
The principles and benefits are well captured in the following articles:
The principle has been developed and separate logistic companies have endeavoured to replicate the operation in London and elsewhere.  I recently became aware that the Byrne Group had also adapted the principle for their purposes. It is promoted on on their website and has received recognition in the form of the “Best Practice in Management category at the Plant Services magazine 2010 Best Practice Awards”. Further information is available

  1. On Byrne Group website
  2. On COINS website
Why don’t more construction companies develop such an approach? This is more rhetorical question and probably a good dissertation topic for one of my students. What was clearly evident to me is that the Byrne Group fully appreciate where value is added in their value chain.  This has enabled them to focus on what is important in creating an efficient and effective operation. Rather than focus on developing their expertise in sub-contract management, their competence is based around effective operational management.
How many other construction companies can say that?

Review of Government Construction Summit

Image

Government Construction Summit

The summit for 2013 is over and the big news is we have:

  • a new strategy and
  • a new Leadership group

Part of my benefit of attending such events is that I’m able to keep up-to-date for my students, so I’m constantly thinking “what will I be telling my students”:

The key message I took from the plethora of keynote speeches was that there were no new statements and we, the industry, just need to get on and deliver – which we can with our new strategy digested and guided by our new board.

Piff the magic dragonThe summit attendees that stayed for the dinner were entertained by Piff the Magic Dragon.  Piff entered the stage with disinterest and focused on whinging about the cost of his tricks and gimmicks; 20 minutes later he left the stage to raptuous applause, having entertained the audience left wondering how did he do that?  It’s magic after all.

I’m left wondering whether the Summit is really just a magic show and whether like the magic tricks, will I ever understand what really just happened and that things will soon return to business as usual?

My principal reflection from the event is that whilst the excellent work being done and talked about in the Knowledge Hubs on BIM, procurement, GSL etc, the take up by industry is too slow.  If these hubs are talking common-sense, then why isn’t the industry adopting and changing?  I raised concerns following last year’s event and referred to Professor Stuart Green’s book Making Sense of Construction Improvement and the same concerns remain:

Is it possible to change the industry?
This is another blog post; as is a more detailed view on Construction 2025, although this article in Construction News is pretty good and is saying a similar message to me!

Preview of Government Construction Summit 2013

Construction Summit 13
The Government Construction Summit on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 is the second annual event focused on providing information that is shaping Government policies for construction; in other words the progress being made on the implementation of the Government Construction Strategy.
My views on last year’s Summit concluded that it didn’t quite hit the mark for me, mainly because the key issues of implementation needed to involve many of the people not in attendance for various reasons.  This year the price of attending has dropped and the format has changed.There is less emphasis on formal presentations and more time devoted to debate and time to explore the Knowledge Hubs. There are four knowledge hubs

  1. Digital Technologies – BIM and GSL
  2. Green Construction
  3. Procurement and new models of delivery
  4. Investment and Funding

You can find me in the Procurement and new models of delivery hub talking about Two Stage Open Book based on my role as Academic Partner on the SCMG (Supply Chain Management Group) Trial Project.

And it was announced late last week that Peter Hansford the Government’s Chief Construction Advisor will be launching the Industrial Strategy for Construction at the Summit.  As I understand it, whereas the Government Construction Strategy (written by Peter’s predecessor Paul Morrell) focused on Government, Peter’s strategy will focus on the broader strategy for construction and in particular set the vision for Construction 2025.

Pinterest in BIM – why the Govt mandated BIM and it’s subsequent implementation

This post is still work in progress as I endeavour to create my BIM Pinterest. As Government websites seem devoid of such images, I needed a site with the appropriate images hence I’ve created my own on my website.  So this should be read in conjunction with my new Pinterest.

Continue reading

Built environment education

Something isn’t working …

I’m relatively new to the world of academia (in the teaching sense that is) having been given the post of university lecturer in September 2010, so I’m finding my voice and slowly understanding the way things get done; and I’m coming to the conclusion things need to change.

Before I say more, I’ve been inspired to write by someone who I never met and who is, sadly, no longer with us. I’ve been inspired by the eulogy stating “there aren’t enough people who are prepared to challenge, consistently and persistently, in pursuit of a better built environment, a better world for future generations to enjoy“. I want to be one of those people.

My selective perception mode is currently picking up loads of vibes encouraging me to challenge the way we educate in the built environment. Below I will identify these vibes, but first I want to take you back a couple of years …

… and my first introduction into lecturing our future professionals of the built environment.

I was asked to lead a number of modules at levels 5 and 6 (this means years 2 and 3 for a full time undergraduate course). I was provided with some module aims and learning outcomes and told I had 36 hours of student contact time to fill, assignments to set that determined how well the students achieve the learning outcomes. Oh, I would also be marking those assignments.

Suffice to say, I have survived (I’m still there after all!) and more to the point I’m really enjoying my new found career.

Or is this the point; what is the purpose of my lecturing?

In my second year I started to appreciate that whilst I intrinsically wanted to be student-centred, I wasn’t. I’ve started to learn how to educate my students more effectively and I’ve started to understand how students learn, because I’ve been learning myself.

But something is not right:

  • Do we know if we provide graduates that employers want?
  • I teach the students what I think is important (based on learning outcomes obviously), set an assignment that I then mark!
  • I teach a piece of a jigsaw (the module), but have not really seen the whole picture! Do the students see the whole picture (which I original typed as hole picture; this might more apt!)
  • How do we integrate new things and ways of working into curricula? I’m challenging us to integrate BIM at the moment
  • Are we hamstrung by our accrediting bodies; we need our accrediting bodies as they provide an important validation (source of students), but we can’t adapt unless the accrediting bodies agree!

On top of my own experiences, I’ve learnt that:

  • Our students are the laziest in Europe1
  • The way we teach is outdated2
  • Children in the UK are some of the most pressurised, unhappy and commercially vulnerable in the world3

Having stated the negatives, I’m seeing a lot of positives too:

  • There is a significant amount of learning taking place in our approaches to education.
  • As with everything, education has not stood still over the past 60 years4
  • Enrichment helps students learn5,6,7 .

i.e. it can be different.

But relating this to the built environment, the vibes have come from:

  • Colleagues that recently visited Denmark and saw a different approach to educating built environment students.
  • The Building Futures Think Pieces, which was recommended to me by Sebastian Macmillian (one of the authors). I similarly would encourage everyone to read Sebastian’s view on education in built environment in 20 years.8
  • A debate held by Ryder Architecture that has created a blogsite: The Future of Built Environment Education & Practice9
  • Discussions with CIC Lifelong Learning director
  • And how are we going integrate BIM into our curriculum.
  • The debates in my own department about group work, the amount of assessment etc…

So I’m sensing a need for change and I’m sensing that I’m not alone.

I’ll write more on the specific drivers for change, but for now thanks for reading and feel free to add your comments.

Rob

Dedicated to the memory of Mel Starrs and a better world for future generations.

Notes

  1. Professor Graham Gibbs identified that students at UK universities studied (significantly) less than counterparts in European Universities Improving student learning through assessment and feedback in the new higher education landscape
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbzMTXRBcQk&feature=youtu.be
  2. Sir Ken Robinson Changing Education Paradigms “The gene pool of education still dictates way we educate is still largely based on the system created for the Industrial Revolution and switches our kids off to learning” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U
  3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9357146/British-children-unhappiest-in-the-world-say-academics.html
  4. http://www.kaizen-training.com/tips/celebrating-the-diamond-jubilee
  5. Ravens Wood School
  6. University of Westminster Learning and Teaching Symposium 5th July 2012
  7. My son participated in a fantastic end of year 6 production called The Keymaster based on travelling through time to important dates in history. I bet the kids didn’t even realise they were learning history, but could tell me now things about 1066 up to the Suffragettes ets
  8. The Future of Architectural Education http://www.buildingfutures.org.uk/think/year/2012
  9. http://2012bee.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/future-of-built-environment-education.html?spref=tw

How was the Government Construction Summit for you?

The Government’s Construction Summit has come and gone; what has it achieved?

I hammer home to my students the need to understand why they are attending my lectures; what is the opportunity cost of spending time in my classroom? And so I, naturally, challenged myself to do the same with the GCS2012. I intended to write a blog last week, but struggled to articulate the purpose of my attendance; and now, reflecting on the event, I’m equally challenged to articulate what I got from it.

The biggest benefit for me was the networking opportunity and connecting with individuals, face to face, that will assist with my principal aim of integrating BIM into the curricula of the University of Westminster’s School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE). So it was definitely worth attending, but I have a sense that my lack of clear purpose reflects that of the event itself; who was it aimed at and what was it really trying to achieve?

As someone who has read the Government Construction Strategy it is pleasing to hear such positive action by the implementing working parties; it was, therefore, appropriate that all the individuals that are contributing their time and effort are acknowledged and there is a forum for disseminating the progress. However I didn’t feel the summit summarised the progress as well as the article in the Building Supplement; Has the Construction Strategy been a success? I suppose I need to read the report One Year On published yesterday.

I’m personally encouraged by the work being done, but I hesitantly raise a couple of concerns:

  • Professor Stuart Green in his book Making Sense of Construction Improvement examines why ‘construction’ hasn’t achieved what has been advocated by Latham, Egan et al. Green explains that individuals jump on the bandwagon of the latest initiative and unless you are toeing the party line you are seen as an agitator and potential social pariah. Are we doing the same again?
  • Moreover, Green outlines the influences of the trends in outsourcing and subcontracting; it is understood that the supply chain (as it is now called) adds the real value, yet where were the SME’s?
  • Whilst Marks Prisk and Farrar identified themselves as preferring the carrot to the stick, it was noticeable that Ray O’Rourke, as a businessman, promoted his willingness to invest in what he perceives will make money, not whether he’s being offered a carrot or beaten with a stick.

Building organised a well produced event, whether we needed the fanfare is debatable, but there are more important issues to discuss than this. Was it a commercial success? Did it need to be? Normally after such events, I have a buzz that energises me for the next few days; I don’t feel that buzz and that concerns me. So what did the event achieve? If it was update on progress of the Construction Strategy, I’d suggest my time would probably have been better spent just reading the One Year On report!

My concluding thoughts echo the discussion with others, that whilst the Construction Strategy outlines ‘what the industry needs to do’ and the working parties are identifying ‘how we should implement the strategy’, the ‘why’ has to be more than just cost reduction. And now I fear being cast a social pariah!

Thank you for reading.
Rob

Reasons to be cheerful … Nr One

It’s hard to avoid the ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ slogans, but as I heard some very encouraging noises emanating from the Government Strategy Implementation Procurement Working Group, my instinct was ‘keep calm …everything will carry on as normal!’

Nick Pollard is Chair of the Cabinet Office Efficiency & Reform Task Group and was presenting at CIRIA’s Transforming the construction sector – what does lean offer?

Nick was keeping calm; indeed the opening gambit was ‘evolution not revolution‘… However I feel I want to SHOUT about it; this really does give reason to be cheerful.

Read the next bit carefully, it’s fundamental to what a significant change is on the horizon …

It would appear that there is some very productive work going on inside Whitehall. Work that is being done by a select group of individuals that understand construction and that have learnt from the past. Now I don’t want to get too carried away with hyperbole, but I was really buzzing with much of what Nick presented. Not least the statement, and it’s only a statement in a presentation, that the working groups have “understood what drives the adversarial behaviours” in construction to develop appropriate solutions.

Nick outlined three new models of procurement that are being trialled

  1. Cost-led
  2. Integrated project insurance
  3. Two-stage open book

These models are supported by three forms of contract NEC Option C; PPC 2000 and JCT Constructing Excellence .
As well as supporting principles such as:

  • ‘thou shalt not amend the Standard Forms’
  • No retention / LAD’s etc
  • Client leadership
  • Effective supply chain management

This particular blog is not the place to provide in depth analysis on these models; however the Initiative Update issued on 29th November 2011 provides some insight to the progress made as well as the Interim Report issued in January 2012.  The final report to be issued later this year.

My only questions are

  • why haven’t heard more about this already?
  • And when will the rest of the industry hear about it?