Has the Government Construction Strategy Delivered?


This gallery contains 4 photos.

“Has the Government Construction Strategy Delivered?” was the question  addressed in my talk to the monthly meeting of the London Construction Excellence Club in May 2015. The Government Construction Strategy (GCS) was published in May 2011 setting objectives to be … Continue reading

Ingredients for Success


I love my sport and I love seeing sports people achieve their best and see what it means to them. I can get quite patriotic and emotionally when winners win.

Seeing Lizzy Yarnold lead from start to finish in the Skeleton at #Sochi14 was one of those moments.

What struck me most was her humility about how her success was achieved. However, her success in view can be summed because:
1) she had a dream – from the age of 11, she wanted to win a gold medal
2) she has passion – it’s so obvious how much she loves skeleton and being a sportsperson
3) she worked hard – she followed Amy Williams’ approach and loves training and is prepared to continuously work at being the best she can
4) she has some awesome support – from all those around her, including Merv.

Whilst Lizzy achieved success on the ice, I’d suggest these are the ingredients for anyone to succeed in whatever field they choose to excel.

So what’s your dream?  What are you passion about? Are you prepared to work hard and have you got the right support mechanisms?

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?

The Curse of the West Ham Front Cover

West Ham LogoIt’s with a great sense of pride that I can say that my ten year-old son is now a West Ham fan through and through.  He’s becoming obsessed or should I say he is obsessed.  Due to his increased enthusiasm for the game, it was only right that we should become season tickets holders together and each game we buy the Match Day programme.

Whilst he will not read books, he happily reads Match / Match of The Day magazines and his prized Match Day programmes.  He knows more than I do now and constantly surprises me with the facts he comes out with.  So you can picture the scene, it’s past his bedtime, he’s supposed to be asleep and there this call,

“Dad, you’ve got to come and look at this”.

The Champions League matches were not holding my attention too much, so with a little reluctance I went up the stairs to see what the fuss was about.  Before I could say ‘you should be asleep’, my son probably anticipating such an approach, pre-empted me by asking the question:

“Didn’t Winston get injured in the first five minutes of the game against Bristol City?”

Suddenly any frustration goes as I’m intrigued by the question and then stunned by the follow-up that comes before I can respond:

“And didn’t Carew get taken off before half-time against Leicester?”

And so we look at all the Match Day programmes and discover the “Curse of the Match Day Cover”.

With the exception of Big Sam for the game against Cardiff and Capt Kev (in a joint cover picture) for the Blackpool game, every player that appears on the cover has been injured in the game or shortly after (as the table below shows).

The question is which player is on the cover for the Derby game and will the curse strike again?

Match day

Opponents Front Cover image Injury


Cardiff Big Sam None


Leeds Joey O’Brien Hamstring


Aldershot James Tomkins Groin injury on International duty


Portsmouth David Bentley Injured knee


Peterborough Henri Lansbury Knee Injury at Southampton


Ipswich Mark Noble Dislocated thumb


Blackpool Capt Kev and Carlton Injured


Leicester John Carew Taken off after 25 mins


Bristol City Winston Shoulder injury after 5 mins

Social Media Novice

I am a social media novice.

I’m slowly being drawn in as the excitement and realization of its potential grows; just like my Klout score is rising.
(Don’t quite understand Peer Index yet, but I’m sure I will do shortly. As for Empire Avenue – do I want to go there yet?).

I’m sure for all you SM gurus out there, it’s a distant memory familiarizing yourself with the intricacies of twitter and blogging and its all now part of your daily routine. But …

  • where do you start?
  • what do you do?
  • how do you discipline yourself?
  • and how do you decide what’s important and what’s not?
  • what does #ff mean?
  • And just what is sofalising?

Admittedly, it hasn’t take too long to understand tweeting, however for the anyone new to twitter I’d recommend Jon Reed’s Twitter Cheat Sheet; it’s great for fundamentals.
I would also recommend Peter Masters there is plenty of good advice here and follow on @marketingm8 to where Peter practices what he preaches.  You’ll learn a lot; I’m just about to buffer my tweets

However for me it’s been a fascinating month

  • observing
  • procrastinating
  • reading
  • learning
  • connecting … and
  • even more procrastinating

The brilliant Paul Weston at Essex Social Media got me started; I’d recommend speaking to Paul if you want some advice. He gave me some clear direction and blogging is all part of his advice. He made sure I knew what I wanted from social media and I’ll share my principal aim with you now. I want to learn how I can use social media as part of my role as lecturer on the Construction Studies courses at the University of Westminster. The benefits are already clear and I’m really looking forward to using it to good effect next year.

I have already made some really good connections – thanks everyone – and I encourage you to follow me as I endeavour to do more than my bit* educating future professionals on a sustainable construction industry.

Looking forward to more learning, connecting and sofalising but less procrastinating …

Thanks for reading

*Do more than my bit; my next blog on moving towards a sustainable world

Never waste a good crisis

Value, not price

This is my second blog. The first was written less than 24 hours ago and read by two people: my wife and my SM adviser who suggested I write a blog in the first place. The idea was to write one and see how I get on and develop some plan for the next few blogs.  All very sensible stuff, so how come I’m writing again so soon? 

Well the power of social media came into play for me yesterday. Paul Weston keeps telling me “you’ve got to connect to the right people, you should join Be2camp“.  He tweeted me again yesterday to ask if was going to the Be2camp event that night and here I am blogging about it. 

The star attraction was Don Ward, CEO of Constructing Excellence who presented on his organisation’s report ‘Never Waste a Good Crisis’, published in Oct’09. 

 It’s a concise document that in part reports on the progress ten years after the Egan Report, ‘Rethinking Construction‘.  It looks at the evidence so far and highlights the blockers to further progress.  Don talked about some of these issues and focused on a couple, namely value not price and sustainability.

The value not price issue generated a lively Q&A session not least because we all understand the arguments for value, but the industry’s marketplace is based on lowest price.  And even more so in the current econmic climate with the issue of sub-economic/suicidal bidding.  This business and economic model adopted by the industry is one of the 4 blockers described in the report, but it is unclear how we change?  See Building Magazine’s Comment on the report for a different (more insightful) perspective.

Don was very clear that we need to work together, to adopt collaborative ways of working that are based on an economic model whereby a target cost is set for the project and the team focus, amongst other things on reducing the waste / unnecessary cost.  It’s evident to me that there is no transparency over what this ‘waste / unnecessary cost’ is and if you can’t see it, it makes it very difficult to start reducing it.  But this is for another blog!

The Q&A debate queried how the industry can make these savings and reductions and I refer to the example of the reduction of dead space within a ceiling void.  I was referring to Brydon Wood who have used BIM to make significant savings. One such saving resulted from the redesign of the ceiling void for a 3-storey hospital to integrate the services more effectively and minimise the dead-space. The net result is a reduction per floor of approxiately 500mm, meaning a saving overall of 1.5m. You can quickly see how this can demonstrate a savings of cost and carbon alike in the reduction of structure, cladding and all components that are affected by the height of the building. 
NOTE: Be2Camp Events – Brydon Wood presenting at CIRIA on 12 May 2011.

Don referred to the importance of the construction industry and that if you spend on £1 in the industry this generates £2.84 GDP – see Building’s Charter284 for a better explanation.


Another key aspect of Don’s presentation was on the environment and sustainability.  He referred to the report written by Paul Morrell on how the industry can deliver Low Cabon Construction.  And for me this is where the Q&A session generated a fascinating debate and indicates I’ve still much to learn about sustainability – which is what I was alluding to in my first blog!  As a little aside, getting into this blogging malarky, I had drafted my second blog on the train going into London last night, but that will have to wait and become the third blog – maybe tomorrow!

Can we achieve sustainability with the current business model?

Possibly, but unlikely. And as with the debate on value, the argument has to be broadened beyond an economic focus.  Everything I’ve read about sustainability focuses on the need to consider the triple bottom line of economics, but also social and environment.  The ever increasing cost of fuel – (by the way Mr Osborne, thanks for reducing the tax on my diesel by a penny, it’s only gone up 7p since the budget and seems to go up a penny a week!) Sorry focus, the ever increasing cost of fuel will force this issue, but when? 

SM adviser advice: Be concise, keep your blogs brief and to the point, so I’ve probably written too much! so for now thanks for reading and let’s see what happens in the future!