The 5th Be2Awards

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

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.

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!

New to blogging? May the 4th be with you…

Where to start?

You know the scenario, you’re busy and you’ve got many things to do.  You need to start somewhere, but there’s so much background noise you can’t hear yourself think. It reminds me of the image from the Matrix, the one with all those numbers…how do you decipher what it all means?  You have your work commitments and priorities, your home and social life to live; so where do you find the time, the inclination to start writing a blog?


Where to start? How to start? Should you dip your toe in the water or dive straight in?  Have I really got something to say that anyone will want to read?  So many questions and so many much advice to help, but what’s right?

I like the one line adages and one comes to mind as I write this


No-one is forcing me to do write anything, but if anything is going to be written, then it’s up to me. And so I’ve begun.

And what exactly have I started?  Well in my mind I’ve started on a journey. And as with any journey, it’s advisable to know where you are going, otherwise you could end up meandering all over the place and end up anywhere! You’ll pleased to know that I do have a clear idea of my destination, although the plan is still being mapped out. 

So where am I heading? 

Well I’m not going to tell you just yet, suffice to say it is in part why I’m blogging. I want to record my journey and the challenges I face along the way. 

The key focus of my journey is sustainability in the context of the construction industry and academia.  Ray Anderson is the author of the radical industrialist and he writes about the need to influence one mind at a time.  Well I know he’ll be pleased he’s influenced me and in my next entry I’ll write about this influence.

So on Star Wars day, May the Fourth be with you …

Thanks for reading