On the 11th November, at the iconic Lords Cricket Ground, Constructing Excellence hosted their annual conference, titled ‘Beyond the Built Environment’. Various National members, regional centres, clubs, and members of the Generation for Change (G4C) network were in attendance, including Invennt’s Tim Fitch, Brendan Morahan, and myself in my role as co-Chair of G4C.
Throughout the day, we were treated to a number of excellent presentations focused on key topics within our sector, including supply chain integration, an industries image and brand reputation, social value, and open data. However, slightly out the norm and as the title would suggest – those addressing these topics were leading practitioners in other sectors of the UK economy, such as Rolls-Royce and Saatchi & Saatchi. The audience was captivated, and it was intriguing to explore how our industry can learn from their leading practices, and use this knowledge to benefit the industry as a whole.
A point that became clearer as the day went on was that there was plenty they could learn from our industry as well.
Murray Rowden, Chairman of Constructing Excellence was first to the podium to introduce the day and provide an overview of Constructing Excellences vision and mission for our industry. Constructing Excellence, for those who are unaware, is a platform for industry improvement to deliver excellence for clients, industry, and users with collaborative working at its heart. All things we believe passionately in at Invennt and all things we continually deliver to our clients.
The first speaker for the event was Simon Troup, Head of Data Services at Open Sensors. After obtaining a PhD in Structural Engineering, and then spending 15 years building data science infrastructure for banks and hedge funds, Simon joined Open Sensors, where they aim to build a connected world. His talk brought the principles of open data to the fore and considered how we could improve productivity through the use of data. He explained that combining open data with the internet of things can unlock a new realm of possibilities when it comes to smart cities and smarter healthier buildings.
Dr Julia Glidden, President and founder of 21c consultancy, was the next to give a presentation, titled ‘Improving innovation through open data’.
As an internationally recognised expert on Digital Government and an expert advisor to the United Nations It was of no surprise that she had the audience spell bound – she’s an accomplished TedX speaker after all!
She described open data as an innovation tool, and gave examples of the ways it has been used to solve complex problems, and also increase transparency. She touched upon the number of ways that open data can provide us with healthier buildings, happier schools, and most importantly, happier communities.
Following Julia was Taieb Ben Sghaier of Rolls-Royce. The 15 year design cycle for a new product was described in detail.
The required supply chain partners who will supply key components are identified at the earliest possible stage, they then co-invest, and if necessary Rolls Royce will allow them to use their credit rating if necessary to raise funds that supports innovation, research and development with the ultimate aim of maximising value and creating the best possible product and service.
His talk demonstrated the levels of collaboration and integration that the construction industry should be striving to adopt.
Our afternoon began with Tim McLoughlin, head of social media at Saatchi & Saatchi who gave a presentation on ‘making an industry attractive’.
Timgave some examples both good and bad covering Skoda, British Gas and KLM (I’ll let you guess the bad one!) advocating a need to communicate in the language of the audience he had five key steps process to share:
- Humanity – Speak like a person.
- Honesty – Confront myths or issues directly.
- Partnership – Get other people to tell your story.
- Mirror – Behave like your target audience.
- Target – Be in the same place as your target audience.
Founding Director of Trading for Good, Kay Allen OBE, followed from Tim along similar lines. Her talk focused on ‘shouting about social value’. She explained how a company paying attention to its social value, and promoting their values and work, can expect to see improved business performance – this will be due to the positive reputation your work and values will garner, improved staff and customer satisfaction, and much more. The importance of these will only become more prevalent in future if and when the social value act is expanded.
Kay provided us with a list of five priorities for successful businesses:
- Make life better for employees.
- Work better with your suppliers.
- Improve your impact upon the environment.
- Help young people into work.
- Support charities and communities.
Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, CEO of Crossrail, was given the task of demonstrating that none of these concepts are foreign to the construction industry, and he did an excellent job of doing that! He spoke with great passion and verve around the work being done at Crossrail – he referred the audience to Crossrail’s innovation academy, television profile, and impressive gender balance. With a focus on data, innovation, communication and value its no wonder that the project is such a success.
Summarising and concluding the day’s event was Antonio Pisano, my co-Chair of G4C. He showed a series of one-word slides of key words to take home from the day: Change, World, Open, Digital, Collaboration, Construction, and Excellence. A rousing overview full of passion that was described by one attendee as a preacher attending his flock showing them the way forward. We all hopped and decided that this was a positive bit of feedback!
I’ve had the pleasure (and the pain!) along with Antonio and the rest of the G4C board in organising this years event, and it was a great feeling at the end of the day to hear so much positive feedback. Clearly we’d done something right!
The days topics have all been covered in some form by previous blogs I and others at Invennt have written over the last 6 months, this isn’t a coincidence, it demonstrates the commitment we at Invennt have to adopting best practice, being at the fore of all that is good in the industry and setting the bar for excellence. We can help you exceed expectations and become leading organisations in the industry. We will work with you and your business to create maximum value and increase business value through effective construction.
Get in touch if you would like to share in our mission to create value through construction.