These are the words of Atkins’ new chairman Philip Hoare as published in Building Magazine1 last week.  Upon appointment to his ‘dream job’, after a career spent with the civil consultancy now owned by the troubled SNC Lavalin of Canada, he’s calling for change.  There seem to be three main messages here

  • Modernising our industry through use of digital technologies
  • Changing procurement models towards those more value based (rather than time and materials), and
  • Harnessing the transformative power of collaboration

Whilst I can whole heartedly agree on all points, it’s perhaps the last one that particularly resonates with me.  “People want to work together.  The desire for collaboration is there in people’s mindsets, I believe” says Philip, “We can’t continue as we are because the current models are broken.”  He rightly believes that the major barriers to collaboration are the constructs that sit around organisations and projects, rather than the people working within them.

There is still much talk and limited action on this front as the contractual and financial frameworks often work completely against any willingness to truly work together across a supply chain.  There’s simply too much at risk, and parties naively think that they have transferred that by passing it down the chain.  The stakes have become too high and our increasing resort to formal disputes, as evidenced by the recent Arcadis Report2 confirm this.

At Kingsfield, we have a strong belief in the direct correlation between collaboration and successful project outcomes.  We are using the recently developed Project Collaboration Toolkit3 to help our clients across the supply chain work in a more collaborative manner.  Case studies published by the ECITB have demonstrated the positive benefits on schedule, cost and team building, especially where use of collaboration has been initiated right from the top of the supply chain.

So, I support Mr Hoare’s call for action and hope that more organisations who have the ability to transform the industry listen.  “We have to find a way as an industry to let that willingness to collaborate really shine out.”

  1. Building Magazine 05.07.2019
  2. Arcadis Report Global Construction Disputes Report 2019
  3. ECITB Project Collaboration Toolkit www.ecitb.org.uk

Karen Cherrill – Director Kingsfield Consulting