The 7 samurais of construction

Written by LetsBuild

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Many people associate construction only with building roads or houses. However, we tend to forget that the building sector is also about building history and shaping the world around us. We spend 95% of our lives within construction. We live, work and love while we are surrounded by the past and present of the industry.  But now it’s about time that we focus on the future.

And the future of the building industry can be much brighter if we simply put our faith in the ‘7 Samurais of Construction’. In other words, the 7 crucial changes that can reshape construction of tomorrow and cut deeply into the way we currently work:

You can see that digitization is, of course, at the top of the list. Everything that can be digitized, will be digitized. Simple as that! This will contribute significantly towards a more effective data management process, as well.

At the same time, Clients/Owners will eventually take more control over their projects and the value chain will change radically. Under these new circumstances, investments are expected to increase a lot while local construction will lose ground to global construction. A new type of worker will also become part of the game as we will experience the transition from construction to knowledge workers.

With all these changes on the way, at this point, it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the current state of the construction industry.

The construction nation in numbers

During the recent CN Summit, that took place in London, there was a lot of discussion around the need for an imminent change in the industry. We are at the moment on the verge of a positive change. Nonetheless, this is still a very fragile situation. As Mark Farmer mentioned during the Summit:

“We are still in serious risk of sliding back to the current state of the industry. This is NOT where we want to stay”.

Just to refresh your memory, the construction industry is a $10 trillion giant that is battling against excessive re-work rates (7%-15%) and enormous budget overruns (80%). To make matters worse, it’s the least digitized industry (IT spend <1%) and its efficiency rates don’t exceed 30%, according to McKinsey & Company.

It’s clear, then, that construction is a huge sector with no IT investing and numerous problems. During the “Grenfell Aftermath” panel discussion that I attended in CN Summit 2017, I expressed the opinion that Clients and Owners have to step up and start playing a more integral role in terms of Responsibility and Ownership.

Read also: Millennials can be the catalyst for change in construction if you let them

Furthermore, TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY should be our first priorities during the project life cycle. In that way, we can be sure that we have followed the right path either we are talking for drafting a contract or collaborating with other project agents in real-time.

construction site

As you can imagine, this imminent need for change in the construction industry raised a lot of interesting questions during the CN Summit. Below, you can find the most asked questions followed by my answer to them:

Will construction become more TRANSPARENT?

YES – it’s the only way forward. The construction industry has no choice but to invest in transparency. Digitization is around the corner and it is no exaggeration when we say that soon everything that can be done digitally will be done digitally. The advent of digital tools in combination with the demand for higher productivity rates will eventually lead to a strong demand for transparency. If you can find one industry that this hasn’t come true, I’m open to reconsidering my opinion.

Will we become ACCOUNTABLE?

YES – no doubt about it! The building industry has all the necessary digital tools to do it for more than 10 years now. The Clients/Owners should have already demanded to continuously keep close track of every single action that took place in the course of the project. Their lack of effort to do so could almost be characterized as a negligent approach towards their project.
construction site
“Outsourcing” the risk to Advisers and Contractors is a dangerous illusion that Clients need to leave behind. No matter what, the risk will always return to those who support a project financially. And there are many ways for this to happen. Fines, bankruptcy and costly lawsuits are only a few from the potential consequences. To put simply, either we are talking for painful delays or compromised quality there will be significant collateral damage that will reflect back to the Clients.

Will we all manage to increase our profits?

YES – if you act smart. Invest in optimizing the way you communicate and you will soon reap the benefits of an improved and more open collaboration process. At the end of the day, everything comes down to the same thing: you have to push hard for transparency and accountability.

Read also: Do you know construction’s dirty secret?

And you have to do it on time. If you insist on a timeworn and problematic process, you will put your company in great danger. Examples such as KODAK (digital needs at least 10-20 years before it will become a thing) and BlockBuster (streaming doesn’t stand a chance) are very enlightening.

Will we build better?

MAYBE, BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT. In my opinion, I think that the construction industry is already delivering buildings of good quality around the globe. But that’s, of course, after things calm down and people move to the next project.

modern construction of tomorrow

Will we feel safer?

YES! That’s very important for an industry that is constantly battling against extremely high rates of fatal accidents. There are more victims in construction on a yearly basis than in all armed conflicts in the world. On top of that, Offshore construction and repair have a lower amount of accidents in comparison to Onshore building. This fact emphatically proves that we have already the knowledge and the tools we need in order to make our industry a safer place to work. All we need to do is to actually use them!

Will we regain our pride?

YES, and YES AGAIN! I keep hearing the construction industry is synonymous to inefficiency, excessive amounts of waste and lack of digitization. I’m tired of hearing that our industry can’t change and that we just have to accept that it’s a traditional and manual sector. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way!

In LetsBuild we believe that we can change how construction works. We believe in a transparent future for the industry based on an efficient and data driven decision making process.

All in all, it is evident that the construction industry is on a very crucial path. A more efficient and digitized future is closer than we think. That’s why every construction firm and every country has to actively support this big upcoming change. Only then, we will be able to make construction a transparent and accountable industry!