The construction industry is understaffed, underfunded, highly competitive, fraught with stress, unpredictable, and highly volatile. These are our working conditions and they are harsh. Considering what we have to work with, we are doing pretty great. Life gives us lemons and we make delicious lemonade! But are we giving our clients what they want? Did they order lemonade?
Olympic swimmer Chris Cook and his team were bogged down in strategic tweaks and minutiae - their purpose was unclear. Their focus was at their feet, on what could be improved today without knowing whether or not it would breed the desired results tomorrow. With 'two lengths of the pool' as their mantra, they became laser-focused on a simple mission. In the construction industry, what is our equivalent to the "two lengths," and what are we doing about it?
I often read articles with titles such as "why is the construction industry inefficient" or "why are productivity levels so low?" These are great questions, but they're the wrong questions, and asking them has us looking in the wrong places for ways to improve. Rather than efficient, we must aim to be effective, even if it costs us efficiency. Here is why...
I believe construction work doesn’t need to be this stressful. Where the vast majority gasp for air under a mountain of overwork and overwhelm on our late and overbudget projects. I believe the construction industry of tomorrow will be without the mental health issues and ineffective work we suffer today.
Symptom 6 – Incompetence/ Ineffectiveness Program delays, blown budgets, nonconformance reports, and health & safety incidents. Every project has them, some worse than others, but every project has them. They've come to be expected. If a project does not report them, rather than assume the project is performing, people assume a fault in the reporting … Continue reading What is Wrong with the Construction Industry? Part 6, Symptom 6
Symptom 5 – Poor Focus & FireFighting Our focus is too nearsighted, and we lose clarity of what matters and what does not. To make progress, we must focus on things that matter and chip away at the immense workload atop us, but we often don't. To our detriment, we chose to focus on lesser … Continue reading What is Wrong with the Construction Industry? Part 5, Symptom 5
Symptom 4 – Stress Construction is one of the most at-risk industries for suicide Despite Symptom 1 - Insufficient Human Resource, buildings go up, and the industry trudges on because the responsible individuals are making a sacrifice. They sacrifice their personal lives to try to make their professional lives tolerable. They give up their mental … Continue reading What is Wrong with the Construction Industry? Part 4, Symptom 4
Symptom 3 – Life Imbalance Having balance in your life means distributing your resources (such as passion, time, and energy) fairly across all the things that matter Those who work in the construction industry widely accept that, to enjoy a highly fruitful career in this industry, you must sacrifice a great deal of your personal … Continue reading What is Wrong with the Construction Industry? Part 3, Symptom 3
Symptom 2 - Overwork [Construction workers] will take what sleep they can, where ever they can be it on the morning train or in a dark corner of a construction site. Demand > Supply = Overwork The industry is booming! Everywhere you look, you see new development; I can see twenty-one cranes in my view … Continue reading What is Wrong with the Construction Industry? Part 2, Symptom 2
Symptom 1 - Insufficient Human Resource Having to do too much? The UK and US construction industries suffer a deficit of human resources required to meet its demand, leaves an overbearing, unreasonable workload for those punching in each day. This deficit is often referred to as the "skills gap." Why is there Insufficient Human Resource? … Continue reading What is Wrong with the Construction Industry? Part 1, Symptom 1