Value-based decision-making is the lynchpin of a transformed construction sector, says Keith Waller, programme director of the Construction Innovation Hub
Even if Covid-19 had not befallen us, the announcement of the Construction Innovation Hub’s Value Toolkit would undoubtedly have been hailed as a key milestone in our four-year transformative programme. The economic fallout of Covid, however, has given this crucial piece of work even greater importance.
As the country moved into lockdown and building sites fell silent in the earlier part of this year, we at the Hub began to quickly accelerate key elements of our programme in support of the massive effort to rebuild our sector, which inevitably would have to follow. Key among these was our Value Toolkit, a collaborative initiative intended to help policymakers and clients make faster, informed decisions that incentivise industry to respond with innovative, high value solutions.
Why value, why now?
As we get Britain building again, there will be a natural temptation to go back to the familiar, outdated practices rooted in cost minimisation and risk transfer. We have, as a sector, an historic affinity with cheapness. We tend to see value through the prism of pounds and pence rather than in the much broader sense. This was not sustainable before the Covid-19 crisis and it is far less so today.
With the CLC Roadmap to Recovery and the package of measures recently announced by the Prime Minister and Chancellor, we are about to embark on the largest sector recovery effort construction has perhaps ever known. But as we work together to jump-start the engine of this crucially important sector of the British economy, we have a unique opportunity to veer off the route we were on before the crisis and instead move in an entirely new direction. Our destination must be a future where a common understanding of value and value-based decision making is delivering better long-term outcomes.
Working together to build a better future
We recognise, of course, that this isn’t something that can happen overnight and that’s why we have collaborated closely with key industry and government players to develop the Toolkit. If we want to see the real and lasting impact, we need buy-in from policymakers, clients and industry at large. We are very fortunate to have strong support from some of construction’s leading voices like ACE, CE, CECA, CLC as well as organisations like RICS, RIBA, CIOB and Social Value UK, who are helping us to develop a new industry-wide definition of value, a keystone of this crucial project.
The response we’ve had so far has been deeply encouraging. When we launched the Toolkit at a webinar attended by over 400 representatives from across industry and government, I was deeply heartened to see not just the appetite to move in this new direction, but also by the sense of urgency. Some 81% of our attendees believed that cost is the main factor when making decisions through the lifecycle, while an overwhelming 96% agreed that a value-driven approach would enhance innovation in the sector.
Construction’s fixation with cheapness runs deep and it won’t disappear in one fell swoop. However, with momentum building for substantial change and now a Toolkit to enable that change, I believe that we are closer than ever to making a permanent shift to embed a lasting shift towards value-based decisions that drive better social, economic and environmental outcomes.
LinkedIn: Construction Innovation Hub