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Design gear changes to rival the tech industry

Apr 01, 2023

Changes in how projects are conceived, developed and delivered could not only rival innovation seen in the tech industry, but lead the way for a more integrated transition to a net zero future. It must be geared towards smarter ways to reuse, reinvent, and reimagine buildings and infrastructure, with a more intelligent means to reduce resources, save time, and curb budgets - all whilst raising the quality of design. 

This may sound like pie in the sky, but it is achievable if we shift gears right now.

To achieve this transformation we need a brand new type of courageous leader. A leader who is driven by purpose, embraces diverse opinions and wants to bring people with them. Built environment leadership teams must be diverse, including people with a wide range of lived experiences, future outlooks, and skillsets. Teams should be empowered to ask the right questions, experiment with new approaches, and take calculated risks to drive innovation and change.

We need the private sector and public sector pulling together.

One of the biggest challenges facing our industry today is the lack of diversity in leadership. This has proven to limit innovation and will continue to hinder progress, as homogenous groups are less likely to consider alternative viewpoints and approaches.

We’ll get more of the same.

By investing in the development of a diverse talent pool, companies can create a pipeline of next-generation leaders with the energy, knowledge and skills to challenge the status quo to move us further, faster.

Of course, diversity is not just about race and gender, it is also about diversity of thought, experience, and background. Leaders must be willing to listen to diverse opinions and take these fresh perspectives into account when making impactful decisions. By embracing a variety of viewpoints, we can develop and give weight to more effective solutions that take into account the diverse needs of the populations we serve. 

We are after all designing for a broad range of stakeholders in diverse circumstances with even broader future briefs and scenarios of use, if we are serious about enabling retrofitting and repurposing for the long term. 

I’m not a fan of quotas or any form of forced diversity. Instead, I believe that if companies genuinely invest in developing talent they will become natural choices for leadership roles. 

Quotas can lead to complacency. Either in terms of letting leadership standards be compromised to meet targets. Or, not even pausing to acknowledge the incredible skills that already exists within your organisation and simply handing out titles without a mandate to also have a voice. 

Technology and data can play a major role in optimizing building design and construction processes. We are making progress with Building Information Modelling (BIM) software which can help architects, engineers, and contractors collaborate more effectively, reducing the risk of errors and delays. Similarly, the Internet of Things (IoT) can help buildings and infrastructure become more intelligent, efficient, and sustainable.

We need supremely effective leadership to harness this innovation.

Achieving net zero targets is imperative. Buildings and infrastructure account for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the industry is under significant pressure to reduce its environmental impact. By innovating faster and implementing sustainable practices now so that we can track and test what is working, we can ensure that the built environment is becoming part of the solution.

This will involve taking calculated risks and making difficult longer-term decisions that might fly in the face of logical, short-term decisions.

There is also rightly, a growing focus on circular economy principles in the construction industry. This means designing buildings and infrastructure with the end of their lifecycle in mind, and ensuring that materials can be reused, recycled, or repurposed. By adopting a circular economy approach from the outset, we can reduce waste, save resources, and create a far more responsible built environment.

Smart and incentivised collaboration is also essential for transforming the industry in similar ways to what we have witnessed the tech industry do. The built environment is notorious for its silos, with different design, client, stakeholder and delivery teams often working in isolation from each other. By breaking down these silos and promoting an integrated approach to designing, developing and delivering projects we can gain innovation momentum. Collaboration can take many forms, and it requires a commitment to open communication and shared goals.

Ultimately, the key to transforming the built environment is to create a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement by focusing on more diverse, courageous leadership. This will pave the way for embracing new technologies, experimenting with new approaches, and learning from failures and mistakes. It means being willing to take calculated risks, not bowing to short-term thinking, while also being accountable for the outcomes of those risks. By adopting this courageous approach, the built environment can rival the tech industry in terms of innovation and transformation.

If you want to discuss any aspect of leadership for yourself or your team then please reach out to me for a free no obligation call. I’m on a mission to inspire and support a new breed of courageous leaders to improve the impact you will have on the built environment. Our industry has some amazing opportunities and challenges ahead and we need leaders who can use their energy and talents more effortlessly.

I have written a book - BUILD SUCCESS - that is a visionary and pragmatic blueprint to support courageous leaders in pursuit of high-quality project outcomes. It's for leaders no longer willing to compromise themselves, their teams, or their projects. It's now available as an eBook for £5.50 with free confidence-boosting bonuses included! 

I invite you to book a call with me to see how I can help you or your team achieve next-level leadership confidence, clarity and ease. 

Enabling your success!




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