This is one of the sadder mornings I can remember. In the land of my birth. The National Guard has been called out in 21 US States to deal with disturbances in as many as 140 cities. Across Africa, The Middle East and Indian subcontinent locust swarms are devastating the crops upon which hundreds of millions rely. The Coronavirus wreaks havoc amongst our elderly and key workers across Europe and much of the world.

Tens of millions have lost their jobs. Unable to pay their mortgages or rent, they are becoming increasingly reliant on food banks. Governments have devalued currencies globally in a “race to the bottom” by printing money leaving few tools with which to stave off the next economic crisis. Even a perpetual optimist like me is finding it difficult to see anything positive coming out of this.

Reasons for Optimism?

Despite all of these reasons for gloom, there is a path for those of us in the construction and project controls space.

Remember, we are builders. We create value. We are the ones that help balance available capital against the universe of projects that could be executed. We help others to envisage what could be possible with planning, focus, discipline, collaboration and leadership. We are the guardians of the budget. We track the planned against the “as-built” for both time and cost mindful of scope while still being fixated on safety. We produce the documentation to handover valuable new assets we led the creation of. We help clean up disputes despite the causes. And when the project is finished we look back in pride and wonder and we tell our kids, “I built that”. It’s that pride from a job well done that is at the end of this path through today’s cruel world.

Times of economic downturn and social unrest are generally boom times for infrastructure. Consider the Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building, Mount Rushmore, The Tennessee Valley Authority and Hoover dams. All these projects and most of America’s National Parks were all built during the Great Depression. Can we do the same now globally?

Reduce Costs, Improve Profits

Cost reduction and increasing profitability are I suggest the biggest challenge facing the industry at this time. We are all aware of how unforeseen circumstances have managed to blow out major projects with the occasional existential threat to some of our largest organisations. On the flip side though there are so many successes to celebrate such as the A14 bypass between Huntington and Cambridge which opened eight months early.

My message is that we should seek out these successes in order to learn from them. Rather than sticking with established tools and practices, be curious about what has worked for others. Keep an open mind as to whether you could benefit from adopting something new. If we can keep learning and keep focused there is a path out of this morass. The answer is to build our way out just as we did back in the 1930s.

And why not join us for Glimpse of the Future to find out more about how construction tech is shaping the future.