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May 15 2008

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Downsizing at Constructing Excellence?

I have just received a members e-bulletin from UK construction membership organisation Constructing Excellence that has set alarm bells ringing. Headed “Constructing Excellence announces restructuring“, it says:

Constructing Excellence has announced an organisational restructure to enable a sharper focus on its core business of delivering value to its membership.

Over the last two years, Constructing Excellence has moved from its original Government grant funding to the leading industry membership body devoted to industry improvement. Throughout this transition period it has also won commercially-funded work and other government commissions. Following a review of the mission and objectives of the organisation, the Board of Constructing Excellence agreed that a clearer focus on membership was needed and that the emphasis of future work must be on our core business of performance measurement and knowledge sharing.

Chairman Bob White said: “At CE, we are committed to improving industry performance through working with our members who come from the entire built environment supply chain including clients. We have become increasingly aware during our transition period that performance measurement and demonstration is the vital ingredient to further industry improvement. However, it would be fair to say that, in our transition from government grant funding, some of the diversification into commercial areas such as ad hoc commissions or consultancy has proved an obstacle to focusing on our core mission.”

Don Ward, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence, added: “The starting point for our members is a conviction that integration and collaborative working is the foundation for industry change. Measurement and demonstration are how we best add value in this regard, and the restructure will enable us to deliver these better.”

Having worked in several AEC organisations over the years that have “restructured”, I think this means Constructing Excellence is going to be shedding staff (in my experience, such external announcements normally follow internal announcements, lots of one-to-one meetings between managers and staff, and shocked staff gatherings in nearby pubs after work). There is no mention of downsizing or redundancies, but I suspect people that staff who aren’t involved with the core “performance measurement and demonstration” activities will shortly be looking for new posts – if they aren’t already!

BIW Technologies has been a CE member since Design Build Foundation days and I am involved with several Constructing Excellence activities; for example: I sit on the Building and Estates Forum steering group, am a Collaborative Working Champion, have recently got involved with the CE sustainability group, helped negotiate the transition of the NCCTP into CE last August (yesterday‘s NCCTP meeting was facilitated by a CE staffer), and am speaking at some CE/ITCF-organised events next week (see previous post). As a result, I am now concerned about what the fall-out of this restructure might be on these groups and activities, and – at a more personal level – I am also worried about the potential impact of this restructure on CE people I have come to regard as good friends.

This news also comes as we mark the 10th anniversary of the Egan Report (post) – a seminal step that helped establish the need for organisations such as Constructing Excellence.

(PS: No news of the “restructure” on the unofficial CE blog.)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2008/05/downsizing-at-c/

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