Reflecting on Richard Saxon’s letter (Inbox, 11 March), and Rob Charlton’s original thoughts (25 February, page 33), they have identified one of our industry’s core problems - too much functional focus and segregation on a project.
The underlying philosophy seems to be “chop a project into functional elements, let each put their blinkers on and optimise their part, and this must lead to the most effective whole”. The professional institutions reinforce this, but it is a reason behind many of our industry ills.
While we have, long ago, identified a way out of this - manage each project as an integrated entity - I do not believe that we have yet understood how to make it happen. It needs more than getting well-intentioned and experienced people together - we need to change the way we manage and control our projects to remove the practices that keep pulling us back to “the norm”.
It is possible - the Japanese have changed how they manage projects in their largest-spending ministry over the last six years with significant success.
However, I have not seen any signs that our industry bodies are interested in doing the same. We need individuals to learn how to do things differently and brave companies to drive change. The example of Japan I cited began with a single main contractor on a small civil project in 2005. Three years later the country’s largest ministry had over 4,000 projects using the method, and shortly after adopted the approach for all its projects. The UK had several successful pilots of the self-same approach over 10 years ago.
Let institutions catch up in their own time, but I would not expect them to drive the change.
Ian Hepinstall, via www.building.co.uk