Can the Egan agenda survive recession? Without it, a downturn would be horrific
Past experience has shown that when the US sneezes, the UK catches a cold. As turbulence in the US stock market is mirrored over here, the construction industry, which fared so badly in the last recession, is wondering about its future stability.

The good news is that recent published figures show that growth is currently being maintained, but some economists and industry analysts have predicted we are heading for, at best, a big fall in demand and, at worst, a full-blown recession.

If we are heading for an economic downturn, the question is will the current Rethinking Construction initiatives for improving the standing of the construction industry be the first "luxury" to be dropped? Will the industry simply revert back to delivering projects in the traditional fashion to clients who insist on procurement based on lowest tender prices? With all the current speculation surrounding the economic state of our industry, inevitably some people will forecast doom for these initiatives. We will have to wait and see if Egan best practice, innovations and a blossoming culture of trust, openness and honesty will continue through the bad times as well as the good. Indeed a recession would be the acid test of how much they have changed the traditional culture of cost competition and adversarial practices. Expenditure on non-profit-making exercises is usually the first thing to get the chop when a recession begins to bite.

But having seen how this sharing works first hand within the Movement for Innovation's regional clusters, I believe that those individuals who have benefited from Rethinking Construction will maintain their involvement.

This is because those organisations that have committed to demonstrating Rethinking Construction principles have already reaped the rewards of increased productivity, predictability and profitability and real bottom-line business benefits as highlighted by the headline KPI results.

There’s one sure-fire way to turn the tide of recession, and that is to get the rest of the industry on board the Egan agenda

If organisations both on the supply and demand sides of our industry choose to revert to their old adversarial ways of procurement and construction, this will only spread the pain of bankruptcy and unemployment further.

The road to recovery and a sustainable industry is through continuous improvement: doing more with less, being leaner not meaner, cutting out waste and doing things differently. If the industry chooses to sit back and wait out a recession, then it will have only itself to blame for prolonging that wait.

Indeed, the only way forward is continuous improvement and a recession means more effort and greater emphasis on reducing waste. To get over a slump in demand for construction products, companies will have to really get on board with such improvement techniques as lean thinking and supply development. There is one sure-fire way of turning the tide of recession, or even preventing it happening, and that is to work even harder at getting the rest of the industry on board the Egan agenda.