“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past." Fidel Castro
I was feeling quite relaxed despite the responsibility on my shoulders.
I had travelled more than 300 miles to host an industry event in Scotland, attended by 50 or so construction professionals, with a line-up of speakers as knowledgeable as any I have witnessed.
It was all going well, right up to the point where I nearly fell off my chair.
Despite the first speaker using only nine of her allotted 25 minutes - leaving me with some considerable time to fill with my ad libs - the rest of the event had gone pretty smoothly and I was beginning to feel, if not exactly complacent, then reasonably relaxed. The final presenter was on his feet and he was proving to be a more than competent speaker, drawing laughs and murmurs of agreement from the audience despite the fairly dry topic about which he was speaking - efficiency in the construction industry.
The sun was beating down through the window behind me and my thoughts were wandering to my impending closing remarks and the subsequent train journey home.
It was then that I heard a bombshell being dropped.
“Construction is going to go through a complete revolution, the like of which we've never seen before” - Steve Petrie
In one sentence our speaker (Steve Petrie, Board member of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, since you asked) filled me with two conflicting emotions: excitement and regret; excitement that at last our industry was finally heading towards a future of innovation and efficiency, followed immediately by regret that my career is much nearer its end than its beginning and I’d be unlikely to witness the transformation!
In a few words Steve made me feel that the industry I love and which has given me a career for more than forty years will - after all - modernise itself and exploit the many advantages that 21st Century technology can provide.
His prophecy that “Construction is going to go through a complete revolution, the like of which we've never seen before” was, for me, complete validation of everything about which I’ve been speaking in public for the last decade or so.
I have written before about the many times when I been speaking to audiences when the response to my suggestions around change and innovation have been met with, if not exactly apathy, then a degree of ambivalence. Yet here is one of the most senior people in one of the industry’s largest companies predicting unequivocally that change - no, revolution - is imminent.
Such a statement if made only a few years ago would have been treated with barely concealed contempt by many and dismissed as unrealistic, unachievable and - crucially - unnecessary. Yet on this day and in this place his prediction seemed entirely plausible, inevitable even.
Guess I must be turning into a revolutionary!