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Off-road - or off course?

"...the obstacles between the construction industry we know today and the one it must become seemed almost insurmountable"

I enjoy a great life; good health, a happy marriage, an extraordinary family and wonderful friends; I live in a beautiful home (albeit very small!) and I love my work.

Few are blessed with such a charmed life and I have every reason to be grateful for my circumstances. I’m generally cheerful and anyone who knows me would call me one of those ‘glass half-full’ types.

With so much to be thankful for, why is it that lately I’ve begun to feel less content than normal? Am I imagining it, or am I feeling slightly despondent, anxious even?

As often happens to me, an idea or a solution to a problem will pop into my head when I’m least expecting it. Sudden clarity usually occurs when I’m doing something totally unrelated to what’s troubling me. For example, I often find solutions to clients’ design issues when I’m asleep!

And so it was last week; there I was enjoying an evening out at someone else’s expense, doing something I’ve been passionate about forever when – wham! – I realised what’s been troubling me. Normally, when I recognise a problem it’s a short step to a solution and I can get back to being my normal happy self.

Except this time I think the problem’s too big…

I’d accepted an invitation to visit the Jaguar Land-Rover plant at Solihull. A tour of the conference facilities (good venue for a BIM Workshop I thought!) was followed by a 45-minute ride in a £98,000 Range Rover across an incredible off-road course. I was already thinking this is a world-beating company even before the the final part of the evening – the factory tour.

Modern factories actually make my heart beat faster. They are so clean, organised and utterly efficient one cannot help but be impressed. A modern factory can create the most sophisticated products with ruthless efficiency. It’s clear that every single aspect of the unbelievably complex production process has been thoroughly designed, tested and refined. I am in awe of the incredible minds that have designed this plant.

Knowing it employs 10,000 people and another 2,500 contractors making best-in-the-world products was giving me a warm fuzzy feeling and a tingling sensation.

Then suddenly I realised why I’ve been feeling so ‘down’.

Attendees of our BIM Workshops hear me compare the construction and motor industries; at the start of my career both were similarly inefficient but the latter, I suggest, has transformed itself in every way in the last 40 years, whereas construction has changed rather less. I make this comparison to persuade those doubters about BIM that change really can – must – happen; every other industry has achieved it.

But that visit to JLR showed me just how ahead the motor industry really is. Depressingly, I felt that the obstacles between the construction industry we know today and the one it must become seemed almost insurmountable – even in a Range Rover!

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