I took this photo in London recently. I’d been to a conference in the city and I got such a buzz walking to the tube station afterwards taking photographs of the fantastic architecture and the new buildings underway.
Yesterday I was in Manchester at Salford University delivering my first ever guest lecture. I was asked to do a lecture on Corporate Strategy to their final year Construction and Project Management students.
The students have been given a project to study a large construction company to prepare a strategic appraisal of their organisation. This includes how they compete in terms of pricing and differentiation.
Earlier this week I was at a Construction Industry Council meeting and Dame Judith Hackitt gave a presentation on her report, ‘Building a Safer Future‘ and her recommendations following the Grenfell Disaster. One of the things that is highlighted in the report is the “race to the bottom” stemming from a prime motivation to do things quickly and cheaply which we know happens in our industry as the profit margins are so low.
In my lecture I talked about the importance of vision, mission and values and how value and ethically driven organisations are proven to be so much more profitable. A lot of people think this is just ‘fluffy stuff’, but it makes real business sense as well as being the right thing to do. It also makes a difference in attracting new talent. Young people coming into our industry want to feel part of something and they want to know why you do it and not just what you do.
This is the subject of a fantastic book and TED Talk by Simon Sinek, author of ‘Start with Why’. He talks about how much more powerful and magnetic the ‘why’ is to a prospective client and employee rather than the ‘what’ and how that impacts on profitability and talent retention.
“Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility. When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the growth, loyalty and inspiration that helped drive the original success”.
As part of my research I looked at quite a few websites of both large and small companies (including the one the students are looking at) and what I found really interesting was hardly any of them had their vision, mission or values on their home page. There was nothing on there that really gave a snapshot of who they were and what drives them. If I were a potential client or employee, I’d be underwhelmed.
I truly believe it’s time for a revolution in the industry and part of that revolution is for companies to really start to value themselves and really demonstrate that value in how they communicate and are perceived by the outside world.
In my lecture I talked about the importance of a ‘Value Proposition’. This is a statement that introduces you to prospective buyers and helps you make a strong first impression. It describes the value you promise to deliver to your customer and it’s what makes your product attractive and stand out from your competition. It’s specific, pain-focused and exclusive.
Again, there were no value propositions on the websites I looked at.
If we are ever going to stop the race to the bottom, companies need to really look inward and pull out all of the amazing value that they bring to the table. We build some awesome buildings, just like in this photo.
One of my clients is doing just that at the moment. I started working with a small house building company earlier this year and they are flying. They’ve gotten really clear on their values, which is making a positive impact on their culture and their profits as one of them is ‘zero waste’. When you look at their website their values and mission are prominent and they are really standing out from their competitors, so much so that they’ve just been awarded their biggest contract to date and their profit margin is 10%. They were asked to reduce their costs during negotiations but refused to budge on their profit margin. They weren’t the cheapest, but they are the best. It can be done.
So, my questions for you now are, what is your ‘why’ and when are you going to start your own revolution?
If you want any help in getting started, click here and let’s talk.
Have a great weekend.