My first passion — and the root of the business — is journalism. The challenge of ferreting out information that combines newsworthiness and interest has always intrigued me; and as a young adult, I achieved my first goal — excellence in the craft of capturing and reporting the news on an international scale.
Then, just as I celebrated that accomplishment, I realized (with something of a thud), that the “real world” is much more complex and has many different layers than a globe-trotting journalist could ever hope to experience (and I became painfully aware that if I wanted to spend my lifetime as an international correspondent I likely would have to sacrifice other, more important, values.)
Today, I see this combination of excellence within narrow spaces (even on a really big scale) with the larger moving-parts picture, and this combined perspective causes me to be cautious when anyone preaches a simple answer to big problems; unless that simple answer is so universal to be almost useless from a perspective of truly achieving a leadership edge.
I’ve also noticed patterns: repeating, predictable behaviours. Some of these are the clichés people think are right, even though they are just sloppy. Others reflect the common and consistent tensions defining this industry: Union vs. non-union, change-order profits vs. inadequate drawings and specs, architectural and engineering design excellence vs. budget restraints. Most of us, based on where we are within the industry’s ecosystem, have clearly defined values and perspectives and in some areas (especially the union vs. non-union fight) the battle takes on predictable political levels as both sides lobby for relevant labour laws and candidates who support their pre-set positions.
Really novel news and change occurs rarely, and sometimes arrives as a quiet sleeper, only to radically change everything. Game-changing trends now include public-private partnerships and integrated project management/building information modelling (IPD/BIM). Yes, these stories aren’t that new any more — but I notice how they are changing the rules and practices within the overall industry.
Although we rightfully have our own perspectives, I encourage architects, engineers, contractors and suppliers to see the bigger picture. You can find answers in part by reading relevant trade publications (sometimes outside of your own discipline) and through your participation in interdisciplinary associations. You will still have your own perspectives, but you’ll be able to apply your understanding of others’ into your business development and relationship-building marketing initiatives. When you do that, you’ll realize that there is much more to effective construction marketing than to getting your brand identity right.