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Money talks The Construction Best Practice Programme aims to sell the benefits of Rethinking Construction with the promise of cash rewards.

The message from the Government at the launch of its Construction Best Practice Programme this week was straightforward - 'construction firms that embrace change make better profits'.

The reason for choosing this simple message is obvious. The Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions has realised that the only way to appeal to the entrenched and battle-scarred attitudes which prevail in the industry is to stress the impact on the collective


Since July 1997, when Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott asked BAA chief executive Sir John Egan to form a task force to tackle waste and inefficiency in the construction industry, there has been a flurry of reports, initiatives and programmes.

There have been so many, in fact, that some in the industry have already started to make noises about information overload.

But it is also staggering to note just how many others have never heard of Rethinking construction, the Egan Report or the Movement for Innovation - let alone know how to respond to them.

Head of the DETR's construction directorate John Hobson explains that the main purpose of the CBPP is to lift this mist of ignorance by giving the industry access to information. 'Confusion is the downside of people cracking on and doing something,' he said. 'We now have a piece of mechanism in our hands to alter this.'

One of the Egan initiative's biggest problems could also be described as an asset - the speed at which things seem to change. Having started with a task force, 18 months later we have Rethinking construction, a steering group, the Movement for Innovation board, demonstration projects, key performance indicators and targets, the Knowledge Centre of which CBPP is a part, the Housing Forum, Construction Industry Board Implementation Group and most recently the Supporters & Sponsors Club.

As Hobson himself pointed out, each time he talks about the progress of the initiative he has to remake his presentation slides.

Focusing on the potential for making better profits is the key way to draw individuals and firms into this mysterious

world where the converted wax lyrical about their successes but speak too often in management consultant jargon.

Taking the goals and ideals talked about by Egan away from the exclusive domain of the converted is Construction Industry Board chief executive Don Ward's priority. He describes the industry as being split into four distinct groups - the top class innovators (the converted), the early adapters (the committed), the late followers ('trying to bring order and process to the carnage') and the others (carrying on as normal).

'The CBPP brings resources. The aim is to provide companies with a wake up call,' he says.

The CBPP adds: 'Embracing change is never easy, but for those prepared to take the plunge, the rewards are there. There is a strong link between innovation and improved business performance.'

So when Egan talks about partnering, the supply chain, improving the process, production of components, design process management, product development, innovation and sustainable construction, the industry should put the jargon to the back of its mind and just think of improving their businesses and counting the cash. 'Greater profitability is the bottom line,' says the CBPP.

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