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Procurement Perspectives: The role of luck in the construction industry

Stephen Bauld
Procurement Perspectives: The role of luck in the construction industry

The conclusion that successful leaders in the construction industry do not depend on the ability to call up miracles on demand begs the question of the extent to which success depends on luck.

Most people are far too willing to excuse their own failure to achieve as being the product of bad luck.

In contrast, few people are willing to credit their success to good luck. My theory on this topic is that both good luck and bad luck play a role in everyone’s outcome.

There is some truth to the proposition that a person can succeed entirely through luck, or through a combination of luck, talent and effort, but no one can succeed on talent and effort alone.

Some people believe that “being in the right place at the right time” has some merit.

Putting yourself in the right place at the right time is considered luck and this is the difficult part of the equation but can be arranged with considerable foresight and planning.

As a simple example, attending Construct Canada and having the opportunity to meet new clients and get purchase orders or leads on new projects.

Every year that I have been in this industry I have attended this event and as a result attracted new clients and work. Could that be considered as me being lucky, or is it timing, combined with talent and effort?

The clear majority of my friends I talk with that feel they have succeeded in life stress the fact that they worked hard, got a good education and planned well.

Even if one accepts that this is true, no one should ever disregard the influence of good or bad fortune on their lives.

Life is a game that mixes skill, effort and chance. Skill and effort may be important, but so too is the element of chance. In a study of leadership in industry, it is vital not to get caught up in the myth of success.

A person who believes he or she can succeed is more likely to succeed. Hard work also increases the likelihood of success.

However, if fortune does not smile, all the talent and all the hard work in the world are just seeds cast upon the stoniest ground.

When dealing with a game that involves even the slightest element of chance, one can never ignore the element of luck.

There are innumerable things that a person may do to improve his or her chance of success should opportunity knock.

These measures run from increasing professional and social contacts, as by so doing, the person will be part of a wider network of association.

Membership and active participation in trade associations generally creates a positive impression and may also lead to the discovery of career opportunities.

The failure to network and build alliances is one of the principle reasons for the ultimate disappointment of so many individuals who show promise when they are young.

Developing a network of contacts is time consuming, but generally is a rewarding exercise.

Being at the right place at the right time often means having the right talents and skills.

These attributes are only rarely a matter of luck, even to a nominal extent. They require careful training and practice.

There was a time when a person’s education ended at the latest in his or her early 20s. Those days are gone. Today, it is critical for success to remain up to date in one’s professional field, trade or technical area.

Accordingly, a person should take a wide range of professional training courses and seminars to remain at the cutting edge.

Every opportunity involves taking a risk.

Perfect information as to what to do, and what may happen, is never likely to be available. In this new year, I wish good luck on everyone in the hopes we can all recover from 2020.


Stephen Bauld is a government procurement expert and can be reached at Some of his columns may contain excerpts from The Municipal Procurement Handbook published by Butterworths.

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