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Procurement Perspectives: Change management in the construction industry

Stephen Bauld
Procurement Perspectives: Change management in the construction industry

Change management is the ability to confront and control change.

We can all agree the construction industry has been changing rapidly over the last two years during the pandemic and change management is inevitable.

Organizational change may be difficult but as the conditions of the environment within which the organization operates change, it becomes essential to survival.

Change forces people to make choices. Given the disruptive efforts of change, it is critical to make the right choices. In my opinion, where change is most drastic, life and success strongly favour those who learn most quickly.

The faster the world changes, the further many people fall behind, because they are completely unprepared to respond to the change. Sometimes what has worked well in the past almost certainly will not work well in the future.

If performance is sub-optimal, then the organization must change to improve.

If the stock market today is any indication of the efficiency in business, we all need to look at the change management process.

The mere fact that a particular practice has been followed for more than 20 years is no guarantee that it is the right thing to do.

In practice, specific to procurement, procedures are being followed even where the need that gave rise to them has long since passed.

There have always been legions of people who could give good solid reasons why changes should not be made.

Kings of industry are those who challenge accepted notions, who push the boundaries of the frontiers, who take the chances that are available and who are prepared to pay the price of taking risks and making mistakes.

Without such adventure, there can be no progress.

Progress and change are inexorable features of life.

Essentially, there are three ways of dealing with progress: one may fight the process of change, be pushed along by it, or become an instrument for effecting change.

The first of these strategies is doomed to fail.

The second strategy is low risk, but hardly marks the individual concerned as dynamic.

The third strategy no doubt entails the highest risk, but also offers the best opportunity for any individual to move into a senior management position.

Those who embrace change are the only people who over the long-term offer the potential to improve substantially the operation of any organization: to cut costs, facilitate distribution, expand markets, introduce new products and improve profits.

Only by dealing successfully with change can one open the door to continuous growth and development.

To fail to do so is to imperil the health and survival of the organization.

Change is a process of life and nature, and like all aspects of nature it is impersonal and indifferent, rather than unfair.

Change cannot be managed in the sense of being brought into line with some orderly step-by-step process.

It cannot be controlled. It can be influenced to a degree both by our response to it and by the avoidance of unnecessary risk. However, even with the greatest care, some adverse change will happen.

In today’s world, it is more necessary to be able to respond proactively towards change than ever. Modern business faces such intense competitive pressure that any company that fails to keep pace for even a few months runs the risk of never being able to catch up again with its competitors.

The change process has capability (including problem solving) and moral as well as technical implications. A process of continuous improvement implies steadily raising standards, as a society outgrows what it previously considered acceptable.

A society that has abandoned a desire to improve and to overcome the challenges against it has already embraced failure as its eventual destiny.

Problems will never get easier if one fails to improve.

To get somewhere else, one must evolve into something else.

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

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