Wednesday, 15 October 2014

My top 10 Business Books

I am an avid reader of business books and in particular business biographies. I have been asked several times for my recommendations. Recently one of the team specifically asked for my top ten so I spent a little time going over my library to find the books which I had found most useful and had influenced me.

The following is my top ten.Not all of them are traditional business books however they tell stories which I have found useful.

We can learn from the past and all of these people have been exceptional in what they do. I have looked back over 100s of books I have read and after considerable deliberation these are the most influential. There are a few others on the fringe which didn't make the cut.

They are not necessarily ranked in order of preference but more in the order to read them.

I've mixed lighter books with heavier books and left some of the more challenging stuff to the end.

Just the best book on how business works. Backed up with facts:
Good to Great
Jim Collins

The sequel talking about how businesses can be sustainable:
Built to Last
Jim Collins

This book is more about the man than the company. Great integrity and values:
Who says elephants can't dance
Louis v gerstner

How to look at the world and its markets differently:
Purple Cow 
Seth Godin

How business was done:
Jack Welsh

An amazing story of innovation, tenacity and culture:
Creativity Inc
ED catmull

A very practical book on business issues:
43 mistakes business's make and how to avoid them
Duncan bannatyne

How to build s culture from nothing:
Bill and Dave
How Hewlett and Packard built the Worls Greatest Company
Michael S Malone

This guy influenced so much you need to understand him:
My life and Work
Henry ford and Samuel Crowther

For me the ultimate business man. A genius. Unlikely to be repeated or replicated but we can learn some small things
Steve Jobs. The exclusive biography
Walter Isaacson 

When you have read this lot you will be sick of you life.To cheer you up stick your head into the two Danny Baker Auto Biograhies as well as any book by Peter Kay. They will have you laughing out loud without fail!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

10 Construction bosses leaving their roles in 2014 so far. Is this a crisis?

In 2012 the construction industry in the UK contributed £83.0 billion in economic output, 6% of the total. 2.15 million jobs or 6.5% of the UK total were in the construction industry in Q4 2013.

The top 30 contractors in the UK by revenue, turn over around £26 billion. During 2014 10 of these organisations have lost the senior leaders of their business. The majority have been sacked with some resigning or retiring. An industry which contributes 6% of the UK output which then loses such a large percentage of its leadership must be in crisis. 

During the banking crisis of 2008 the banking industry did not lose this many Chief Executives. Most of these directors have lost their jobs due to drastic financial loses. Like with the banking crisis now is the time to look at the reasons what we have found ourselves in this position and more importantly how can we stop it happening in the future.

These directors are not necessarily bad leaders but have found themselves at the top table at the wrong time and are therefore scapegoats. The issues are not with individuals but with the system.

Culture is the fundamental issue with our industry. We do not collaborate, we are not open and honest and we do not invest long term. 

The top 30 contractors by revenue are listed below. The 10 bosses who have moved on are identified.

Kier chief executive Paul Sheffield stepped down at the end of June after a career spanning more than 30 years with the contractor.

Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty chief executive Andrew McNaughton quit "with immediate effect" at the same time as the firm issued a profit warning for 2014.

Morgan Sindall




Galliford Try
Galliford Try boss Greg Fitzgerald plans to retire after 33 years at the firm before the end of next year.



Paul Drechsler the long term boss left Wates in January.

ISG’s construction managing director Alan McCarthy-Wyper left the firm after just 18 months. McCarthy-Wyper was brought in from Balfour Beatty Rail by ISG chief executive David Lawther in May 2013.

Laing O Rouke

Willmott Dixon confirmed that divisional chief executive of its capital works division will step down at the end of this year.

John Frankiewicz has worked for the contractor for 30 years and will return as a non-executive director in 2016 after taking a year-out from the industry

Lend Lease

Brookfield Multiplex


Booker Vessels

John Sisk


Bowmer & Kirkland


McLaughlin & Harvey



Vinci Construction UK revealed a new senior management team after a recent reorganisation.

The reshuffle followed the departure of chief executive John Stanion and his replacement by Bruno Dupety, former boss of Vinci group business Soletanche Freyssinet.Vinci Construction UK managing director Andrew Ridley-Barker and commercial director Paul Tuplin also exited.


Shepherd Construction managing director Phil Greer left the company earlier this year.Phil was a Shepherd veteran having occupied a string of senior positions since joining the company 35 years ago.



Sir Robert McAlpine

Vince Corrigan suddenly left the firm. Corrigan, 53, was a main board director and London and South East region boss.


10 directors is 10 months must be a crisis. All of these bosses could not have all become bad leaders overnight. The issue is not the individuals biput the system and culture which exists across constructiin.

It's time to rethink!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

What have the the Red Arrows and Aston Martin got to do with construction?

The answer is absolutely nothing! Maybe that is the problem we have in construction.Both organisations are acknowledged for their excellence. 
I came across these organisations at the Kent Construction Expo today where I was speaking about digital construction.What made this event special was the fact that on the same site in the same day was the Kent manufacturing expo. 
There was a stark difference between the two. The manufacturing event was very digital and had machines doing all sorts of clever things on show. There was even a real car which was beautiful. The construction aspect was less impressive regretfully with mainly service business rather than products or technology. 
The talk from the red arrows pilot was fantastic. He talked about highly performing teams and how, through briefing and de briefing in every single flight, they strived for excellence. EverY flight is recorded on video from the ground and then reviewed. They do three runs every day and every one is de briefed before the next flight. They have an openness about performance and are objective about their own errors. 
Can you imagine this level of commitment  to excellence and performance in construction. 
I then listened to the purchasing director from Aston Martin. They have 140 supply chain partners. They are real partners and they support one another. They are looking for innovation all of the time but they measure performance of their supply chain constantly and and provide ongoing feedback. There is incredible openness and every quotation must be totally broken down and transparent. 
How different is this to the culture in construction. I'm sure we have all struggled to get even the simplest schedule of rates or a preliminaries breakdown in the past. 
The issues in construction are all cultural. Today another tier one boss lost his job for poor performance. T Clark posted a profit warning and Royal Dutch BAM made 650 people redundant. 
These issues are no one individuals responsibility but are down to all of us who have worked within this environment. We must challenge now for a better and different way of doing things. We can build an industry with a sustainably future.