What is the future of professional institutions?
The next decade will be challenging and exciting for construction. The CIOB should grasp the opportunities ahead to stay relevant, says Mark Beard.
It is very easy to think that tomorrow will be a materialisation of today: a minor change here and a tweak there and everything will be fine. This has been the case for many professional institutions and clubs for the last few decades.
However, over the next decade, we are likely to see the environment in which professional institutions operate change dramatically for a number of reasons:
- Government is becoming increasingly frustrated at the variety of different institutions and trade bodies that represent our industry;
- Members are becoming more discerning about the service their professional institution provides them, beyond their core professional qualification; and
- The baby boom generation are starting to retire, so to grow revenue professional institutions will need to be more innovative, fleet of foot and commercial.
All organisations are guided by their mission statement, vision and values – and, whatever pressures one faces, it is important to stay true to these. Additionally, we at the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) are lucky enough to have a Royal Charter which guides us.
Granted in 1980, its objectives are the promotion for the public benefit of the science and practice of building and construction, and the advancement of public education in the said science and practice including all necessary research and the publication of the results of all such results.
We are also very lucky to have a loyal diverse membership, enviable reputation and strong balance sheet. However, all this could be lost very quickly in today’s fast-moving world, unless we change with the times and ensure the way we operate is relevant to the third decade of the 21st century, in particular:
- We differentiate ourselves from other similar organisations, and our research, lobbying and public relations are all well thought through and targeted. We are listened to, because we have a track record of being objective.
- We are welcoming to all generations and nationalities. Our body language, oral language and written word is modern and uses today’s communication platforms as well as yesterday’s.
- We are lean and efficient, ensuring members’ subscriptions are spent in an appropriate way – on services, events and opportunities they will use and treasure.
- We have a governance and management structure that gives members confidence their interests are fully considered, is transparent and above all effective. Should the key decision-making body be: the elected trustees (as we have at the CIOB at the current time) or a board of executive and non-executive directors, led by an independent chairman, overseen by trustees who focus solely on the bigger picture and governance?
“An agile, well-respected, member-focused CIOB can be independent and relevant or, if we so wish, the catalyst for bringing various construction professional institutions together.”
Some of this is difficult. We are in part a members’ organisation, but we also have a public role to fulfil. We are the guardians of hard earned and well-respected qualifications. Sometimes these roles are complementary, sometimes not.
But the journey of modernisation can be extremely fulfilling; there is always low-hanging fruit to pick and successful change leads to wider organisation buy-in and growing appetite for further change.
Fully grasping the opportunities ahead will allow us to determine our own future. An agile, well-respected, member-focused CIOB can be independent and relevant or, if we so wish, be the catalyst for bringing various construction professional institutions together to form a powerful cross-disciplinary property and construction professionals’ institution.
Resting on our laurels is likely to result in the opposite occurring, with both our membership numbers and influence diminishing. In the language of the jungle, “eat or be eaten”.
The next 10 years are likely to be a challenging and exciting time for professional institutions and all who earn their living from construction. I look forward to playing my part in grasping the opportunities ahead of us, raising the CIOB profile within our industry and above all continuing to proudly call myself a builder in all facets of my life.
Mark Beard is chairman of Beard Group and vice-president of the CIOB