David Stockdale: Hold the horses – we’re not all ‘construction managers’
On receipt of Professor John Bale’s erudite paper, ‘An inclusive definition of Construction Management’, I wish to contribute my views on the current work being undertaken within the CIOB.
I have been a Fellow of the CIOB for twenty years, and joined the then Institute of Building as a student member in 1976. I earned my corporate membership in 1982 and have been intrigued, off and on, during the intervening period with regard to the debate surrounding our descriptor.
Like Halley’s Comet, it comes around on a cyclical path. We are now discussing ‘construction management’, how we can re-affirm what it is and what we, as corporate members can ‘badge ourselves’ within the context of construction management. Even though we are, after all, under the terms of the Royal Charter, Chartered Builders.
As I remember, the descriptor for a corporate member of the Institute of Building was ‘Building Technologist’. In 1980, with the granting of a ‘Royal Charter’ our descriptor changed to Chartered Builder.
Since then the CIOB has changed dramatically, becoming a ‘broad church’ and a progressive organisation in terms of the formation of strategic alliances, and the replacement of the IOB ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ with an enlightened route to corporate membership, accessible to all who share an ambition to gain corporate membership together with a strong work ethic.
However, embracing this broad church has a flip-side. In effect, it precludes a definitive descriptor that will satisfy all of its membership. However erudite the current argument for change, the simple fact – acknowledged by all concerned parties – is that no single descriptor, or proposed multi-part descriptor(s), will satisfy everyone.
Ten years into the new century, the ‘broad church’ that is the CIOB is a direct result of CIOB strategy over a generation. But in terms of the current descriptor, Chartered Builder appears to be regarded as ‘unworthy’, because ‘we are not builders’ or ‘I don’t wish to be associated with cowboy builders’ or my particular favourite, ‘Bob the Builder’.
The fact that we are a broad church requires lateral thinking rather than choosing what appears to be an appropriate descriptor (most probably influenced by the highly successful Construction Manager of the Year Awards and the name of our professional journal, Construction Manager).
If we move away from Chartered Builder we have failed, in my opinion, because we have failed in the generation since gaining the Royal Charter to positively influence society and be recognised as professional builders. The cowboy builders and the stereotype Bob the Builder will have succeeded in driving Chartered Builders away from the descriptor agreed with the Privy Council.
Why should we allow that to happen? After all, the Oxford English Dictionary has the Greek origin of the term architect as chief builder. The term ‘builder’ should not be underestimated. After all, how would you describe the builders of the great pyramids, or the great cathedrals, or any of the great buildings of history? I can recall many great builders, but not one construction manager.
We should be proud to call ourselves Chartered Builders and, like our predecessors in history, prove by deeds and actions that we are worthy of the title.
However, I am a pragmatic person and can actually see a way forward that presents an opportunity to the CIOB membership.
The environment and sustainable development are two vital issues that need to be addressed in the 21st century. At the forefront, in terms of its impact, will be the built environment within a new carbon economy. I believe that the CIOB has a marvellous opportunity to re-align itself to be at the forefront of this new economy.
My suggestion is that we look into the past in order to see the future (as our President Professor Li Shirong FCIOB suggested during her keynote address at February’s Guildhall Dinner). The notion of the built environment gives the key to our future as an enlightened professional organisation, in my opinion.
The word ‘built’ infers ‘builder’, and ‘environment’ provides the context – the ‘broad church’ if you will – that the CIOB currently encompasses. Every corporate member of the CIOB will be engaged in the built environment, every discipline will be represented as contributing to the built environment, we are all stewards of the built environment.
My suggestion on the way forward with this debate – if indeed it is a debate and not a ‘fait accompli’ – is as follows:
1 That we look to the past and utilise the term building technologist, from the Institute of Building.
2 That we recognise the leadership required with regard to the new carbon economy, which can be accommodated within the new descriptor ‘Chartered Building Technologist’.
3 The fall back position, if there is a problem with the Privy Council not accepting technologist, is that we revert to Chartered Builder.
I suspect that the dye is now cast with regard to ‘Construction Management’, but I just think that nobody can see the wood from the trees on this issue. Think again, hold the horses and just consider how many great construction managers have gone down in history.
David Stockdale, MBA, CEnv, FCIOB, CIOB Ambassador.