Edge Thought 20: Edge response to CIC Strategic Review, March 2016

The Edge recognises the valuable role that the Construction Industry Council (CIC) plays in the industry in representing a wide range of professional institutions and membership organisations. The Edge believes that both co-ordination and collaboration amongst the wide range of bodies that form the CIC is essential to the health and forward development of the industry and the main mission of the CIC should be to support this.

In May 2015 the Edge published Collaboration for Change: The Edge Commission Report on the Future of Professionalism (C4C). The report focused on the various institutions in the industry including the CIC following an extensive process of evidence taking from a range of key players including Graham Watts, Chief Executive of the CIC. Collaboration for Change contained 26 specific recommendations organised under 4 main headings, as follows:
A. Ethics and the public interest
B. Education, competence and the development of a body of knowledge
C. Institutional organisation and the relationship with government
D. Collaboration on strategic issues
• Industry reform
• Climate change
• Building performance

The principle of the report was that organisations should collaborate on those issues where they had an interest and provide leadership and facilitation on only one or two of them. Although the CIC has an overarching role we believe that it should take the same approach, combining support to initiatives led by others with leading on and driving specific projects.
There was one specific recommendation (C-1) in Collaboration for Change that specifically named the CIC. [The institutions should:] “Develop and empower the CIC as a shared outlet for joint initiatives and announcements, lobbying, campaigning etc on selected cross industry issues.

This recommendation came out of the concern that fragmented representations to government were neither welcome nor effective. Similarly messages and campaigns promoted by single institutions were rarely as successful as they could have been if they had been a joint effort involving several institutions. It was clear the professional sector of the construction industry needed the ability to collaborate and speak with a co-ordinated voice on many key matters.

A section in Collaboration for Change (pp 66-67) specifically discussed the CIC and described the CIC as a ‘success story’, but it also noted that “Unless the CIC is able to initiate the consideration of issues beyond those passed down from individual institutions, then we lack the means of thinking and improving across institutional boundaries, and a key potential advantage of the professions is lost in the interests of protecting ‘turf’.”

The CIC needs to develop a means to provide thought leadership for the industry and this fits well with recommendation B-8, that the institutions should: “establish a joint think tank that could pool the resources of the institutions to conduct research and develop policy for the industry – a King’s Fund for the built environment.”

Such a body could provide the CIC with the in-depth background thinking and research to allow it to act with intelligence on behalf of the industry. The Edge recommends that the CIC sponsors and helps to bring into being a built environment intelligence unit as an arms-length body under an independent board. It is not suggesting that the CIC should become a think tank itself.

The CIC has an important function facilitating collaboration between its member organisations (and others) and the CIC should consider how to usefully badge such collaborations with the CIC logo. It should not mean that every CIC member (or even a majority of them) is involved in a project so long that it has the agreement of the CIC Council and reports back on a regular basis over the project’s life.

The CIC should also consider recognising other industry initiatives and agree to support and make common cause with them without necessarily devoting its own resources to them.

The Edge’s recommendations to the Strategic review are that the CIC:
• puts its main effort into helping its member organisations to collaborate together on projects, campaigns and other cross-disciplinary activities. The CIC might provide limited services to these activities, possibly including a secretariat, a dissemination service and an overall identity, but it should not seek to direct or immediately own them;
• sponsors and supports time-limited projects on agreed topics with a cross-industry focus
• sponsors and nurtures a stand-alone think tank/intelligence unit for the industry to provide research and thought leadership;
• co-ordinates views and acts as a spokesperson for its member organisations on a number of agreed issues and to agreed audiences (eg parts of government);
• continues to provide a hub for meeting, discussion and negotiation both between its own members and with other relevant parties;
• continues to support, work with, listen to and organise activities and events through an autonomous regional network;
• continues to carry out commercial activities on behalf of its member organisations, the industry and the wider public;
• forges links with other pan-industry groups

the Edge 24.3.16

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