Being change ready


The title for this blog came from a talk given by the chief executive of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

In her view, being ready for change was a dynamic state — not sitting and waiting for change, but actively pursuing it.

But what can an orchestra change? After all, most of their repertoire will have been written a few hundred years ago. Not true.

Classical music is developing all the time, including new interpretations of original scores. The Philharmonia has realised they need to be seeking ways of connecting with today’s and, more important, tomorrow’s, audience.

Their schools outreach programme is already producing new music enthusiasts every day.

There is also their digital programme. In a concert hall they can expect an audience of perhaps 1000.

Streamed online, their concerts are gaining international audiences of more than 70,000 per concert.

This is a double win, as it shows their funders — and they have an annual budget of more than $10 million — that they are providing a new and exciting window on Auckland and New Zealand.

This programme attracts classical music lovers and those seeking new places to visit. And presenting Auckland as a cultural hub can’t be a bad thing.


Ready for change

As I have been known to gently castigate people for using “build” as a noun, I should apologise for the grammatical errors in the phrase “being change ready”.

But I won’t because it neatly encapsulates the point I am making, and is more memorable than “being ready for change”.

There is a book called The elements of eloquence by Mark Forsyth for anyone seeking a great turn of phrase, with examples from Shakespeare, Lennon/McCartney, Dylan (Bob and Thomas) and Winston Churchill.

I even learned that a pleonasm is a posh type of euphemism. Mark Forsyth also offered a quote for all struggling writers: You don’t need to have anything to say, you simply need to say it well.


So what does this mean for us?

A few examples of our industry’s current reluctance to seek out and embrace change:

Building Information Modelling: For BIM to be more than a relatively dumb 3D model, our industry needs to collaborate on all levels. This is not happening, so what is the BIM Acceleration committee doing about it?

More to the point, what are our industry organisations doing to encourage their members to accept the challenge of the new, and embrace a change to a BIM-based future? I suspect the answer is somewhere between nothing and very little.

So what are you doing to work more collaboratively? Not in the future — on your next project. Embrace change.

  Online consenting: This has recently been introduced by most council-based Building Consent Authorities. However, the system is neither national, nor does it do more than deliver a bunch of dumb PDFs.

Real change would have been more likely if the system was sophisticated enough to carry out initial vetting of whether the documents met basic code requirements.

Now all current systems will have to be thrown away and replaced with a new national system offering greater value. There are no signs that either the MBIE or their BCAs are seriously embracing change.

  Leaky buildings and substandard products: Leaky buildings and the use of illegal and substandard building products are a blight on our industry, with little sign that matters are improving.

Where is a serious plan by the MBIE to overcome any further issues with our leaking and deteriorating building stock, whether the problem is timber-related or is just about inadequate construction practices around cladding design?

Problems with substandard building products is about inadequate overview. The Government is aware of the problem, but is doing nothing to provide an answer, either directly or via their BCAs.

The “top of the cliff” answer is ensuring that all products are on a register of compliant products. The “bottom of the cliff” solution is ensuring that those overseeing construction have the power to step in and demand that substandard products be removed.

There used to be someone called the clerk of works who performed this role, but these fine individuals have been thrown out with the baby and the bathwater.

Our industry is so far away from being change ready that it can’t cope adequately with implementing basic construction standards. There is a long way to go before we even get back to the starting line.

Standards New Zealand: The MBIE apparently embraced change regarding Standards by absorbing it into this super ministry. Unfortunately it emasculated it at the same time.

As someone who spent much of my time last decade sitting on Standards committees, I see this as a seriously retrograde step — an example not of embracing change but of ignoring it.


Future prosperity

I was intrigued by a recent quote from an economics commentator: The country will not prosper from people selling houses to each other.

A glance at the current tax system — specifically, the lack of a capital gains tax — will explain why people see owning houses and apartments as a legitimate pathway to wealth.

Not that I would advocate a capital gains tax as it is more a blunt instrument than a useful way to direct people’s savings into business or the equities market.

I have to admit that, until recently, I didn’t even know that equities was a fancy word for shares.

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