The Tale of the Forgotten Building and the Three Engineers is our way of sharing our experiences by looking at how buildings have been failed by the traditional approach of the UK maintenance industry, and how it needs to radically change to deliver better service, greater efficiency and support our national net zero agenda.
But why a fable, and where did the idea come from?
It came from us reflecting on the way others had shared their experiences and ideas. I’m not an avid recreational reader, but I have always enjoyed management and leadership books. My first in the late 80’s was Making it Happen by Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE. Being an ex-Royal Navy Officer and a former CEO of ICI, his background resonated with me because I’d originally trained with the MoD (Navy).
Reflecting on his life experiences and how he’d transformed ICI, he referenced different management styles, from forward thinking, agile managers, to those who were more closed-minded and resistant to change. Sadly, he died in 2008, but his legacy lives on through his books and his Trouble Shooter TV series.
In the early 2000s, I read Good to Great, by Jim Collins. He researched how good companies became great. He describes that in great companies, their leaders are different and settles on the characteristics of humility and a drive to do the right thing for the good of the company, not themselves. The book holds fond memories for me, as it was a particularly successful chapter of my career with Compass Group Plc, and it was at the heart of our strategy. For the first time, I witnessed how corporate culture, values and the proper leadership of people translated directly into performance.
Another standout book for me, was Winning by Jack Welch, the former CEO and Chairman of GE. As a straight talker, he considered that focussing on people, teamwork and profits was vital, and that suitably energised and empowered teams could solve any problems and bring great opportunities too. I’ve experienced how businesses can jump too quickly to engage external consultants.
In 2016 I read Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable which highlighted the challenges of a new CEO at a struggling firm, and how she helps a dysfunctional executive committee succeed as a team. Founded upon recognising individual vulnerability i.e. none of us know, or can do everything, the author provides invaluable tips to overcome the human behaviours he asserts corrupts teams: the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. It’s a brilliant book and features in our business today.
We have really enjoyed and welcomed the feedback received since publishing The Tale of the Forgotten Building and the Three Engineers, and who knows, it might just inspire someone else!