Wise Up Wednesday: Business Can Never Be The Same Again!

“Business can never be the same again. If there is one lesson we must take forward with us, as we emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown, it is how unacceptably vulnerable the machinery of commerce and our livelihoods are to shocks beyond our control.” ( And not to revert to poor practices in construction. )

So says Lord Deben (the longest serving Secretary of State for the Environment the UK has ever had, who has been Minister for London, Employment Minister and Paymaster General in HM Treasury).

And although his article was about climate change, it really resonated with me in respect of its parallels to the poor practices in construction industry, and a very important message about business for Specialist Contractors, Trade Contractors and Subcontractors. So, here is the rest of what he had to say:

“If we simply go back to our past ways of doing things and leading and managing businesses in the industry how we have for the last goodness knows how long, then we are simply missing the opportunity to learn vital lessons. And whilst we cannot control when any future shock might hit us, we can shape our businesses so that they are more resilient and less vulnerable.”

As Lord Deben says: “Over the coming months, as we focus on the challenge of bouncing back, the critical task for any board must therefore be to identify how their organisation must change in order to become more resilient.

This is not simply to reduce the risk of it being upended in the future, as so many were by Covid-19. It is because without resilience there can be no sustainable commercial success in the long term.

end poor practices in construction industry


This job of building more resilient businesses cannot be done without first acknowledging that leaders need to change the way they think about risk.

From economic inequality, to excessive financial leverage; from exposure to climate change to over-reliance on finite resources, today’s business models remain underpinned by basic structural risks.

So, as businesses emerge into the ‘new normal’, business leaders must resist the temptation to return to the kind of business as usual which treated these risks as distant issues to be dealt with sometime in the future or as something for others to worry about.

Leaders must confront systemic risk with greater urgency and accept that responsible, resilient and sustainable business practices, far from being too costly or too niche to be relevant in advanced diverse global economies, are the very structure that underpins long-term business viability and success.”


This is a job that cannot be done unless we challenge every assumption about the way we operate our businesses today. And it is only by measuring resilience through the lens of sustainability that we can then reimagine the kind of changes we need to make so we can thrive in the future.

While in the past leaders may not have felt adequately equipped with the knowledge to do this on their own, the experience of the pandemic means that every business is now armed with insight around the vulnerabilities of the system and the kind of changes they need to make.

One example is the way we organise our supply chains. Having witnessed the international scramble for PPE equipment early on in the pandemic, or empty supermarket shelves, it is clear that resilient, transparent supply chains are vital. We need to know where things come from, how they are made and who made them – not just the first level, but right through the chain to the raw materials and every item which contributes to the final product. Of course, getting this right is a competitive advantage but it also can be an essential component of business survival.

The evidence could not be clearer that sustainability [and I would add good business practice], far from being a cost or a luxury, is really the only basis on which our businesses and institutions will survive in the future.

That requires a level of ambition, a leadership mindset and a willingness for business to act boldly and decisively to make the changes which recognise that it is people, planet and profit together which will drive our businesses forward and secure their future.”


By now, you will understand why I think that what Lord Deben has to say resonates so closely with the experience of Specialist Contractors, Trade Contractors and Subcontractors in the construction and engineering industries.

But, most important of all, what I would add is: don’t just sit and wait for things to get better, because (based on our 30 years of helping you guys), they invariably won’t.

In short: Don’t procrastinate – take action!


Building Back Better is not just for the owners or directors of the business to think about, it is a mind set that everyone needs to buy into. And again in our experience, the vast majority of your team will be up for the challenge of building back better, provided that you bring them on board as opposed to ramming it down their throats.

And, from time to time you are going to need external support, and our web site is a great place to find lots of useful information and details of all the support services we provide.

Please call our friendly helpline on 01773 712116 or email info@streetwisesubbie.com for a free no-obligation initial discussion, so that you can get a very quick idea of what we can do to help you Build Back Better.

And please do not think that if you are the boss you should automatically have all the answers. This is simply not the case, we are to help.

Please Help Spread The Word – Stop Poor Practices In Construction

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email about poor practice in construction and that it gave you some food for thought, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

In the meantime, please help to spread the word within your own business and with your colleagues in other businesses. Specialist Contractors are the backbone of the industry and we are here to help you all stick together.

You can find me on LinkedIn so why not connect up, and we have a LinkedIn Group with over 2,200 members so why not come and join us.

You can contact us on 01773 712116 or email StreetwiseSubbie here.

Read Lord Deben’s article here.

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