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Unreasonable Leaders and Discomfort: The Unlikely Heroes of Construction Industry Reform

Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman June 16, 2023

George Bernard Shaw once said in part, “all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

But what does that mean for the construction industry?  

In researching for this article, I stumbled across a blog where the author stated in relation to this famous quote:  

“These words resonated with me because I confess, I have always felt uncomfortable with conflict. I naturally tend towards compromise and consensus. So when ill feelings arise, I’m keen to build bridges, change the subject, leave the room. However, I have become increasingly aware that the moderate path bears modest fruit: change needs challenge; progress needs protest.” 

Drop the mic moment.  

In this article, we’ll explore why industry parties must experience discomfort when major reforms are proposed, and why unreasonable leaders are necessary for the achievement of real change in the industry.  

The Need for Discomfort: Why We Must Feel the Pain  

Think about it – how often do we ignore a problem until it becomes unbearable?  

We reluctantly trot off to the doctors to be told what the issue is and a solution (hopefully!). 

The same goes for the construction industry.

To achieve lasting change, affected parties must experience significant discomfort and agitation. We need to confront the challenges facing the industry and the need for transformational reforms head-on.  

In my view industry parties have not to date, felt the blow torch of the urgent need for major industry reforms.   

Has everybody been too polite? 

But this discomfort shouldn’t be based on fearmongering or intimidation. Everybody must be treated with respect. Any proposed reforms must be well-reasoned and comprehensive, with the consequences of doing nothing laid out in brutal detail.  

It is unfortunately a minute to midnight, but the construction industry needs to undergo major reforms to become more productive, sustainable, and culturally relevant for 2023.  

*See full report here.

The Power of Unreasonable Leaders: Why We Need Them  

To truly transform the construction industry, we need leaders who are willing to be unreasonable. These are the people who persist in trying to adapt the world to themselves, rather than adapting themselves to the world.

Likewise, prominent people from various sectors of the industry, (leaders through their actions and status) need to fearlessly express their views on issues, developments, or proposed reforms.  

To be fair, some leaders are becoming much more vocal on industry issues. Indeed a few are also coming forward with well-conceived possible solutions, but unfortunately in other instances this is not the case.  

Unreasonable leaders are passionate, engaged, informed and willing to challenge the status quo. They’re not afraid to make people uncomfortable or to push for real change.  

Conclusion: Embracing Discomfort and Unreasonable Leaders  

In conclusion, the construction industry must experience reform discomfort and embrace unreasonable leaders to achieve real change.  

We can’t keep doing things the same way and expect different results.  

It’s time to challenge ourselves and push for transformational reforms, even if it hurts.  

I believe we need to get really uncomfortable when it comes to considering reforms. However, to do that we certainly need many unreasonable leaders to usher in a new, vastly improved, productive, sustainable and culturally appropriate industry.  

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Not intended as legal advice. Read full disclaimer.
Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman June 16, 2023

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