Collaboration, the enabler for innovation to flourish

Hackathons demonstrate the power of data sharing, says Company Knowledge Manager, Gareth Parkes.

Construction isn’t the industry that first springs to mind when you think of innovation, but there are still plenty of other sectors who could learn from our industry. As the crisis has demonstrated, improved collaboration results in better outcomes.

To allow innovation to flourish, we first need to consider sharing good practice. Indeed, practice is the operative word: we need to do, to try, to fail, to achieve and learn, and this is where Project:Hack has been so successful. These hackathons are an opportunity to practice and define what good looks like, ready for the industry to take forward. It’s a space where relevant, everyday project delivery challenges are taken on by people from across multiple sectors, with an interest in delivering projects, and indeed tangible solutions are delivered, all within a weekend.

To take one example, in the most recent event, data was shared on a housebuilder who had to stop work due to the pandemic, leaving dozens of houses at various stages of completion. Over the weekend, analytics tools were developed to allow the housebuilder to decide which houses should be re-started and when, in order to meet project costs and programmes. Such tools are hugely valuable at any time, but particularly critical at this time of recovery. 

The ethos of partnership and collaboration so strongly encouraged at the hackathons breaks down barriers, amplifies inventiveness and ensures learnings are shared far quicker and more easily than in the real-world. By creating a safe space to practice, participants come together to share ideas, solve practical challenges, and go away with solutions to implement that are relevant or relatable to their businesses.

So, what can be learnt from this? In short, these events demonstrate what is already achievable today, and the sooner such ways of working are embraced more broadly, the sooner more opportunities and benefits will be realised.

Gareth Parkes is Company Knowledge Manager at Sir Robert McAlpine where he leads on data, innovation and digital transformation projects. 

He is a speaker at the next Project Data Analytics Meetup on 12th August. You can register online for this free event. 

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