11th November 2022

World Quality Week: Interview with Professor Cole

To celebrate World Quality Week, we talk to Professor John Cole CBE, an eminent figure of quality in construction whose independent inquiry into the Edinburgh schools has led to significant changes in the industry.

The theme of this year’s World Quality Week is “Doing the right thing”.  For us, this means fostering a quality culture in which we seek continuous improvement.

Earlier this year, this focus on quality led us to commission an independent strategic review from Professor John Cole to assess our position and put quality control at the heart of our operations.  

Professor Cole is the renowned author of the “Cole report” following the independent inquiry he led into the construction of Edinburgh Schools.

He is involved in a number of major projects, acting as a strategic adviser, primarily on the procurement side. He also sits on several Central Committees and works notably alongside Dame Judith Hackett.

As a team we are known for the great pride we take in our work and our ability to deliver some of the most iconic and technically challenging projects in the UK to the highest quality standards. This collaboration with Professor Cole helped us to improve our systems and our approach.

To mark World Quality Week, we are throwing the spotlight on five ways in which the business and our teams across the country are working to ‘do the right thing’.

  • Competence: We are ‘doing the right thing’ by making sure we have the right people in the right place and that they are supported to fulfil their potential.

  • Process: We are ‘doing the right thing’ by making sure we have good processes in place which are followed. This helps ensure that progress does not go unchecked, and that work is completed correctly so that we can hand over our buildings defect free.

  • Culture: We are ‘doing the right thing’ by ensuring we have a culture of quality delivery.

  • Compliance: We are 'doing the right thing' by making sure we comply with the Company Management System (CMS) and our legal and contractual obligations, not because we have to but because we want to.

  • Learning: We are ‘doing the right thing’ by continuously learning and improving. Our collaboration with Professor John Cole, exemplifies this approach.


One of the key areas for improvement advocated by Professor Cole to the industry is the appointment of supervisory staff to control quality. As a result, we have introduced a training programme for Works Managers.

Regional Chief Engineer, Phil Langton, explains: “The Work Managers Frontline Training Programme has been an essential part of our quest to improve quality across the business. Works staff, by their very nature, play a key role during the delivery of our projects and I would like to think the programme has armed them with the tools and confidence to lead from the front; heading off issues at the outset and setting the quality bar high.

“The modules I delivered with Alan Pearson gave a great opportunity for me to learn as much from the delegates as hopefully they did from us. Even the smallest improvements can make a huge impact.”

Interview with Professor John Cole CBE

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