Price, M (2014) The Single-Minded Project: Ensuring the Pace of Progress. Farnham: Gower.

The Single-Minded Project: Ensuring the Pace of Progress. By Martin Price, Gower, Farnham, 2014. 220 pp, ISBN 978-1-4724-2996-4, £58.50 (hb)

Publisher’s description: The behaviour of people and their organisation are the primary drivers of a project’s pace of progress. Methodology, tools and techniques are vital but subordinate to human endeavour; if only because their selection, deployment and application entirely depend on the abilities of the project players and their organisation. Performance ultimately rests on human and organisational behaviour: expressed by the players’ experience, professional ability, resolve, dialogue and collaboration. Fresh approaches and methods help practitioners to address this reality productively. This book is written under nine headings: collaboration; able people; strength; connections; rigour; pace; persistence; adaptation; and maturity. The Single-Minded Project offers a new and convincing appreciation of project management that will harness players and their organisation. It recognises that at its heart, the management and leadership of a project regime relies on the choices, behaviours and decisions of its players and the organisation’s freedom of action. It addresses the urgency of the project (the need for swiftness), coupled with the kind and degree of diligence (the need for rigour in the choice and management of method): referring to its Pace of Progress. The success of a project very much depends on the pace at which it is conducted to then deliver value. Projects find themselves in territory where methodology, tools and techniques are of little help. The Single-Minded Project fills that gap and more.

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Klee, L (2015) International Construction Law. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

International Construction Law. By Lukas Klee, Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, 2015. 534 pp, ISBN 978-1-118-71790-5, £75 (hb)

Publisher’s description: Large international construction projects often have a range of major contractors, subcontractors and consultants based in different parts of the world and working to different legal theories and understandings. This can lead to confusion in the understanding, interpretation and execution of the construction contract, which can result in significant disruption to the construction project. International Construction Contract Law is written for anyone who needs to understand the legal and managerial aspects of large international construction projects, including consulting engineers, lawyers, clients, developers, contractors and construction managers worldwide. In 18 chapters it provides a thorough overview of civil law /common law interrelationships, delivery methods, standard forms of contract, risk allocation, variations, claims and dispute resolution, all in the context of international construction projects. Highly practical in approach – it introduces legal analysis only when absolutely essential to understanding, the book also contains a range of useful appendices, including a 10-language basic dictionary of terms used in FIDIC forms.

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Bull, J W (2015) Life Cycle Costing: for the Analysis, Management and Maintenance of Civil Engineering Infrastructure. Dunbeath: Whittles Publishing.

Life Cycle Costing: for the Analysis, Management and Maintenance of Civil Engineering Infrastructure. By John W. Bull, Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath, 2015. 240 pp, ISBN 978-184995-148-7, £75 (hb)

Publisher’s description: The key areas of life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) and whole life costing (WLC) are exemplified in this volume with accounts of their application to housing stock, a community hydroelectric power system, various aspects of highway infrastructure, and corrosion protective coatings. Sustainable construction and design requires more than compliance with safety requirements and economic constraints, there is also the impact on the environment, the surrounding population and users of the infrastructure. This requires a multidimensional perspective of sustainability to be considered in life cycle costing (LCC) combining current design criteria with these other aspects. It has become increasingly important to understand the full costs of civil engineering infrastructure, and the main sources of cost, along the whole supply chain and to identify cost reduction opportunities. The conventional procurement approach without the integration of probabilistic life-cycle cost modelling induces substantial long term maintenance costs. Once deterioration and life-cycle cost models have been established, appropriate partnership procurement strategies, associated financing methods and determination of the project period can be developed. LCC includes the cost of planning, design, acquisition, operation, maintenance and disposal of buildings and other construction assets, while WLC additionally includes incomes and other costs such as non-construction costs and externalities. In whole life costing, social, environmental or business costs or benefits are considered as externalities and care must be taken not to double-count the impacts when WLC is used together with LCCA. The international examples included here illustrate practically the methodology of life cycle costing and the application of lifecycle cost analysis to identify the most appropriate method for assessing the relative merits of competing project implementation alternatives.

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Pie charts: graphical bling?

I find pie charts so tiresome. In an exchange with an author who thought they were a good idea, I was looking at the multi-coloured, three-dimensional, textured shading of a few segments of his pie chart, and thinking that this is such a waste of space. As I long ago learned from reading Edward Tufte’s work on the art of visualizing quantitative information, if a graphic takes up more space than a text explanation, it is probably not needed.

My students sometimes say, in defence of a pie chart, that pictures are good; “a picture can paint a thousand words”, they say. “Ha!”, I scoff. There are many pictures that are more eloquent than a thousand words. But a pie chart paints about 6-12 words. It tells me that most things were in one category and the remainder were not. Or another pie chart tells me that things were roughly evenly distributed. But it tells me nothing interesting and with no accuracy, unless it is annotated with information that I would have preferred to read as text.

I was wondering why pie charts are so popular and suddenly realized that they were the graphical equivalent of bling. Maybe there is a role for them somewhere, but I do not think they are a part of serious communication.

Here are a couple of more detailed critiques of pie charts:

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Publication rights and sharing your work

We often get enquiries from authors who have posted a pre-publication draft of their work in an institutional repository, or some other on-line repository of work-in-progress, such as SSRN or REPEC. These services invite authors to place working papers and drafts on-line in order to attract comment and discussion so that they may develop their work before journal submission. For the avoidance of doubt, we would like to emphasize that our publishers, Taylor & Francis, are happy with the idea of publishing a paper that has been in the public domain as a working draft.

Authors are permitted to deposit their paper pre-publication on a personal or institutional website as part of T&F’s Green Open Access Policy. They can post the Author Original Manuscript (AOM) and/or Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM). Both versions are of the paper before it has undergone any copy editing or typesetting. T&F then request that Authors link from the draft to the “Final Version of Record”, when it has been published. They should credit the published article and provide a link to it. Full details of the publication policy are kept up-to-date here.

http://wp.me/p1J7za-DF

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Special issue on theorizing expertise in construction

Background

Construction is a rich source of philosophical problems. Although construction research must meet the constant challenge of ensuring the relevance of theory to practice much work contains unwarranted assumptions about the nature of reality and social practice. Thinking and action in practice is shaped, sustained and valued by diverse social and organisational practices. Failure to suitably conceptualize this diversity leads to inadequately reflective or misguided theorizing. Since expertise is excellent performance it is central to both undertaking and explaining successful construction practice. In practice and academia when assumptions about the nature of expertise, the methods used for studying it, and its role in construction practice are explored philosophy is relevant to the roots of such inquiry.

Expertise research manifests itself in various forms in different academic fields. Within construction management work on expertise tends to be pragmatically oriented towards the improvement of practice with a focus upon seeking and implementing solutions to practical difficulties. In philosophy expertise research has a more reflective character with an emphasis towards the formulation and in depth discussion of problems. The extent to which researchers are exploring the notion of expertise and its management means that serious examination of its philosophical dimensions is not just merited but long overdue. The intention of this special issue is to develop a dialogue between these two fields and thus enrich expertise theorizing in construction.

Theorizing expertise is valuable and difficult as it bridges thinking and action, reason and intuition, and knowledge and learning; it is possessed by individuals and groups. Making philosophical sense of these diverse aspects of expertise is essential for more accurate and informative conceptions of practice. Improvements in conceptualizations of practice are a key element in addressing the continuous demand for superior construction management. Without better theory reliably identifying desirable changes in practice can be hard so investigating the concept of expertise has implications for construction education and research as well as for effective practice and organisational development. Furthermore, theorizing construction expertise extends existing industry work about knowledge management, experiential learning and radical education.

This special issue will explore how various philosophical perspectives on expertise could shape the practice research agenda with sufficient theoretical rigour to constructively advance critical debate. Thematically contributions could cover philosophical accounts of the nature of expertise (including their underpinning assumptions), ways of theorizing expertise, methodological approaches to investigating expertise (including appropriately theorizing empirical studies of expertise) and the role of expertise in construction practice. All the contributions will contain a section addressing questions about ways of theorizing expertise and methodological approaches to studying expertise in order to develop dialogue about the kinds of theoretical issues which matter for construction expertise. The issue will invite a variety of contributions including research papers, shorter notes and letters from researchers in construction and the built environment, philosophy and other disciplines.

Papers are sought in three broad clusters of ideas:

  • The nature of expertise and practice
  • Expertise and knowledge management in construction
  • Vocational education and construction education

Number of papers and types of contribution

The editors are seeking 12-18 papers for this Special Issue. Contributions may be papers, notes, letters, book reviews or obituaries, in order to provide a balanced and complete issue of the journal.

It is not expected that any one author will have more than one paper accepted as sole or joint author. If there are exceptional circumstances, the papers would be treated exceptionally by being referred back to the journal editors.

Author guidelines

Manuscripts should be in the range of 4,000 – 10,000 words.  The call is open and competitive, and all contributions will go through a double-blind peer review process. The Guest Editors for the special issue are happy to discuss ideas for papers:

  • Professor Mark Addis – Birmingham City University, UK – mark.addis @ bcu.ac.uk
  • Professor David Boyd, Birmingham City University, UK – david.boyd @ bcu.ac.uk
  • Dr Ani Raiden, Nottingham Trent University, UK – ani.raiden @ ntu.ac.uk

Schedule

  • Call for abstracts: 2 Dec 2014
  • Invitation to submit full papers: 15 Jan 2015
  • First draft submissions (3 mths to prepare MS): 1 May 2015
  • Decision with referee comments (3 mths): 1 August 2015
  • Revised papers (2 mths): 1 Oct 2015
  • Final submission and final edits (2 mths): 1 Dec 2015
  • Production: 15 Dec 2015
  • Publication: 1 Mar 2016
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Complete and unambiguous complementarity

In commenting on a paper, I raised a question about the mobilization of the literature in relation to a particular point an author was making. The point made by the author was, she said, an illustration of a phenomenon mentioned in the literature by four different authors. She cited all four at the end of the sentence. I added a note to the paper on the specific question of whether their were any tensions between these four works that she might have helped to resolve; or whether there were tensions between her work and theirs as a whole. In other words, I realized that the phrasing indicated complete and unambiguous complementarity between her work and theirs. And it struck me that this was a general issue in many papers I read. Authors frequently structure their citations to the literature as if there were complete and unambiguous complementarity, even when there is not. I think that, as an academic community, we would do well to be more nuanced in the way that we mobilize the literature in support of what we say. Perhaps we need to articulate the tensions in order to emphasize the precise aspects of complementarity between our work and previous research.

http://wp.me/p1J7za-CC

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Then, D S-S and Hee, T T (2013) Facilities management and the business of managing assets. London: Routledge.

Facilities management and the business of managing assets. By Danny Shiem-Shin Then and Tan Teng Hee, Routledge, London, 2013. 136 pp, ISBN 978-0-415-27494-4, £39.99 (hb)

Publisher’s description: The importance of facilities management to the effective operation of all businesses is now widely accepted. Where there continues to be debate is on what constitutes a successful approach, and how much attention it should be given within an overall business plan. Drawing on both research and current practice, this book provides a systematic, innovative, and business-focused approach to the management of facilities assets. The reader will discover why and how to use facility assets to achieve business goals and strategies by aligning them as a resource. Striking a balance between management and technical aspects, the book covers: the basics of facilities asset management and the key elements of a systematic management approach; the key supporting capabilities for facilities management as a business function; a framework for considering strategic alignment of facilities assets and associated services with business needs; the role of life-cycle asset management and its contribution to business resource management. The message of this book and the benefits it can bring to businesses everywhere make it essential reading for executives as well as facilities managers. Its detailed explanations of all of the key concepts involved, and lists of recommended further reading also make it an excellent resource for those new to the industry, and for students of property or facilities management.

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Yao, R, (Ed.) (2013) Design and Management of Sustainable Built Environments. London: Springer-Verlag.

Design and Management of Sustainable Built Environments. Edited by Runming Yao, Springer-Verlag, London, 2013. 432 pp ISBN 978-1-4471-4781-7, £153 (hb)

Publisher’s description: Climate change is believed to be a great challenge to built environment professionals in design and management. An integrated approach in delivering a sustainable built environment is desired by the built environment professional institutions. The aim of this book is to provide an advanced understanding of the key subjects required for the design and management of modern built environments to meet carbon emission reduction targets. In Design and Management of Sustainable Built Environments, an international group of experts provide comprehensive and the most up-to-date knowledge, covering sustainable urban and building design, management and assessment. The best practice case studies of the implementation of sustainable technology and management from the BRE Innovation Park are included. Design and Management of Sustainable Built Environments will be of interest to urban and building designers, environmental engineers, and building performance assessors. It will be particularly useful as a reference book for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the built environment field.

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Salkeld, D (2013) Project Risk Analysis: Techniques for Forecasting Funding Requirements, Costs and Timescales. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Project Risk Analysis: Techniques for Forecasting Funding Requirements, Costs and Timescales. By Derek Salkeld, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2013. 310 pp, ISBN 978-0-566-09186-5, £70 (hb)

Publisher’s description: Projects overspend and overrun. Business cases perform less well than expected. Managers tighten their grip and initiate more procedure. But little changes and the scenario repeats, and it has done so for decades. Losing other peoples’ money and goodwill is almost an innate characteristic of projects. This may be a norm but it need not be the natural state of affairs. In Project Risk Analysis, Derek Salkeld shows how easily assimilated techniques developed out of formal risk analysis methods can be used to increase the chances of projects being delivered to the oft quoted objective of on time and to budget, to quality and to popular acceptance. These techniques need to be understood by managers so that they can foresee the benefits of directing their teams to carry them out, and so they can inform their clients about the potential consequences of the investments they wish to make and how the project team plan to assure these. The three parts of the book explain how you can: calculate the funding required for a simple, short project using risk based methods to generate answers that are more accurate than traditional estimating; apply the techniques to inform an investment decision for a major project, taking into account whole of life costs, operations and revenues; design and implement specific management controls that will assure the outcomes of the investment decisions. Risk and opportunity are inherent in projects and yet, whilst many organizations invest heavily in project management methodologies and processes, few project sponsors, project board members or managers understand the effect these might have. The approach taken in the book is to understand how the risk and opportunity in a project will affect its funding requirements and its business case outcomes, and to use this understanding to devise management controls that will benefit both the investor and the project manager. This is essential reading for anyone concerned with adding value to projects, programmes and the organizations for which they are delivering them.

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