Housing: Accelerating progress in MMC

Guy Garnett | 29 September 2021

For decades now the same construction techniques and materials have been used to build homes, with little innovation or development of techniques; the view that we just need to build more of the same houses quicker is dissipating.

With the housing crisis still front and centre and the industry under increasing pressure to reach sustainability targets as well as build numbers, the arrival of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is already revving up the engine of the industry. But there’s still a long way to go until these new methods are firing across all cylinders.

Why modular?
Modular housing is still very much in its infancy as developers continue to test and learn – Rosie Toogood, Chief Executive of L&G Modular Homes, has stated they spent three years developing designs and processes.

But the benefits of this method are undeniable; it’s quicker, cheaper, more sustainable, more efficient and removes many health and safety risks associates with onsite building. It’s undoubtedly the silver bullet housing associations need to hit both build and sustainability targets. But investors need to become less squeamish about manufacturers making losses in early years where research and development requires upfront, capital-intensive costs if modular is to really take off.

Whilst the industry needs time and investment to continue researching and developing to build strong supply chains and processes, it also needs to consider the skills and capabilities required to drive this today.

Fuelling innovation through talent
As in any industry, when innovation happens, new skills and capabilities are required – and this must start with your leaders. Leadership – both good and bad – trickles down and impacts every element of business. Quite frankly, you cannot expect to implement big changes to your business unless you hire and develop the right leaders to begin with. But in a changing environment, how can organisations ensure they have the right skills at the top to lead this?

At NSCG we’ve worked with many organisations to ensure exactly this. Here are our top considerations:

Assess your current leaders. Before looking at bringing in new skills and capabilities, it’s important to understand what is already in your organisation. Where are the skills gaps? Are the skills required short-term / project-based or long-term? If the former, an interim manager could be the solution to help drive quick transformation.

Develop your current leaders. Some skills gaps can be easily worked on and developed with your current leadership team. The key is for existing leaders to be adaptable and agile. We saw many do this as Building Information Modelling was implemented a few years ago to great success.

Hire new skills and capabilities. Bringing in new talent to plug skills gaps and bring new ideas and innovation to your organisation. As the sector continues to evolve, something we’re seeing more often is organisations looking to hire from outside the housing sector. These hires often have the direct experience to deliver MMC projects. For example, leaders within aerospace or automotive industries are able to bring in manufacturing and supply chain experience.

By widening the talent pool, housing organisations could benefit from bringing in leaders with more diverse skills and the ability to challenge the status quo.

Guy Garnett is a consultant within the Executive Search division of NSCG. If you would like to speak to someone about deliver successful change or transformation in your organisation, please get in touch.

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