Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Transfer of Knowledge---Modular and Off-Site Construction’s Answer to Success

As an active participant for 40+ years in the modular manufacturing industry, I continue to be confused not only by the lack of information and knowledge transfer but also the lacking recognition of the absolute necessity for such discourse.

Coming up through the ranks, so to speak, I early on recognized a lack of desire amongst company/factory owners do not share best practices but more importantly a lack of appeal to seek those best practices.  Through the years it has become obvious that these fiefdoms, so to speak, held close to the vest what they apparently deemed to be “closely guarded proprietary secrets”.   While there certainly exists proprietary knowledge, all too often, in my opinion, the lack of a willingness to seek and share knowledge was and is founded in a selfish egotistical framework of attitudes.

Individuals are far more astute than I have long touted the absolute necessity and value of sharing knowledge.  One of my favorite management gurus, Peter Drucker stated, “The basic economic resource—the means of production—is no longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labor, it is and will be knowledge.”  He stated this many years ago, but the fact remains and has become ever more important as many attempt to enter the off-site construction industry.

As I retired from active operational management, I have felt the need personally and for the good of the industry to share knowledge gained over the many years of experience in all facets of the industry.  Two aspects of these consulting-based experiences continue to frustrate and confound me: 

1) The lack of a desire of those entering the industry to seek experienced-based knowledge.  

2)  The refusal in many instances to follow the advice based on those experiences.

There are far too many instances of startup failures with the accompanying loss of millions of dollars.  This of course not only presents dire circumstances for investors but continues to paint a bleak, undeserved, inaccurate, picture of our industry and the vast potential it offers.  

Without a doubt, the number one reason for failures remains the lack of industry knowledge based often based on the premise that individuals know construction and therefore know manufacturing.  There is a distinct difference!  (Possibly the latest tag for the industry is a misnomer “Off-site construction”?)  Industry knowledge can and should be transferred by placing individuals with specific industry experience and knowledge in positions that enable the transfer of knowledge……and early on in the process, long before footers are poured for that first of the oft-predicted many plants and operations. 

In conclusion, the successful growth of the industry lies in the transfer of knowledge from those that have been there and done that, to those that haven’t (but aspire to).  There are better mousetraps without doubt but the basic tenets of off-site building/construction/manufacturing remain valid and necessary.  Without seeking, early on in the process, the involvement of experienced industry professionals the odds of success are dramatically reduced.  

The industry can and will grow only when an accepted transfer of knowledge becomes an integral part of the planning and implementation process.  

Bill Murray, an experienced consultant in the modular and off-site construction industry with expertise in Due Diligence, Buying or Selling a Plant, and General Factory Management/Operations.

Contact Bill at wam3rd@gmail.com



Unknown said...

Well said Bill, that's why I read this blog. I'm quickly discovering what I don't know and and am learning more every day. It's getting me excited about pulling the trigger on a new plant.

Anonymous said...

Knowledge is different than know how, Knowledge can be gained through experience,accredited education or mentorship and is the one element in everyone's life that has no retirement date or sunset provision.

My wife says this to me all the time, you know more about nothing than anybody she knows, this is true as I listened too many "Old Heads" instead of children in my youth. I learned how to build from a friend who has been building for over 40 years and while I am a Class A Builder by virtue of passing a test I still don't have his know how and for this reason I rely on him almost every week for answers or "PRO TIPS".

In government they say "knowledge" is power yet whether it is the Modular Home Industry or Government, the age old question remains: Do you want to be RIGHT or EFFECTIVE?

Great Article Bill