“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” - Donald Rumsfeld, 13th and 21st United States Secretary of Defense
Associated General Contractors Houston is firmly committed to the efforts of creating a sustainable workforce in the commercial construction industry. We are equally committed to not only growing the capacity of the minority contracting community, but also to assisting those companies in achieving long-term success. One thing I have found out in participating on the committees, boards and task forces associated with both of these worthwhile initiatives, is that it is important that all involved engage and acknowledge in what we know and what we don’t know.
AGC Houston’s effort on developing a sustainable workforce is dedicated to its work with the Construction Career Collaborative (C3) and with the Construction Sector of the Greater Houston Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative. The success to date and the continued momentum of both of these organizations is directly related to the input of general and specialty contractors, building owners, academics, architects and community based organizations. Sharing what is known and understanding what is not known is helping to establish a more sure-footed path forward.
Increasing minority contractor capacity was a top directive from AGC Houston’s 2012 strategic planning session. Early on, the Diversity Committee realized the success for growing capacity was in the ability to help minority businesses grow to a sustainable level. Again, the opinions of the contractor community, minority contractors, public officials, surety representative and training directors are helping to develop the next best steps. The data gathered from the recently released survey, coupled with the first of many interviews with minority contractors is helping the committee to better focus on customizing its mentoring program.
From a personal standpoint, I must say that it is a privilege to work with individuals from so many different disciplines – general and specialty contractors, academia, community-based organizations, public entities, minority start-ups, etc. To say that every individual has a different idea, a different opinion or even no understanding to each specific point, would be an understatement. However, to make the best decision, it is important that each of us knows from where the other is coming from. As Stephen Covey listed as Habit #5 in his bestseller, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People or as it is stated in the Prayer of St. Francis (Peace Prayer), “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
AGC Houston’s tagline states, “bringing people together to discuss the issues important to our industry.” That often entails sharing more of what we don’t know or what we thought we didn’t know, than what we know we know.