Professor Perry Shard wins 2023 Tom Barton Award

13 Oct 23
Professor Perry Shard wins 2023 Tom Barton Award

Professor Perry Shard of John Sisk & Son was presented with the 2023 Tom Barton Award at the ICE Awards ceremony in London today. 

The award, which was created in memory of former GIRI executive director Tom Barton, was presented by Tom’s wife Mary. It celebrates engineering and construction professionals who have demonstrated excellence in implementing initiatives to improve quality, productivity, safety and sustainability by reducing errors.

Perry, who is head of quality (UK) at Sisk, won the award for his work on non-conformance reporting and the cost of quality, which has helped to transform the business’s approach to managing quality. 

Challenged by the company’s CEO in March 2021 to identify the cost of quality for the previous year, Perry reviewed historic data and explained why the estimated figure was likely to represent only a fraction of the true cost. He was then asked to establish a plan to collect and improve the quality of that data, and over the following 12 months he led a project to develop a new process around non-conformance reporting and increase the visibility of error within the business. 

“Building on my experience and previous successes in this area, I had a good idea of what needed to be done, and what it needed to look like,” says Perry. “Equally, my involvement with GIRI in helping to develop the leadership training meant I knew it was about creating the right behaviours and asking the right questions, and not about creating complex processes.”

Combining his experience of business level reporting and behavioural quality with GIRI's research, Perry developed the 'PowerBI' dashboard to drive visibility and ownership, and ran trials to prove effectiveness, inform the business case, and gain operational credibility for this significant change programme, embedding the project through engagement, education and training.

For Perry, the success of the project comes down to a few principles: a clear focus, ownership, and empowering the team to make decisions quickly, combined with an agile and flexible approach that facilitates frequent tweaking – ‘constructive tinkering’ as one member of his team describes it. “It’s about doing simple things well. We have taken the logic and cues from GIRI and turned this into an output that will transform the wider business and get people thinking differently.”

Language and messaging were vital to help shift the prevailing culture within the business from one of perceived blame to one that is learning-centric. Also important was clarity of information. The dashboard provides access to focused data sets across the business to support more informed decisions. Perry created clear processes, a step-by-step user guide, and communicated news to keep everyone informed of the project’s aims and progress.

“I already knew the what and the how, and bringing that together with the language of GIRI meant it was a really easy sell within Sisk. The technical work was of course challenging, but equally that has expanded into a fundamental tidal shift in the way we think and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been involved with GIRI.” 

Gerard Budge, business unit quality manager at Sisk, who nominated Perry for the award, said: “The project has transformed how we talk about error and improvement within Sisk, and would not have happened without Perry’s expertise, passion and ability to build collaborative relationships.”

Perry believes that winning the ICE Tom Barton Award will have a huge impact on what is essentially a behaviour-change programme within Sisk. “This isn’t easy to do. People are resistant to change. So the recognition that all that work we have done is best practice is a nice boost for the whole team and demonstrate that you don’t have to make things complicated to be effective. I am very proud to win this award.”

Gavin Ford from Costain wins 2022 Tom Barton Award

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