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Innovation Indoctrination

ADDING CREATIVITY TO THE COMPANY PLAYBOOK
BY STEVE TYINK
VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS INNOVATION
MIRON CONSTRUCTION

Innovation in the workplace stems from the environment in which you work. When the office setting allows for collaboration, it’s easier for employees to come up with solutions to problems and formulate new ideas. This collaboration is one of the keys to success, especially when it comes to the construction industry. All contractors should add a little innovation to their company playbook.

Building owners are pursuing general contractors and architects who can bring new, innovative ideas to the table whenever the time comes for constructing or renovating a building. So how are these new ideas formulated time and time again? Each project has unique drivers or attributes that are important to the owner. These may include finding ways to increase market share or profitability, determining more efficient operating methods, enhancing the organization’s reputation in the marketplace or finding ways to attract and retain talent. Rather than being viewed as just a structure, the building can actually serve as a strategic competitive weapon of differentiation. In other words, like product or service innovation, it can serve as another tool in the arsenal to connect with and attach customers to the brand.

Here are some tips on how to help employees become more innovative in the workplace:

  • Make a point to encourage creativity as part of professional development. Formulating “outside-the-box” ideas can be incorporated into each level of an employee’s job description. At an entry level, for example, employees should be thinking of ways to more efficiently carry out their day-to-day activities. At higher levels, employees will move into formulating new and different ideas to take to clients and to their employers.
  • Award employees for coming up with new ideas. If a team member comes up with an innovative solution to one of your company’s biggest reoccurring problems, reward him or her with a free lunch, a half-day of vacation or another incentive. These rewards will encourage more creative thinking, from everyone, at every level.
  • Invite employees to take a step back from day-to-day activities and research industry trends. Encourage them to think of new ways to apply them to different projects. The key here is finding benchmark organizations outside of your own industry. In the past, business models tended to look ‘outside in’ or at the competition for ideas. You know the old saying, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” By holding a brainstorming session with your employees, different ideas will surface, and you never know what might formulate as a result. It goes back to collaboration and the idea that no idea is a bad idea.
  • Miron Construction, an AGC of Wisconsin and AGC of Greater Milwaukee member, pushes the idea envelope by understanding what is important to the customer. How do you want to connect with your staff and customers? What is the cause, belief and truth of the company that sets your organization apart from the rest? How can the building help bring those differentiators to life? Think of it this way: if you are going to give a prospective employee or customer a tour of the new building, how should it go? What would you show them that your competitors couldn’t?

Encouraging innovation in the workplace can help produce high-quality results for the company or client, and it can also help produce well-rounded employees who aren’t afraid to embrace new ideas, new technologies or new projects.