Over the last few weeks, I’ve had multiple conversations on the merits of keeping things stable and “humming along” verses taking chances and experimenting in hopes of improving. Almost every undertaking, from business and sports to education, has built in trade offs that make these choices difficult. If we aren’t intentional about our decisions, we may let stability take over and ultimately “leave it alone.” Or, we get so frustrated that we have to try something. Yet, There is a place in between – continuous improvement.
I believe the key to continuous improvement, and staying on top of your game, is making small, informed, intentional experiments. Every day, assess what needs to improve and try one small thing to make it better. This can happen in almost every work group in the enterprise. Expect something to happen (scientists call it a hypothesis) and at the end of the day, decide if what we tried is something to keep doing or if it didn’t work, ask why. You and the crew are now well equipped to leverage the new knowledge and design tomorrow’s experiment. As you might imagine, this takes some leadership to make happen.
We have found that the people closest to the work have a huge amount of insight on what they should try and where the big gains can come from. This kind of experimentation can both engage teams and make them top shelf performers over time! People like to learn and they like to win. Sure, the old stuff is safe but that’s based on a BIG assumption, that the world isn’t changing. That’s a dangerous assumption because it is changing and at an increasing rate every day. Disruption of industries is more pronounced today than anytime in history. And our AEC industry is ripe for disruption.
Given the risks, I think the wisest position, is to equip and empower all our teams to be great experimenters. After that, we need to enable group learning where both the company, and possibly the world, can benefit from the new knowledge being created every day.
Come along with us! At Interstates, one of the reasons we get up in the morning is to pursue a better way. This is just one way we make this happen. What does your next experiment need to be about?
Dave Crumrine, Interstates Construction President