How do you transition your culture from having a single innovation champion to having everybody dedicated to making innovation happen?

One of the most important things is to get others involved in the decision-making process. Innovation cannot be as successful when each team operates in a silo. You need to plant seeds and cultivate them, getting others to catch the innovation vision.

Innovation teams serve a valuable function. However, it’s important to democratize innovation. Rather that leaving it to a specific team, everybody should be empowered to seek and find even small improvements in the way things work. The best ideas for improvements can rise to the top when you get perspectives from all vantage points. When you have someone interested in adopting a new tech tool, they usually see the benefits from their vantage point.

A superintendent looks at a project in a different way than a project manager or a coordinator. You need these different perspectives, including how the tech will be used in the field. Looping in people for their feedback helps with choosing the right technology and also in implementing it. When people are involved in a process, they’re much more likely to support it and make it work.

Even a small success can lead to an increased willingness on everyone’s part to innovate. Once you solve a problem for a superintendent or project manager, they’ll be coming back for more.

You also need executive buy in. They control the money. While any tech adoption fares better when started at the grassroots level, the messaging needs to be supported at the top levels of the company.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but to have value, technology tools need to get used. If the users don’t adopt your new tech, you’re not going to realize the value of the tool. Of course, knowing that and making it happen are two different things.

Adoption is the greatest challenge to implementing new technology. The lack of tech adoption can happen because:

  • It doesn’t work as promised.
  • Staff are resistant to change or afraid to break it.
  • It takes too long to learn.
  • It’s not easy enough to use.

Training the users can eliminate several of these roadblocks. That training needs to be timed so it can be used right away. Otherwise, trainees will forget much of what they learned.  

Make sure you continue to support and encourage your tech champion(s). They can help ensure your new tech gets used and the implementation is successful.

In construction, innovation teams do a good job of relating to the rest of the company. They don’t have to be permanent fixtures. People can cycle in and out of an innovation team. A person may serve their allotted time on the team and then be replaced by another person, who is later replaced by someone else. This rotation can achieve a valuable exchange of ideas – a sort of cross pollination.

When you move on to the next project, your team will retain some lessons learned, while new ideas will be borne out of your team’s experiences.

Tune in to episode 136 of Bridging the Gap podcast to hear the discussion around the culture of innovation.


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