There are a lot of changes and trends emerging in construction innovation. Three of those are:
- More workers in the field are chiming in about using technology and how implementation affects their work.
- There is a blurring of lines between blue-collar and white-collar careers.
- The theory of how technology and innovation are supposed to improve work lives is being put into practical use.
Voices from the field:
There are more people weighing in about actually using technology and innovations. They are providing input about how successful implementation goes when you are adopting a new tool. When a company is trying to find out if something is going to work to solve a problem, field workers’ feedback is instrumental in deciding what works and what doesn’t. They are often the first to see proof of problems being solved.
It’s useful to take time and incremental steps. Solving a problem using technology does not have to be a marathon; you can take your implementation one mile at a time. A process of change develops, and, through an iterative approach, eventually the problem is resolved.
Blurring of lines between blue-collar and white-collar:
Most people acknowledge there are subtle language differences that continue to damage the image of skilled trade careers – unsafe, dirty, dangerous, etc. But careers in the trades are significantly different than they were 50 years ago: they’re different than the trades of yore.
There is a new spin on the image of skilled trades in construction. Over time, trade apprenticeships have become an alternative to college. However, in the past they were the foundation to establishing a career, with college being the alternative. Today there are high tech jobs in the trades – essentially white-collar jobs in a blue-collar industry. Many layers have been added to the complicated world of the skilled trades.
Realistically, recruiting for the trades needs to begin before high school. By high school, most students have already formulated their career direction. The industry needs to unify on its message for middle school students or even younger. Working in the skilled trades can be a “work of art.”
Bringing the theory of tech and innovation into practical reality:
Construction is different across the US and around the world. It’s not better or worse just different. Construction leadership needs to take more time to think through identifying the problem technology is expected to solve. It may take more brain power, but it results in a more productive implementation. The model for transformation starts with the company’s day to day processes and operations. It’s important to reflect on how your company is unique. What are your layers of complexity? This is needed to support long-term change and growth.
It is critical to lead with empathy and use good communication skills. Take time to talk through a tech implementation. Explain what the company is trying to accomplish, then find common ground with the employees who will be affected by the changes. You can almost always find commonalities.
Tune in to episode 150 of Bridging the Gap Podcast to hear from our editor/producer Eric Daniel and myself share the highlights from the past year.