One Step At A Time

Last time I wrote about who would your “+1” be if you could bring someone not from AEC to DTS or even just engage with someone from outside our industry about what “Innovation” should like or at the very least what we might learn from other industries that have significantly embraced technology and software to improve their processes and outcomes.

This month as we lead up to the opening of registration I wanted to talk a little bit about culture. If you do a quick search about what is required to foster a culture of innovation, you’ll find a number of articles that talk about what it takes. Unfortunately, as I read through several and skimmed a few more I quickly realized that I have very little direct control over any of the aspects I was reading about, and many of them should (and need) be emphasized from executive leadership on down.

Should we just give up then; “oh I don’t work for a company that seems to really trust me” or “if something goes wrong, they’ll blame me” I don’t think so! As much as you could easily get depressed by taking the approach of I can’t effect change I think there are thinks that anyone could do (if you wanted to). For example, “thinking small” if you try to “do something really big” you are likely to fail, but are their small incremental things you can do that over time will add up? This is very much an “agile” approach to thinking about being innovative. The agile planning methodology encourages you to focus on the MVP or Minimum Viable Product. Now you might say well even an MVP seems insurmountable, but an MVP doesn’t have to be a finished thing, an MVP just needs to be something that is either useful or others can respond to. For instance, maybe you’d really like to have a master database of “X”, well before worrying about SQL and where you’re going to host it you can start out with, let me get the data I have organized in some Excel tables. Now you already have something that is more useful than what you had before!

As another example is being different in your own “group” (assuming you’re not all by yourself, and even then this could work). Our group has recently taken on using an Agile approach to managing ourselves. If you’ve ever looked at Agile is a bit of a process shift in terms of “managing” oneself (though arguably Agile just embodies a lot of common sense approaches to managing tasks and work). Regardless it’s different from many of the “traditional” management approaches we’re used to in AEC and if you come from an AEC background and not a software/technology background it is quite different. While our group was doing many things that lent themselves too Agile, the shift in this case is big, but it’s something we’re in control of. No one is telling us how we should manage ourselves, it’s the results that matter our outcomes, and we think changing how we manage ourselves will improve our outcomes and we may even learn something new about project management that we can pass on to our design teams (that sure would be a fundamental change for most in regards to managing an AEC project).

I think however, there is one crucial ingredient you need to have, something a company can’t give you (but they can promote or not) and something that I can’t provide you with either (except with my words) and that is PASSION. If you’ve lost your passion, if you’re not sure “why am I doing what I’m doing” then you’re probably not going to be innovative. If tough, you still have passion, but you’re feeling constrained, I do believe there is still opportunity to “do good” again maybe we actually aren’t being innovative in regard to the definition I used previously, but the point is to strive to reach that state. There is a lot that a Design Technologist can do to help firms improve, if you’re not truly being innovative, and if you try to think small and look for those little opportunities, you might find pretty quickly that you have effected some real change (without even knowing it).

Where would be a great place to share your experience with innovation and what you do to be successful at your job? DTS of course! Look for registration to open soon, and by all means please come with ideas, big and small on how you try to be different and try to be innovative.

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