Sage Advice

Innovation emerges from constraints

The best innovation happens when you have constraints. That’s according to Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss and Company. Last week I listened to him speak at the Edison Awards and was impressed with how he is fostering a culture of innovation within his company—much of it centered on addressing some hefty environmental issues.

One of Levi’s innovations started with this revealing statistic: 95% of our water footprint is from the food, energy, and products we use every day. So Levi’s set out to help solve that problem close to home by creating a different approach to the water-intensive finishing process of its popular jeans. The result is the Levi’s® Water<Less ™ collection, which uses 96% less water and to date has saved over 172 million liters of water. Cool stuff!

So what does this have to do with construction besides the fact that many of us in the industry like a good pair of comfortable jeans? In the daily flurry of keeping construction jobs moving and businesses running, construction professionals can easily forget about innovation. That in itself is a major constraint. How can you promote innovation within your organization? Here are a few common themes I heard from innovators at the Edison Awards:

Engage your team

Let them know what problems your company faces, the goals you are trying to achieve, and your priorities. Then challenge them to come up with solutions.

Encourage employees to explore new ideas

Actively listen to their different perspectives and give them the permission and support to try something new.

Allow your innovators to fail

Sometimes it will take several unsuccessful trys before achieving a breakthrough success. The key is learning from each failure.

Give your team the time to innovate

Great ideas are useless if employees aren’t given the time to pursue them.

Reach out to future innovators

Encourage your employees to share their passion for innovation with students in your local schools. This is a true long-term strategy that will attract future employees as well as motivate and retain your current team members.

Innovators encounter many obstacles. They are often told, “It can’t be done.” From what I saw at the Edison Awards, that statement serves as the perfect incubator for innovation.

How do you foster innovation in your company?

About Sage Construction and Real Estate

Sage was honored to receive a silver Edison award for our educational Job Ready program designed to help construction professionals think boldly and act decisively. Check out our free Job Ready materials for yourself.

About Deb

Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer and marketer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. She often writes about technology and best practices and is passionate about helping contractors and real estate professionals achieve their business goals.


Nexus: G-WEBCD3