Creating a culture of innovation
by Mark Brown
Creating a culture of innovation | For many in the construction industry ‘Innovation’ is just another fashionable buzz word that’s used at senior management level to show their clients how progressive they are. However, for the team at Mackenzie Construction this could not be any further from the truth. We have found that by focusing on Innovation we can create real and tangible benefits for our business, our clients and our supply chain. We can improve safety, increase our range of services, work collaboratively with others, reduce costs, improve productivity and bring added value for our clients. Our recent launch of Smart Surface is a prime example of this.
The construction industry is a fast-moving environment, where markets, materials and technology are always evolving. Civil Engineers may tell you that innovation is a challenge because “every job is different, and that they don’t have the time for innovation”. But herein lies the very breeding ground for great innovation. Every project is different, so we believe that every project should be looked on as a ‘problem to be solved’ and when you have a problem to solve, this is the perfect opportunity to seek out new ideas, technologies, materials and procedures which can bring a positive change to your working environment.
The real challenge faced by Engineers and Managers is creating the time for innovation.
Therefore, strong leadership is needed for new ideas to flourish. We need to ensure that the culture of innovation is at the very heart of our business and we make the time for this to happen. We hold regular innovation forums where all members of staff from every department are invited to attend and freely discuss new ideas and best practices in an open and relaxed environment. It’s vital that our staff are ‘invited to innovate’, made to feel welcome and value the contributions made no matter how big or small. Also, the bar needs to be set at achievable and accessible level for all, we are not expecting everyone to have new ideas that are going to net profits or prevent injury, but many small improvements can bring substantial benefits.
Once identified, potential innovations must be nurtured, and blockers removed to allow testing and development. It sounds like a cliché but sometimes we must ‘fail to succeed’, learn from our mistakes and gain valuable feedback which can be shared with the forum.
The success of any innovation should be measured so that the real benefits can be realised, and at this point the new ideas can now be fully implemented into the business. However, we don’t just stop there. We are committed to a programme of ongoing quality improvement across all areas of our business, including our clients and supply chains. Therefore, we ensure that we share as much of our success as possible through regular meetings, engagement forums and social media.
To date, Mackenzie Construction’s Innovation Strategy has brought many improvements to our clients. Aside from Smart Surface, we have also introduced a new internal tank lining material for clean water service reservoirs and promoted the use of ‘Easi Base’ Manhole Solutions and Flexitrace pipe inspection equipment. It has also allowed us to introduce new procedures for working in clean water environments (DOMS) and enabled us to highlight other potential areas of improvement within the business.
For Mackenzie Construction, working in close collaboration with Eco-Fast to nurture and launch Smart Surface into the market place has been a revelation! And why wouldn’t it be? The benefits of Smart Surface are clear for all to see, the environmental credentials, cost efficiency and turnaround of on-site installations will ensure this to be the first-choice solution for many of our clients.
So our innovation journey continues, and we have just embarked on a refreshed Quality Improvement Strategy company wide which has been met with a very positive response. We are also just about to launch (quite literally) a further Innovation, an underwater Remote Operate Vehicle, so watch this space!