Collaborate to Move Forward and Grow
Your next big idea is likely not in your organization. That may be a little shocking, but the reality is many organizations, including construction companies, are so busy keeping up with the next deadline or groundbreaking to innovate on their own. I’m not saying we never have a spark within our walls that starts a fire, but innovation, ideation and creativity (most of the time) require a separate space in your work week.
At EV Construction, we have found that space by partnering in national cohort roundtables and collaborative groups. Through various roundtable groups, EV is currently leveraging the talent and experience of over 30 general contractors, construction managers and specialty trades from all over the US and Canada. These groups have been invaluable in times of challenges or deadlock in our company. So why should you consider these groups?
New Experiences and New Tools
Ours is a business where experience and expertise is rewarded with new contracts. Because of this, breaking into a new market or building type is difficult. A common (and dangerous) way to win a new building type is to be the least expensive…or in other words to “buy the job.” I think it goes without saying that this method is risky for the contractor and the project owner.
The other way to gain experience quickly is through education. EV Construction is not ashamed to say that we don’t always know everything, so we leverage our partners across the country to help us work through the challenges of a new construction type, material types or techniques. This collaboration is not always something as substantial as a new project type. Sometimes software, business tools or actual tools (we are builders at the end of the day) are shared between our groups for the benefit of all.
A Challenge Shared, is a Challenge Easier to Solve
The popular TV game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” showed us that at times we just need a lifeline to answer a tough question. Our team has at least 30 of these connections when we get stuck. Analyzing or struggling with an issue too long can cost our business money. Now and then, all you need is a small change in perspective or approach to unlock an innovation that wins work or adds value for your client.
EV has grown our national construction division significantly over the last decade. Managing projects in unfamiliar parts of the country comes with challenges and risk. New vendors, new permitting processes and new building conditions can all slow down our delivery. We have learned to ask for our partners’ insights and assistance when we travel outside of our area. We are careful of competitive boundaries and transparent about our intention in a market. We have learned that with a foundation of trust, formed in the regular roundtable meetings, our partners are more than willing to assist.
Finally, another benefit of roundtables and other similar groups is the protected time they offer. This time allows us to work “on” our business, not just “in” it. For me, the dedicated hour or two each month the collaboration affords is a welcome reprieve from the day-to-day challenges of construction. The conversations and connections that come from these groups helps reduce stress and refocuses attention on the most important things in your business.
In closing, this model is not new or exclusive to the construction industry; roundtables are organized and hosted by many industry and business groups every day. This message is about encouragement and a call to action. I believe partnerships and the sharing of ideas will strengthen the West Michigan construction industry, and a strong construction industry is good for the whole West Michigan economy.
Contributed by John Parker, Vice President of Project Development, EV Construction