Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Innovation is a race.
The construction industry is in the midst of an innovation race. As they say in the lottery, many will enter; few will win. But also like the lottery, the prize is a doozy: A share of the estimated $265 Billion in annual profits waiting to be released by innovation.*
Reflective of the fragmented nature of the industry, there are many different kinds and levels of participation in this innovation competition. In my 20 years in construction and building products, I've seen many examples of each:
The Contenders: These athletes have trained hard and prepared for this contest. They're in shape, focused and ready when the starting gun sounds. They've memorized the route, they're outfitted with the best equipment available, and they know the competition. They're in it to win it.
The Misdirected: They think they're winning, but they're actually running in the wrong direction. They're very pleased with their progress and the apparent absence of competition around them. Until they end up lost and exhausted on some abandoned road, wondering where they went wrong.
The Complacent: Some are loping along, believing they're just out for a leisurely jog. They're not aware they're even in a race, watching with confusion as everyone else zips past them.
The Risk-Averse: Others are just jogging in place, watching from the starting line, afraid of pulling a hamstring. They would have liked to get in on the excitement, but they fear failure, so they don't dare compete.
The Penny Pinchers: Still others are on the sidelines because they didn't want to pop for the entry fee. They've surveyed the other runners and decided that their chances of competing are too slim, so they'd be better off saving the money. Or maybe buying a funnel cake with it.
The Blissfully Ignorant: These folks are still in their bathrobes, not even realizing there's a race going on. They notice the crowds, hear the cheering and catch glimpses of the runners speeding by, but it all seems irrelevant to them, so they just grab their newspaper and head back into the house.
I'm sure you know some examples of each of these types as well. Which type describes your firm? Are you grinding with the leaders, or reading the funny papers? Wherever you're at right now, it's not too late to join the race. There's still time to compete for the prize, if you're willing to make up some ground.
But don't wait too long; this is the final qualifying race. The top finishers will move on to the finals of Construction 4.0 within this decade, and reap their share of the $265 Billion profit pot. Everyone else will be watching from the sidelines.
Whether you'll still be in the running in 5 years all depends on how you run the innovation race going on right now.
* Source: McKinsey & Co.