Innovation is an everyday topic at DPR Construction. The commercial contractor, ranked #15 on ENR’s Top 400 list, is continually focused on creating new ways to work more efficiently and deliver value to customers and projects. “Everyone is empowered to try new things,” says Kaushal Diwan, director of Innovation. Diwan’s team is charged with helping get those new ideas to the next level, providing guidance on testing, funding and collaborative resources.
“In the construction industry we focus a lot on avoiding risk and there is a fear of failure,” says Diwan. “At DPR we take the approach that, when it comes to trying new tech tools, it’s okay to fail, and that we need to continue to try new things.” Diwan believes that as employees see success in the form of improved processes and documented return on investment, they begin to understand the why and how of innovation.
An internal platform called “The Idea Mill” allows ideas to be shared across the organization. Cross collaboration between divisions and disciplines helps to refine and improve ideas. When evaluating ideas to be considered for testing, Diwan’s group goes through what he calls a “simple framework” process. “In this stage, we look at what we’re trying to solve, how we’re going to test, and what metrics we’re going to track,” says Diwan. The innovation team asks, “By implementing this tool are we eliminating a wasteful process? By implementing this tool are we creating a new problem that didn’t exist before?” The next step is a pilot project, where the idea will be tried on a limited basis to see if it performs as expected. Depending on the results of the pilot project, the group will decide to adopt the project at the enterprise level, keep trying, or abandon the project altogether.
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