The most successful small and medium-sized construction companies (loosely defined as less than 500 employees) posses a sense of creativity. And you can see it in many facets of the business.
It's going to start with the Owner, or a high-ranking manager (President, VP, etc). Like most other traits we're going to cover, creativity is going to flow from the top down. You'll start noticing a company's ability to think outside the box during the pre-bid phase and it will continue right into the finished product. During pre-bid, you'll notice some companies asking probing questions about schedule, contract clauses and scope. And I'm not talking about asking for clarification or trying to get out of things. I'm talking about tweaking, for example, a schedule. Getting creative with a schedule can influence everything from manpower to equipment to material deliveries. It could mean the difference in buying all the material at once, at a lower rate, but negotiating a deal for stockpiling with the GC.
Once you step foot onto the job site, you'll see these companies being innovative with how they do the work. They're going to look at access points and staging locations. They're going to get a 48" drill bit so they don't have to bend over and waste time getting fatigued quicker. They're going to use technology to their advantage to eliminate rework, take pictures and manage updated drawings sets.
These are they guys that are going to search for the win-win-win scenario by thinking outside the box.
The construction industry has been ripe for creative disruption. There's something about the industry that makes us feel set in our ways. The companies that have a growing bottom line are the ones quietly and calmly disrupting the industry. If you're interested in learning about what's happening in the industry on a massive scale, head over to the ConAppGuru's blog or check out Construction Dive - I'm always pleasantly surprised at what I see happening in the construction world.
Oh yeah - and the not-so-good companies. What are they up to? They're the ones who refuse to buy cell phones and iPads. They're the ones printing drawings and building from outdated specs. Find a way to rise above. If you're a sub that's resting on your laurels - it's time to step it up. If you're a Prime looking for a good partner for your project, ask some questions (what was the last innovative installation method your team used? What technology do you use on a daily basis?).
If you're looking for way to up the ante on construction creativity and innovation, you can start with a post we did on 5 Software Tools You Can Start Using Right Now. That's a good place to start. After that, find ways to create and innovative culture and do some creative brainstorming.