This year, Two-thousand eighteen has been a unique year for View Homes. As a production home builder of over 1000 homes a year, it is easy to get in routines and processes that become comfortable and stale. Pair that with a home building industry that typically measures innovation by decades in a world that lives with new technology monthly, and you are bound to find areas that need attention. We talk about the idea that Yahoo didn’t see Google coming, and there are disruptors in every industry wanting to change the way things work. With the realization that “our industry is frozen, we know that if we don’t do something about it, someone else will, and we will be left wondering what happened”. With all this in mind, View Homes decided to start its innovation journey.
In January of 2018, we made the decision to partner with Cooper Strategic, a team that advises some of the world’s best companies such as Apple, 3M, and GM, to help us break out of our comfort zone and create a culture of innovation. One of the first questions posed to us was, “if you had to be the company that put View Homes out of business, what would it look like?” The entire concept of innovation quickly became a difficult idea to wrestle with. From the onset we pictured innovation as revolutionizing the building industry, creating breakthroughs that would alter the course of humanity forever, but realized that innovation starts with small changes that lead to bigger breakthroughs.
One of the first pivotal changes we made was the adoption of an Idea Bank as a company. We partnered with Crowdicity, who provided their online idea management platform to be the sounding board for our employees. An Idea Bank would be the perfect igniter for our company to begin fostering an innovative mindset. Employees had a place where they could step out and step across departments and divisions to share and discuss ideas on how we as a whole can improve. We know there is a deep reservoir of hidden potential in the ideas of our employees and we wanted a platform that would help extract this.
Challenges to different areas were posed, whether it was looking for ideas on product advancements, current processes, or trade relations, the sky was the limit on what was on the table to discuss. Once ideas started flowing in, a trade review council was formed whose primary responsibility is to meet on Fridays and review ideas. This review process allows ideas to be funnelled through the proper course of action. For example, ideas that appear to have immediate potential are set apart for an Elite Team. The Elite Team, a team of no more than four employees, takes on the task of identifying the feasibility and execution of the idea. Ideas that may not have immediate feasibility but do have future potential are labelled accordingly and ‘deposited’ in our Idea Bank to be ‘withdrawn’ at a later time.
Another component on our Idea Bank is our weekly check-ins. We have developed a short weekly survey that each employee is required to fill out that discusses their energy levels, focus, and improvements for the week. This is a method to invoke self-awareness for each employee to look at what they do and find a way to do it better.
The biggest impact of our Idea Bank, through Crowdicity’s tools, is its ability to foster company engagement. We have utilized the platform’s blogging section to announce numerous company endeavours. Whether it is shout-outs of employee or department achievements, community service projects, monthly newsletters, or podcasts, all of these play a pivotal role in keeping our company informed and creating a reason for our employees to come back to the platform. Couple this with the platform’s gamification ability and now you really have some tools to foster interaction. We utilize badges and points to reward our employees with prizes and gift cards to encourage spending time on the platform. We actually even tied in gifts at our company Christmas party to reflect the top contributors this past year on the platform.
Engagement is the key to success when it comes to our Idea Bank. We know the more people we can encourage to come out of their shell and share their thoughts and ideas the better we will be as a company. This is no easy task though, as we continue to figure out new and exciting ways to create excitement around our Idea Bank. We have learned that we must keep things new and fresh whether that means a new monthly idea challenge or weekly updates through the blog. It is also imperative that we cultivate an environment where the employees know that their ideas are being seen. While not every idea is going to be implemented employees know that their ideas are being looked at and not ending up in a black hole. Ultimately, our employees want to come to their Idea Bank where content is fresh and engaging and their voices are heard. It is our role to help facilitate this.
The innovation journey for View Homes is still young and growing. Crowdicity has allowed us to organize the ideas and thoughts from our employees and propel our efforts towards a new era in the home building industry. We know the road is long and there are many more steps to take to get to where we want to be, but we are well on our way and look forward to the challenges and innovation that will come from this journey.