Most companies in the building materials industry ask their customers what new product they need, instead of asking what are the new trends and environments you are designing for, and what special issues do you think you will encounter. This should drive your innovation. Apple didn’t ask consumers what technology they should build, they merely developed insights from how people engage with each other in the world, and then built technology to better enable these interactions. We’ve also heard most manufacturers say, “It takes us more than two years to design a new product,” or “We don’t want to give our competition a heads-up on what we are doing.”
The issue is that if your process is two years or longer, or if you’re too concerned with your competition — you are not leading, you are following (at best). Category leaders advance and push the industry to new and more relevant places by demonstrating thought and innovation leadership frequently and consistently. Industry and consumer expectations are changing more rapidly than ever before, so must our innovation in products and experiences we are creating. Two years out is a lifetime in today’s world. Leaders drive meaningful change to evolve their category and reap the financial benefits in both the short and long term. As a result, they can invest in more innovation resources.
All in all, unfortunately I saw a lot of sea of sameness at AIA, companies selling/promoting their products, with select pockets of companies positioning relevant solutions to the A/S/D community. There were a few leaders taking a dynamic approach to advance their category. That’s why leaders, like Pella and Echelon and Owens Corning stood out from the pack. Brands that truly lead their category will reap the benefits of their investments in innovation. And they will also create an organizational DNA to retain and recruit the type of employees that will continue to drive this culture.
Did you attend the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018? If so, share your thoughts on the show. We’d love to learn about your observations.