It is undeniable that innovation is flourishing all around us. From Google’s driverless car to forward-thinking companies like Uber and Airbnb, we are experiencing a generation of disruptive business models that would have seemed inconceivable 10 years ago. There is no doubt that the “Age of Innovation” is upon us. We live in an era in which almost everything in our lives is better, faster, and more efficient.
In reflecting upon our own industry, it’s terribly easy to beat ourselves up. In fact, even I was tempted to craft this blog entry in a manner that questioned “WHERE is ‘better, faster and more efficient’ in the homebuilding industry?” While there may be some truth in the realization that we are still using materials and practices that were developed in the 1930’s, or still exploring “innovations” that spawned two generations ago, a closer look reveals that there really have been stunning innovations in our industry.
Over the course of the last year, we have posted a collection of blog entries that have examined the innovative thinking that is budding in housing today. These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of where the industry is headed:
· Homes that replenish instead of deplete resources like water, energy and clean air;
· Homes that are self-aware and learn occupants’ behaviors;
· Homes that respond well and remain useful in the face of various and dramatic life stage and lifestyle changes;
· “Smart” homes that provide advances such as alarms triggering “away” settings for lighting and HVAC, smart thermostats, daylight triggered window shades, fingerprint enabled door locks, sensors that help us track activities of aging loved ones to ensure they’re up and about as usual, and a variety of apps for us to monitor and control things from a distance.
By looking at these ideas, it’s clear that innovation is our industry’s future. It’s a journey we should not only recognize and support, but welcome with enthusiasm, creativity, and guts. We need to speed up innovation in our industry to continue to find and adopt new building products and practices. We need innovation to help deliver high performance, yet affordable homes for millennials and other value-centric buyers. Let’s challenge ourselves, and challenge one another, to move our industry forward more rapidly. We must approach it in a holistic, systems thinking manner, as everything we do is intertwined and interconnected.
The key is to act, and act fast, to stay ahead. We’re all in… are you?