April 3, 2019 Jody Seubert
Excellerate: Challenging the Status Quo
Evolutionary Innovation is based on the idea that small evolutionary changes and improvements, practiced over time, can achieve revolutionary results. Over my last 24 years working in the industry, I have seen numerous evolutionary changes in the prefabrication process. In the beginning, prefab consisted of sliding some tables together and building things the same as we did in the field, but over the years we have made major changes to our model, positively impacting our business.
We don’t just call our manufacturing process prefab, because we feel we have much more to offer. Our Excellerate model is based on a cellular manufacturing process, in which work stations and equipment are arranged in a sequence that supports a smooth flow of materials and components through the production process with minimal transport or delay. Cellular manufacturing aims to move products through the manufacturing process one piece at a time, at a rate determined by customer needs. It can also provide us with the flexibility to vary assembly type or features on the production line in response to specific project demands.
The secret sauce to any of our processes is that if someone thinks they have a better solution to anything we do, they are highly encouraged to report it through a simple process improvement form. We vet the improvement, discuss a plan of action, test (if necessary), and execute the change. Because the people doing the work aren’t afraid to speak up, we average up to two process improvements per week.
Most educational systems and work environments teach that good performance means avoiding failure and not making mistakes. This is problematic, because failure is an inescapable part of innovation and experimentation. At Excellerate, we know that innovation requires the willingness to fail and learn from each and every failure along the way.
How did we get here? We have a structured way of energizing and enabling employees to innovate, and because of this, over time we have been able to consistently make improvements in our processes and offerings. We challenge the status quo every single day and build our future on the successes of those who have paved the way before us – to coin a phrase by Sir Isaac Newton, on the shoulders of Giants. How does your company support innovation?