Clay Harrison, Continuous Improvement, Events, Lean Construction, Technology

A Recap of the AGC’s 100th National Convention in Denver

April 16, 2019

By Clay Harrison

I spent the first week of April at the AGC’s 100th National Convention in Denver. The presentations were diverse and captivating, but now that I’ve had time to digest I’ve noticed that the content that resonated with me most was centered on three of my favorite topics: People, Lean, and Technology.

Brent Darnell’s presentation, “How Smart People Build Collaborative Teams,” explained how Emotional Intelligence (EI) is key. The typical construction manager’s profile for EI measures way above the mean on Assertiveness and Independence, and far below the mean on Emotional Expression, Interpersonal Relationships, and Empathy. (You can see how this is not a great profile for working in a team environment.) Brent also touched on the neuroscience behind EI and how stress can exacerbate these predispositions. He presented his process for building high performing teams, what he calls “connEx,” which includes emphases on stress, nutrition, sleep, and exercise.

Shawn Achor is one of the world’s leading experts on happiness, success, and potential, and he’s also one of my favorite authors. I was thrilled to see he was scheduled to give the keynote address at the Willis Towers Watson Construction Safety Excellence Awards, and his speech followed a similar thread. Shawn dove into the neuroscience behind happiness and how we can train our brains to look for the potential around us. This shift towards positive thinking and focusing on happiness instead of success can have a huge impact on our teams. Shawn has written several books, and if you haven’t read The Happiness Advantage or Big Potential, I’d really like to encourage you to check them out.

Finally, our own COO, Keyan Zandy, gave a great presentation on how Lean philosophies and tools have influenced our firm and shaped the way we solve problems, which often involves technology. Keyan shared three stories: the first explained our development of a crisis management app, called Smart Safety; the second described our use of StructionSite and 360-degree photography to document construction progress; and the third chronicled he we’re utilizing customized Power BI dashboards to track KPIs across multiple software platforms. All of these stories illustrated how rapidly technology is changing our industry, and how important a cultural mindset of Continuous Improvement can be towards staying nimble through this technological evolution while growing a company.

It’s hard to carve out time like this to “unplug” from the office and immerse yourself in an environment of ideas, but I think it’s important to make the room for it in my schedule. There’s something restorative and powerful about participating in this kind of information exchange, not to mention coming back to work fueled with fresh perspectives and new concepts to try out. If you weren’t able to attend the convention this year, I hope to see you in Las Vegas next March for the next one.