That is, of course a matter of perspective. In the world of innovative technology, there are many compelling arguments to adopt the newest materials with claims of dramatically improving the building output. This side of the equation often has a lot of entrepreneurs and passionate advocates. The insulating concrete form (ICF) world is full of such evangelists, who have been instrumental in winning over the early adopters, but just can’t seem to cross the chasm and grow the mainstream market.
However, if you are sitting in the chair attached to the purse strings of the project, fine-tuning the known and proven might seem more secure, even if it has been “proven” problems – but known ones. Construction is all about risk management.
How does one help manage the A/E/C risk? Typically innovative product companies will point to the manufacturing QC, ICC-ES approvals, and product testing. That’s good, but it’s really just the calling card to get in the door. The greater risk is of upsetting the existing process of construction – the design, the estimating, the critical path, the product integration. You want the job? Help manage the risk.
Since we mentioned ICFs, let’s take a look at the example of what really happened in Kentucky. One ICF company found a way to cross the great divide of market adoption by engaging a specific sector - schools which needed fire and tornado protection. They got to know the players, learned about their needs, and provided a 100% complete package for the A/E/C managment team. And, they did NOT forget about the job once the product was shipped, but carefully massaged the project to a successful completion, forging a strong network along the way. In other words, they managed the risk throughout the whole process. And when the next school came up for bid, the ICF method was now “known and proven.” That begat more schools (target market segment), and once the infrastructure of contractors was solid, this expanded to other types of buildings (new applications). The rest is history.
Change can happen, one project at a time.
Moore, G.A. (2004). Inside the Tornado: Strategies for Developing, Leveraging, and Surviving Hypergrowth Markets. Collins Business Essentials.
HUD (2010). New Product Adoption in Housing : Guide for manufacturers . U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research , prepared by Liza Bowles Newport Partners LLC Davidsonville, MD.