The Moon Shot Approach

In Richmond, Va., I met a remodeler who told me about his plan for a new way of designing and building room additions. The company’s goal, he said, was to create a process by which one- or two-story room additions could be designed and built in 30 days. He was not talking about sunrooms. These additions were to be scalable and customized — the real deal — family living space on the bottom and a bedroom on top.

As the conversation progressed it became clear to me that he and his team were really on to something. They had developed a new foundation system that is precast and locked in place on-site. They had painstakingly built a “spec” addition inside a huge warehouse and carefully analyzed the building process in order to find ways to gain efficiencies. Their plan is to disassemble it and re-build it on-site for one of their clients.

Meanwhile, the normal course of remodeling activity for this high-end design/build firm proceeds separately on a different track. If they can manage to pull the room addition idea off in their home town of Richmond, where lovely but cramped antebellum houses mix with others built in the 20th century, the team at Grace Street Home Additions think they might just have the chance to bring the process to other markets. Talk about a guiding vision: If ever there was a grand goal that infuses the company with a strong sense of purpose, this was it.

As is always the case with any ambitious plan, it comes with attendant risk. If they ultimately cannot deliver on their 30-day addition goal, will it hurt morale to the extent that the firm may see valued team members go their separate ways? Of course.

More than likely however, the firm will thrive as a result of its effort to achieve an ambitious goal, even if it doesn’t quite work out as they plan. These are unintended positive consequences. First, the company is getting a lot of very favorable press attention in Richmond. (The remodeler, Scott Ukrop, handed me a color copy of a full-page article in the Richmond Post Dispatch that had been written about the company and its 30-day room addition goal.) This will undoubtedly translate to a greater flow of leads. By being seen as innovators, the company will project a very positive image to their community and thereby attract referrals, repeat business and top local talent as partners and associates.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, a team that aims for the proverbial Moon Shot, tends to continually improve as a company as well as individual professionals. There is certainly a lesson there for all of us. Look at your team. Are the clock punchers still punching the clock, or are the challenges of the current market pushing them to work harder and be more creative? If you and your team are not pushing to innovate and improve, you will likely find it hard to achieve your business goals this year and beyond.