Currently Reading

Killing Home Building's Sacred Cows

Advertisement
Innovation

Killing Home Building's Sacred Cows

The willingness to innovate and forge a new path requires a fundamental shift in mindset


November 28, 2018
Cows in grassy field
This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Pro Builder.

I’m a baseball fan. More than any other sport, it requires a remarkable range of physical skills, extreme mental toughness, and strategy applied on every pitch. You have to think, but also hit a major-league curveball.

And while I far prefer a 2-1 pitcher’s duel to a 12-9 slugfest, I’m not one of those baseball purists. I watched Moneyball and its antithesis, Trouble With the Curve, and liked the former better. Give me the shift and starting relievers, whatever it takes to win within the rules. 

But it wasn’t an easy road. Innovation in the form of data-driven roster moves and in-game strategy was met with vehement, almost violent, opposition by baseball purists when it was introduced in the early 2000s. It sparked fear and fear-mongering; it was an affront to the “integrity of the game” and all its sacred cows. It would not, could not, work. 

In truth, it was simple evolution, an “adapt-or-die” strategy initiated by low-payroll teams to remain competitive on the field in the face of skyrocketing player salaries, increasingly impatient fans, and unbalanced revenues among clubs. And now, every team does it. Because it works. 

Like baseball a few decades ago, the housing industry suffers from its own sacred cows holding it back from evolving into its next iteration—whatever that is. Archaic land-use regulations and density rules, wasteful and risk-laden production processes, uninspired land planning and home designs, and gut-driven decisions about what buyers want. 

Whether it’s in baseball or housing, it’s dangerous to say “We’ve always done it this way,” as first pointed out in the 1970s by computer science pioneer Grace Hopper and, more recently, at the Housing Giants Leadership Conference by architect Dan Swift, CEO of Des Moines-based BSB Design.

Swift, among others in the industry who swat at sacred cows, understands that the willingness to innovate and forge a new path requires a fundamental shift in mindset; mere platitudes and side-programs won’t cut it. It needs to be your DNA, not just a pair in the strand. 

There are a few Billy Beanes in the housing industry (Swift being one of them) working to effect real change to win an antiquated game. But their message, like sabermetrics in baseball, is too often met with resistance and reliance on old-school approaches—the way we’ve always done it. 

As you prepare for an inevitable industry downturn, consider taking a step back to call out your sacred cows and think about killing them off … before they do it to you.

 

 

Written By
Editorial Director

Rich Binsacca is editorial director of Pro Builder Media, Custom Builder, and PRODUCTS. He has reported and written about all aspects of the housing industry since 1987 and most recently was editor-in-chief of Pro Builder Media. [email protected]

 

Related Stories

Business Management

Hedging Your Bets Against a Downturn … Now?

Why home builders shouldn't wait to seek out and establish new revenue sources and profit centers

Building Materials

A Look at Lumber Prices From the Supply Side

An LBM insider tells the story of what factors led to record-breaking lumber prices during a global pandemic

Innovation

Tech and Home Building: Garbage in, Garbage Out

Why do we see home builders making the same mistakes with technology time and again? 

Advertisement
Advertisement

More in Category




Advertisement
Advertisement

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.


Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Subscribe
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.