Innovation isn’t something you can create just to be innovative. In fact it’s the other way around. Innovation creates itself. Innovation is a solution. Seeking to make something better requires focusing on something that already works, something that is already a solution. True innovation begins when there is a critical problem that does not yet have a solution. Take for example our porch railings. A few years ago, these didn’t exist and now we have an entire online store with porch panels that have innovative styling, are made of innovative materials, and are sold nationwide. We didn’t start by trying to make a better white picket railing and we didn’t start by trying to build an online store.
Here’s how it began. One of our local Nashville Porch Company clients was looking for something in a railing that was just a little bit different. This led to some sketching. The sketches were not hindered by thoughts of design constraints and construction challenges. They were inspired by the goal to solve a small request by a single customer. After coming up with a design we liked, we realized that the traditional railing material, wood, would not accommodate the intricacies of the design. After some hunting, we identified PVC. PVC could not only handle the design intricacies but also provided the added benefit of being low maintenance. The answered challenge became the innovation.
We thank innovation, first, to solving problems. At the Porch Company, we welcome and embrace problems and unanswered challenges.Some of our innovations have become a new business for us. Yet other solutions are intended to live in the background, intended to be unseen. A good example of this is our lumber sorter. Porch construction requires wood and other materials in all shapes and sizes. Wood likes to be dry. Backyards like to be unfettered and unblemished. In historical construction, a gigantic load of different wood pieces are delivered to a backyard. They take up space, look messy, often get wet by laying on the grass, and cause disturbances to the grass and landscaping. This further creates the problem of slowing the construction process forcing the carpenters to dig and weed through materials to find the desired pieces. We designed an a-frame lumber sorter to solve all of these problems. We deliver the lumber sorter at the beginning of each project and take it away before the client sees the final project. But we consider this a critical innovation in our business.
In 2016, one of our goals is to identify other unanswered problems and work to solve them. Contrary to the title above, this is not because we are problem seekers, it is because we are innovation seekers inspired by the way innovation has guided, built, fueled and inspired our business at The Porch Company. We look to this new year with excitement about great new products that are yet undiscovered. We look forward to unanswered problems and difficult challenges and to the innovative solutions they will inspire. Don’t accept the status quo. Challenge it. Be creative. Innovate!