The urge to discover keeps businesses moving forward

Discovery is a foundational characteristic of entrepreneurship, a topic that gets a lot of ink this month with our coverage of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Awards.

For example, when Patrick Allin, chairman and CEO of Textura Corp. and an award winner in EY’s Technology category, was just a novice in the construction industry, he saw rampant inefficiencies. His cloud-based collaboration tool was met with criticism. But his persistence resulted in success, and his company is now public with a growing global footprint.

 

A better answer

Finding new ways to solve problems is something Chenn Zhou, of Purdue University Calumet, is perpetuating. The university’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS) was awarded a $480,000 federal grant that will help further its technology, which allows people to see how iron ore is turned into liquid metal inside a blast furnace, something that hadn’t been previously possible.

This advancement could have a significant impact on Indiana’s steel industry. As Zhou says, “The CIVS has worked with U.S. Steel Co. to improve the performance of a blast furnace by examining ways to inject pulverized coal, resulting in over $8.5 million in annual savings and 50 percent less downtime.”

Herman Aguinis, of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, has discovered that many businesses are perpetuating an outmoded way of thinking about their workforce.

This month, he’s sharing with us his widely published work on star performers in the workplace. According to Aguinis, 80 percent of the work in an organization is accomplished by 20 percent of the people — the star performers. Boosting the production of these employees by a small percentage can equal big gains.

“You need to create a system so you know what top performance means in the context of your business, how you measure it and identify who is achieving those levels,” he says. “Then you need to retain them, hire more of them and create systems so these people motivate others to be as good as they are. Following these steps systematically leads to business success.”

 

Introspection

Our regular columnist, David Harding, president and CEO of the HardingPoorman Group, talks this month about another kind of discovery: self-discovery.
He’s encouraging managers to lead by example. He says, “Look at your own advice with fresh eyes. What advice do you most frequently give? That which you hear yourself saying the most to others is probably advice you are not following yourself. It’s human nature.”

Lastly, this month’s issue includes another article with the theme of discovery. Our Uniquely Indianapolis feature highlights The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis where more than 1.25 million people come each year to learn and explore while bringing more than $73 million annually in direct economic value to Central Indiana.

 

Discovery is a life-long process. Much like businesses need to keep innovating to stay ahead of the competition, people accomplish much more when challenged by new ideas. My hope is that this month’s issue of Smart Business Indianapolis imparts you with knowledge you didn’t have before.