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Karins: Investing In Innovation

Innovation is in the DNA of our engineering practice and our vision for the future. We are happy to announce the successful launch of a new initiative created in collaboration with branding and strategy firm, Studio BC/C called The Karins Way Program. 

In this program 3 diverse teams ideate, prototype and test new approaches to delivering engineering integrity in 3 key practice areas, and partner with company leadership to refine and implement new processes across the company. 

We recently spoke with team facilitator Aaron Smith from the Sarasota office about the big picture thinking in the innovation process and using data to improve the client experience at Karins.

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Not every team started the program was an abundance of ideas. How did you get the creative juices flowing?

I think it was one of those things where once I started showing it to the people on the first day, I could sense the hesitation. But by the time we got to the end of it and started the second round it clicked and all of a sudden there was all kinds of interaction. Learning the innovation process and new techniques made the last two sessions go super smooth. Ideas were flowing and things were going off the charts! It was great so see everyone really start to open up to the process.


What’s the mindset shift that this process made people get into?

I would say more big picture thinking. I know all the people in my group, but I've only worked with probably half the people because of them being in different offices. For the most part, with the people that I know, even the engineers, they aren't thinking so many steps ahead when it comes to innovative ideas outside the engineering product. I'm very methodical, and this process asks us to question how our ideas effect other jobs, to look at the effort vs. impact of solutions, it’s about seeing the big picture.


How did testing effect the prototypes and to what extent did you test new iterations?

Getting feedback for the core members from the testing team went really well. The core team members met with the testers, went through their prototypes and provided really good feedback, both positive and negative. Several of the prototypes we had went through two and three rounds of testing, but the learning was invaluable for the final products we presented.


What kind of results would you like to see come out of your team’s work?

We're being involved as the workers, and this is supposed to make our day to day better. With the survey we developed as a solution, even get getting good and bad client feedback, that's still going to help us at the end of the day. I’d like to see that implemented in such a way that the different offices can easily pick up whatever is in the feedback so we can change as a company and make our services better.


How will your team’s idea for a client survey benefit the clients experience?

We will learn from the trends we see in the feedback. When we start gathering that information and giving it to a centralized hub, we will start to really have some metrics behind things to more deeply understand our client experience. There are many aspects that go into the client experience. It’s the documents, it's what happens on site, it's the intake, the close out communication, it’s the admins, project managers, engineers and people from different levels of seniority and different roles in the company. I’d love to see a more holistic perspective on our services and the way we provide them.


What would you say your definition of engineering integrity is after going through this program?

That's a tough one because obviously there’s the engineering side of things, but what some people may not realize because, unlike me, they may not have to deal with the volume of clients, contractors and trying to make people happy, is that it’s not just the products you put out there, but it's the communication that you put out there. It's the relationship you put out there. It’s all those little things that make the integrity of the engineering of a given project. You could be the best engineer in the world, but if you're not willing to work with the client when there's a problem or to reach out to them to see how things are going, then you've missed the totality of the engineering integrity.