Unleashing Urgency: Lessons from Eradicating Polio

Salk’s Quest for a Safe Solution

Back in 1947, Jonas Salk started working on polio research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. While other scientists were going after live-virus vaccines, Salk focused on creating a killed-virus vaccine that would be safer with fewer side effects.

At the time, polio was a significant public health concern, with over 58,000 cases reported in the United States in 1952 alone, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths and 21,000 cases of paralysis.

Working Tirelessly Towards Progress: A Race Against Time

Salk and his team understood the urgency of their mission. They didn’t mess around when it came to their research. Day after day, they spent long hours in the lab, often working late into the night and sacrificing weekends to make headway in pursuing a vaccine.

They knew that every moment counted for saving lives and preventing the spread of polio.

Their relentless dedication and laser-focused determination paid off in just a few years. By 1952, Salk and his team had developed a promising killed-virus vaccine that was ready for testing on human subjects.

In 1954, they launched the largest clinical trial in history, involving nearly 2 million children across the United States.

Adapting to a Shifting Economy: The New Normal for Construction

The economy is shifting, and the days of easy work are gone. After the downturn of 2008-2009, the construction industry experienced steady growth, with the total construction spending in the United States increasing by over 50% from 2010 to 2020.

This period of prosperity made it easier for companies to thrive without necessarily having to be at the top of their game.

However, the construction landscape has become more competitive as we face new economic challenges and uncertainties. Like Salk’s pursuit of a polio vaccine, you need to embrace urgency to stay ahead in the game.

In 1954, they launched the largest clinical trial in history, involving nearly 2 million children across the United States.

Let’s take a look at urgency in the following areas:

  1. Get Work, Build Work, Get Paid
  2. Team Dynamics
  3. Customer Service.

Displaying Urgency in Practice: Three Key Phases

Urgency is that feeling that makes you act fast and effectively, cutting through obstacles and solving problems.

How do you bring urgency into your construction work?

The “Get Work” Phase

Applying urgency when looking for new projects is vital. Your business development team should chase opportunities, but remember; sales is everyone’s job.

Motivate your project execs and managers to use their connections to find design work or secret projects not out on the open market.

Lead by example and have at least one “sales lunch” per week to keep a steady flow of opportunities coming in.

The “Build Work” Phase

Urgency is super important during construction. It means planning carefully, talking to subcontractors and suppliers, tweaking schedules, and making the workflow smooth.

Keep your field teams responsible for their work, ensuring everyone stays focused and keeps the sense of urgency alive throughout the project.

The “Get Paid” Phase

Lastly, urgency is essential when it comes to invoicing and receiving payment. Ensure you’re not underbilled, quickly handle change orders, and collect cash for finished jobs.

By incorporating urgency into these three key phases of your construction business, you can minimize complacency and maximize efficiency, leading to greater overall success in an ever-changing industry.

Now, let’s take a look at your team.

Team Dynamics: Identifying A, B, and C Players

When the economy takes a dip or the industry changes, you might see a shift in your team dynamics as urgency ramps up.

People who’ve never been through a downturn and got used to smooth sailing get thrown off by the sudden change in expectations and pressure.

This challenging period is when your A players step up, showing their grit, adaptability, and dedication to top-notch work even when the going gets rough.

On the flip side, your B and C players could stumble, exposing their limitations and struggling to embrace urgency.

As a leader, it’s your job to recognize your team member’s strengths and weaknesses during these times. Give your A players a chance to grow and take on more responsibility.

As for your B players, think about providing extra training, support, and guidance to help them step up their game and adjust to the heightened sense of urgency.

Your C players? Help them find employment with your competition.

If your team is dialed in it will impact the way they interact with your clients.

Urgency: Your Secret Weapon for Top-Notch Customer Service

Understanding and applying urgency in your construction team can boost your results and keep clients returning for more.

It’s all about making the most of every project, no matter what the market looks like.

Customer service should be your top priority.

You’re in this for the long haul, building relationships with folks who are here to stay. Construction has its ups and downs, but it’s not going anywhere.

In tough times, you might take on smaller gigs for big players, and that’s smart. When the market bounces back and those big projects roll in, you’ll be the first one they call.

Exceptional customer service and a sense of urgency will help you build trust and form lasting connections with your clients.

So, stay focused on delivering kick-ass customer service, even when things are rough.
Be proactive, address concerns quickly, and go above and beyond to impress your clients.

By instilling a sense of urgency in your team, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the highs and lows of the construction world and maintain strong bonds with your clients.

Salk’s Lesson: The Power of Urgency

Salk was determined, committing long hours in the laboratory, working late into the night, and spending weekends pursuing his goal.

He understood the high stakes and the importance of progressing against polio as rapidly as possible.

He pushed himself tirelessly to find a solution.

In 1955, Salk’s polio vaccine was declared effective and safe eight years after he began his research.

This monumental medical breakthrough demonstrated the impact of urgency.

Embrace Urgency Now

The construction industry has seen significant growth, allowing companies to succeed without being at their best. But with new economic challenges, things have changed.

Implement urgency in the three critical phases of your business: “Get Work”, “Build Work”, and “Get Paid”.

As your team dynamics shift, identify your A, B, and C players, and provide support accordingly.

Finally, make your clients a top priority, insist on a sense of customer service urgency. This will set you apart from competitors, and lead to overall success.

Want to take a deeper dive, and evaluate your team’s urgency?

Schedule a meeting with your key leaders and lead a discussion around the question: “In what specific ways can we increase urgency in our company in the next 90 days?”

Prior to that meeting share this FREE assessment with your leaders: https://www.constructiongenius.com/urgency-assessment

The assessment will give you a clear idea of everyone’s perspective on the intensity of urgency in your company.

The lower your score, the more work you have to do. Click this link to get the assessment.