Are the “Boring” Companies the Biggest Disruptors?

01/22/2018 | By Alex Krause

This post originally appeared on

Grit Virtual is building a completely new type of construction management software: a construction schedule generator. Grit went through our 2017 class, and have something that we are now looking for more of in 2018: boring. Boring in a good way -- a company that is doing something so sensible and timely, it will disrupt the market in an important way.

When we think of industries focused on continuous improvement, we think of manufacturing. Manufacturing shares many similar properties to construction, but manufacturing is growing in labor productivity of about 3.6 percent a year, while construction productivity improves at a rate of about 1 percent a year. Manufacturing is blowing construction out of the water.

98 percent of construction projects have overrun costs (costing about 80 percent more on average than estimated) and delayed schedule (of on average 20 months). Furthermore, construction today is one of few industries that does not have real time reporting. Foreman write down their reports for the day (hours worked, delays, progress), which are then inputted into a system, analyzed, and reported back. This lack of real time data adds to the exorbitant cost and delays in any construction project. Industries like retail, which are already struggling, would be nowhere if not for their digitized, real-time, productivity data: customer conversion, items per transaction, cost per transaction, and so on.

With 7 percent of our workforce and $10 trillion annually at stake, it is about time construction was brought into the twenty-first century.

All other construction schedule softwares simply digitize a schedule created by one or two individuals. Grit’s system captures all team members' knowledge and applies artificial intelligence to​ generate the project schedule

Grit’s software includes a suite of coordination algorithms that prioritize and sequence a project's schedule resulting in the most reliable workflows for all performing crews. They automatically generate daily plans and reports, allowing contractors and other project stakeholders to receive up-to-the-minute updates on project progress with this "living schedule". This unprecedented level of insight enables contractors to reduce labor waste and deliver projects to their clients on time, quicker than ever.

Decision Making

Human Factors

Time on Paperwork


Poor decisions

Sick days

Daily reports



Lack of engagement



11th hour decisions

Lack of improvement

Time sheets


Missing Information

Other administration

Owner approvals

Other subs


Missing materials


I asked Chris Callen, CEO of Grit, which barriers to labor productivity can Grit improve. He sent me back a list which highlighted everything except weather, safety, and sick days. With so many possible things slowing down a project and making it more expensive, there should be interventions and real-time information associated with each productivity measure.

Big, expensive problems like these are ripe for disruption. Chris Callen likes to say that he wanted to start a company that solved such a big problem, that in a few years, anyone who didn’t adopt a solution to fix it would be obsolete. Those are exactly the kinds of problems that most excite us as we get into looking for companies for our 2018 program.

Our applications opened last week. If you have a big idea to disrupt a tired industry, we want to talk to you.