Lean Culture


 

Seeing Through Lean Lenses

It is often said that, “Once you begin to understand Lean, the world will never look the same!” Is that true for you? Has it happened to you yet?

As a consultant, I have spent many years working on a complex problem: how can we make our organizations more successful, more effective, and better places to spend the huge percentage of our time that constitutes our work life?

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How to Create Project Success Using Lean Principles

Tracey Kidder said, “Building is the quintessential act of civilization.” Think about it. If three people washed up on a deserted island, the first thing they would do is collaboratively build a shelter. Unless, of course, the three people were an architect, owner’s rep, and contractor. Then, they would have to wait for two lawyers to wash up on the beach so that they could proceed with the project.

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Lean.... let’s do life better!

This June I will be speaking at the Canadian Lean Conference in Winnipeg Canada. My subject will be “Lean is Simple.” It is centered on how I built a Lean culture with my team at FastCap and how thousands of other organizations around the world have done the same. However, if Lean is so “simple” why do so many people struggle to make it happen and make it sustainable?

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Management By Asking Why

The 5 Whys is a management concept that has been popularized by Toyota [1]. The concept is simple - when you encounter a problem, ask why at least 5 times until you understand the root cause. Only by addressing the root cause can you truly resolve the issue and ensure that it will never occur again. In today’s fast paced and dynamic business environment, constantly asking why is a good business practice that can lead to a more innovative and better problem-solving culture.

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Why Lean? Why Now?

Lean project delivery has entered the mainstream of construction, yet Lean adoption lags among design professionals. Architects and engineers who transformed the industry by first pioneering sustainable design and later the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) remain spectators while trade partners, construction managers, and some owners embrace Lean. As more owners expect and demand Lean, the hearts and minds of design professionals will soon follow. Change is difficult. Going “Lean” means abandoning the prevalent, “Robust” culture underlying design, operations and project delivery.

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Knowing Lean Construction is frustrating!

I always start the training of new Lean Practitioners with a general warning. They risk to be constantly frustrated after being trained as Lean Practitioners. If they do not think they can handle it they should leave the training immediately. This is partly a gimmick to get their attention but it is also true that if you are working as a Lean Practitioners you risk being constantly frustrated. To clarify this I divide the personal development as a new lean practitioner into four general development phases: 1) Scepticism, 2) Excitement, 3) Frustration and 4) Optimism.

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The Pocket Sensei - How to Teach Yourself to Train Your Mind

There's a revolution happening. It’s called learning while doing. Great projects are Lean — yet the majority of Lean initiatives fail. Lean is generally misunderstood to be about the tools we use rather than the people at the place where they work. Many Lean initiatives fail not because of the accessibility to Lean tools, but because leadership is unavailable when it is needed most. The leadership required to bring about and maintain such a tectonic shift seems scarce and difficult to develop.

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What Can be Learned About Lean from an Arts Perspective

Have you ever thought about adding to your perspective on Lean and your Lean practices in design and construction? Most of what we understand about Lean is based on observations made by people with an engineering and scientific perspective on work. This way of looking at work has been extremely valuable, and still there is a sense that Lean may be missing something if it is to become more fully practiced. A recent workshop exploring the arts perspective of Lean was a first step in expanding our understanding of Lean and how to best help others see the value in the Lean approach to work.

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The Present State of Lean Construction in Japan and a Better Way Forward

Many people are interested in the Japanese state of Lean Construction because Lean Construction has been born out from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Although I have been studying and introducing Lean Construction for some years, even now people who know the term "Lean Construction" seem to be less than 50 in number inside Japan. Outside Japan there is not so much information about the Japanese state of Lean Construction, which this contribution is aimed at presenting.

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Resistance to Lean & Integrated Project Delivery Part II: Develop “Profound Knowledge” to Address the Root Causes of Resistance

In the first post of this series I argued that when stakeholders do not agree on the problem, they probably will not agree on the solution. The “problem” for which advances in Lean Construction are “solutions”, is the failure of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry to realize similar productivity gains achieved by other industries. Three root causes of this problem were suggested: a “Knowing” vs a “Learning Culture”, Lack of Strategic Leadership, and Inertia. In this second post suggestions to address the three root causes are offered.

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5 Key Ideas to Make Your Lean Implementation More Successful

As a trainer and consultant of Lean Construction, I have always been passionate about the human side of Lean. I have been observing the behaviour of people in a lot of companies regarding the cultural changes that comes with implementing Lean. Based on my own experiences, I have compiled 5 key ideas that make companies be more successful in implementing Lean.

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Resistance to Lean & Integrated Project Delivery Part I: Three Root Causes

In my role as an “Integrated Lean Project Delivery (ILPD) Coach”, I struggle everyday to understand and address resistance to positive change in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry. Many reasons for this resistance have been suggested in various articles and posts. In this first of a two-part blog post, I will share some insights about what I believe are three root causes of resistance.

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Enhancing A3 Problem Solving with Technology

A3 problem solving has been popularized by the Toyota Production System [1]. At its core an A3 is simply a standard sheet of paper that is 11” X 17”. Despite its simplicity, an A3 is a powerful tool for problem-solving and communicating complex ideas in a simple manner. In this blog post we will describe the benefits of applying A3s and how technology can enhance this tried and true method.

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How does Toyota do it?

As an entrepreneur, manufacturer, author, speaker, and consultant I love questions? When people ask questions I know what they're thinking. And if I know what they're thinking, I have the best opportunity to help them whether it be on the shop floor in my manufacturing plant or consulting with companies around the world.

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Lean IPD: Start with the Culture, not the Contract

As real estate and capital investments drive the construction industry, and owners/investors are constantly looking for the right balance of programming, quality, safety and cost. They are forced to choose between “low price” or “best value,” two confusing terms whose actual implications are not understood. Many owners, especially those bound by legal requirements, buy “lowest first price.” The truth is that this may not translate into the “lowest final cost” or best value.

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Navigating Transformational Change

In my previous post (The Matter of Metrics) I postulated that having sufficient data is not enough to launch a transformational change. So what does trigger change? Some say a burning platform is needed. Where corporate viability is at stake this may be true. However, I suspect in a majority of cases organization leaders are blissfully unaware of a need to adopt Lean or do not view a change to a Lean approach as a priority. It is the fortunate company with a senior leader high enough in the food chain to communicate the burning platform that elevates Lean as a strategic priority. For the rest of us proponents of transformation I share lessons learned from my own journey.

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The research is in: A Lean team is an “A”-team!

As the first half of the year ends, it’s a great time for a quick retrospective on your New Year’s Resolutions. If you are like me, you set some ambitious goals for the year, and your business probably did the same.

Often, those resolutions are stated as goals (lag) vs. targets (lead). So what if we set some quantifiable improvement targets for our capital projects, like 10% faster and/or for 10% less without compromising safety, program or quality? Imagine the impact this could have on your business.

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Let’s Be Kids and Continuously Improve!!

When I was a kid, I used to want to win at all costs. This is what my father taught me. They don’t keep score for nothing was the mentality. As I grew up, I have grown to accept it’s not as much about the end result as it is about the journey to get there and my daughter has reinforced this more than anything. My kid has taught me to always focus on getting better and if we don’t always reach our goal, or win, then that’s okay as long as you reflect on your progress, accept mistakes as a way to learn and to get better. I know many parents have a similar approach.

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Lean Practitioners Need Buddies

I recently joined a large international project as a Lean Manager. To join the project team I moved to another country and left the most of my professional network behind. I was a bit nervous when I started my new job. How would they perceive lean? Where do I find support and inspiration? In the last +10 years I have implemented lean on various projects and learned that a strong network is necessary for success.

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Lean from the Bottom Up – A Grass Roots Journey

Almost five years ago, our formal Lean journey began when a client asked us to facilitate a Lean transformation on a large, ongoing construction project. It was considered the largest Lean implementation of its kind. Our team, more than 200 of our salaried staff, a similar number of client management and roughly 1,200 craft personnel, began our Lean journey together at the midpoint of this project. The results were dramatic and the metrics generated exceeded all prior metrics from equivalent projects for that client.

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Is Perfect the Enemy of Good?

My wife and I enjoy the occasional TV police drama. Now before you start to question how I spend my spare time, hear me out.

One day last week one of the characters in a show we frequent stated that “perfect is the enemy of good”. That phrase stuck with me. I did a search online and apparently the quote, contributed to Voltaire no less, was originally “better is the enemy of good” or perhaps “perfect is the enemy of good enough” – give or take some allowance for a sloppy translation from French to English.

That led me to thinking about the quest for perfection in a lean context.

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The Matter of Metrics

When company leaders are confronted with the prospect of changing to a Lean Project Delivery approach they will undoubtedly say, “Show me the data.” The implication is that if the data is there to support the implementation of Lean then they will get behind the change. However, this is rarely the case as I will address later, so hold that thought to the end of this installment. Until then let’s assume that your senior executives DO get the Lean/IPD value proposition. Big assumption, but humor me for now.

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The Secret Sauce: How to Make all of Your Lean Projects Successful

The big buzz phrase in the construction industry is Integrated Project Delivery or IPD. Disney has a concept called ILPD or Integrated Lean Project Delivery. This uses not only a collaborative approach to projects, but also uses the Last Planner System and Lean concepts to eliminate waste, focus on adding value, and continuously improving. Everyone on the project signs an integrated form of agreement that commits to shared risk and reward and cooperation throughout the project.

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5 Ways to Keep Employees Engaged When Working in Remote, Outsourced and Virtual Environments

The rise in information technology, changing market and working conditions has meant the workplace environment for some design and construction workers has evolved significantly. More companies are moving away from the traditional workplace settings where they have daily face-to-face contact with their manager and team. It is now more common to work remotely, outsource to other organisations, or work online and from home.

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Miracle in Kazakhstan: Creating a Lean Culture in 18 Months

It is hard to believe that I am on my fifth book "Miracle in Kazakhstan." In January 2015, I accepted an invitation to come to Kazakhstan’s largest construction company - BI Group - to speak about “2 Second Lean”. My job was simple; build a lean culture in a company through interpreters, in a language that is as foreign to me as painting a Van Gough would be.

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The Importance of the Owner for Lean Project Success

In Germany, there is a tendency that construction companies are the first stakeholders of the whole project process who apply lean principles or at least - lean tools. Working as an owner, I often ask myself, how much leaner can a project/construction site become if the lean principles are only executed inside the processes of the contractor.

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When the Wheels Fall Off (and They Will)

You’ve studied the Toyota Production System, you’ve attended webinars, you’ve read all the books. You’ve even learned a little Japanese in the process. Your team has been prepped and schooled in lean theory and seems enthusiastic about embracing something new. You’re ready to lead your team to the promised land of lean and your world is soon to be filled with joyous customers, happy employees, and record profits!

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A Self Professed Lean Simpleton

When I was in college I studied abroad in Germany for one semester. I studied German language, history, and literature. One of the books that I read was called The Adventures of a Simpleton. As I remember, it was a story of a servant class young man. He was looking out into the world of kings and queens through the eyes of a very naïve man who had little exposure to the things of the world, let alone nobility. After I read that book I walked away with the notion that being a simpleton was not a good thing.

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Effective Leadership Underpins Successful Lean Implementation

Creating a workplace culture where people hold a mindset of continuous improvement, proactivity and seek better ways of doing things is of substantial interest to the lean community. This mindset is needed to enable successful implementation of lean principles. So how do we create a culture where we get buy in from employees to adopt this way of thinking?

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Using Lewin’s Change Model to Understand Continuous Improvement

When we are talking about Lean, we are talking about continuous improvement. Continuous improvement requires a system, process, organizational structure, and cultural change. It is necessary that involved parties understand the change process in order to initiate change. The change process itself can be easily explained with Lewin's change model.

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Creating a Lean Culture: Communicating with HeaRT

Creating a lean culture sometimes requires participating in difficult conversations. Perhaps someone is not meeting their commitments, or maybe they're not fully present in meetings where their input is critical to the success of the project. How do you communicate with them in a way that doesn't tear them down yet gets results?

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5 Tips to Developing Your Organization’s Culture and Move Towards Peak Business Performance

The current economic climate is posing real threats and challenges to many organizations’ longevity. The applicability and sustainability of organizations across the world is being questioned, resulting in many organizations wondering how to effectively respond.

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Understanding The Difference Between Cooperation And Collaboration

Practically, the terms cooperation and collaboration are interpreted differently or used synonymously. Using the terms interchangeable to express “working together” can result in misunderstandings between project participants as the concepts behind cooperation and collaboration are different.

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