Are You Curious to Learn Lean?

The construction industry is an interesting animal. I say that, not just as an observer, but as someone who has been involved with construction my entire life. I started off building guitars for Taylor Guitars, then, I went on to restore beautiful homes in Pasadena, California. Following this, I opened up my own general contracting business where I did a lot of restoration work and remodelling. The one thing I have found about construction people is that they are creative. They are used to building things and creating with ease. Perhaps it is because of this creative bent that they are not as teachable as most groups of people. They are capable of solving their own problems if you will and this is what I have experienced to some extent with people in the construction industry.

Now I would separate people into two categories. Ninety-five percent of the people out there, they have figured it out - or as I say, they have genius disease, there is nothing new to learn, they have been there, done that. But, there is a section of the construction industry that I am seeing emerge that is so interested in improving and learning, and specifically about the implementation of lean. I guess, learning to implement lean is really the topic of this blog. Why is it that this particular group of people interested in change, in an industry that has experienced so little change in the way we do work?

I can't answer the question for sure, but my notion is this: The people that love lean in the construction industry are naturally curious. They don't have all the answers, they love to learn, and even better yet, they love to do anything that will improve the outcome, reduce the defects by giving and providing a better product. Not only to their satisfaction, but to the satisfaction to the end user - the customer who they are working for. Those are the characteristics that I see come up with people from the construction industry that love lean. They have a tendency towards humility, not think too much of themselves, and, they are naturally curious.

So my challenge to you is: Is it possible that lean could actually improve your life? In order for you to really and fully understand that idea, you are going to first have to admit that you don't know at all. When you learn about lean and when you begin to realize that there is this life time journey of figuring out how little you know and how much there is to learn, that you will really begin to appreciate to learn the lean concept. So, as Steve Jobs said at the end of his speech to Stanford University - "remember, don't be afraid to be a little foolish". It is not essential that just because you are creative and you have been solving problems your whole life, and building yourself out of every situation that you can't figure out and learn something new that could just quite possibly transform your life.

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