The Lean Construction in Europe is a series that features Lean practitioners working in Europe. In this series, William Power interviews lean leaders and shares lessons learned. This series highlights how people are currently applying Lean in their projects and how they are progressing on their lean journey. The goal of this series is to connect people with the lean practices that they are currently using. We want to share stories about what they are learning and how they are improving their practice.

1. Hello Lauri. Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your construction career and experience?

I am now an entrepreneur, coach, consultant, and researcher. I have earlier worked as a project engineer, project manager and in executive tasks for over 25 years. I have been working for both the public and private sector.

During the last 12 years, projects I have been involved in are associated with productivity, Lean Construction, and Integrated Project Delivery models such as Project Alliances. I have also been active in Lean Construction society both in Finland and internationally. I have tens of customers with whom I have been implementing Lean in practice. I was rewarded as the Civil Engineer of the year 2016 and Roadman of the decade 2010 in Finland.

2. When did Lean Construction (LC) first come to your attention and what were your initial thoughts?

I met Iris Tommelein and Glenn Ballard in 2006 in Berkeley. They suggested me to join the LCI annual Congress which was held in San Francisco. I immediately understood the very first day in the Congress that this is what I have been looking for.

3. How did your LC career evolve, and do you now find yourself consistently using LC in your daily work?

I started my coach and consultant career in 2008 by implementing the Last Planner System in Finland. In 2010 I started to implement the first Integrated Project Delivery models (IPD). Since then, I have been working with IPD teams daily.

4. Can you describe a recent or current project you are utilizing LC methodologies on?

I have two. One is a tramway project in the City of Helsinki and the other is a 1-billion-euro hospital project also in Helsinki. The tramway project is already in execution phase and our big picture goal has been reducing lead time by decreasing patch size in everything and adapting takt principles in the infrastructure project. The hospital project is still in the developing phase. We have been focusing on integrating trade partners early to the core team and building a culture which can continuously improve its performance, understanding what is valued and how to effectively use the TVD-process in a Big Room environment. Figure 1 presents success factors from a recent TVD project.

Figure 1: Success factors from a recent TVD project.

5. What would you find as being the most used Lean methodologies across your projects and can you explain why?

I believe that Last Planner System (LPS) has been the most used so far. With LPS you can improve communication and teams’ performance almost immediately. That also helps to introduce other great Lean tools such as 5 whys and different kind of visual management tools etc. to teams.

Figure 2: Visualised Pull Plan within LPS.

6. Can you explain how Finland has become recognised globally as being a leading advocate of LC practices?

We are a small industry and quite brave to try new things. We have been also lucky that we have had brave owners who have had courage and decisiveness to make changes in the industry. The change is not a project. It is a journey.

7. I have read of the success of IPD and Alliancing on Finnish projects. Can you comment on what has led to this success?

We are still learning every day. I believe that kind of attitude is the most important. Not every project is successful, but we have also had good success stories. I think that those teams have really understood the values of what we need to deliver, and those teams have been solid. The projects which have not been as successful, maybe we're not able to integrate people and process well enough and didn't play as a one integrated team with common goals. Figure 3 presents a simplified TVD in action graphic.

Figure 3: TVD in action graphic.

8. Are there specific challenges you encounter relating to LC implementation and how do you address these?

Culture, culture, and culture. Really focusing on people.

9. Is there specific advice you can offer those who are starting off with LC?

Be brave and set targets. Be patient. Small steps and focus on people.

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William Power is an experienced Construction Management professional with over 30 years of experience in project delivery across all sectors including residential, commercial, pharma, life sciences, marine, infrastructure, underground and overhead utilities. William, a holder of Honours Degree in Construction Management and Honours Master of Business in Lean Practice, is currently undertaking doctoral research in Continuous Improvement in Construction Project Delivery in SETU, Ireland.

Lauri is an experienced Partner with a demonstrated history of working in the management consulting industry. He is skilled in Value Engineering, Cost Management, Highways, Coaching, and Design Management. He is an entrepreneur with a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) focused in Civil Engineering from Helsinki University of Technology.