Imagine you just came back from an LCI Congress, or a Lean Construction Blog Conference, or some other lean training. You are excited, energetic, and hopeful for the future. Finally, you will be able to take that next step, improve your project, and reduce waste. Nothing can stop you now. Until you head back to the project the next day… You begin to realize you’ll have to get this past your Superintendent. He is good, but not always open to new ideas. You begin to realize this will be harder than you thought, simply because it starts with people. The frustration begins to build as the first answers to your suggestions are, “We don’t need that,” and, “That won’t work here.”

Now, let’s change seats. Pretend you are the Superintendent. You have been doing this for years, and maybe even for decades, you always bring the project in on time somehow, and you always have control. Now, someone on your team, after one training, is telling you in mild tones that you are doing it wrong, and that command and control is bad. “What in the world just happened?” you think to yourself. “Why would having control of the project be bad?” The fact is that Supers are placed into difficult, if not brutal situations with unruly trades, insufficient project budgets, unrealistic deadlines, and a lack of resources. They not only have to keep control; they are incentivized financially to do so. No one will ever know the stress of being a Super unless they have been one.

So, here is our problem. Supers must maintain control to survive, and everyone else wants them to give it up. What is to be done? That answer is two-fold. More training for Superintendents who have been largely ignored for a century now, and using and having a better understanding of the right system on site. What is needed is an Integrated Control System, not command and control. Integrated Control is the collaboration and decision making of an integrated team who then acts with total participation to create control, stability, and flow on the project. This is the way! One person deciding and controlling is not the way, and neither is team collaboration with chaos in the field because there is no control. A good job is a clean job. A good job is organized. A good job is safe, lean, and stable, and a good job has total participation. Yes, a Super must have control of his project, but must do it with the team, and through the team.

To do this, we must have training and awareness. There is little or no training, at least in book form, for Superintendents, and yet there are countless books and training for project managers of all types. There are even books for field engineers, the position just before getting to a Super role, but still, nothing remains for the career Superintendent. Until Now! Elevating Construction Superintendents was written as a first in a series of books titled, “The Art of the Builder”. The first book, which is out now on Audible, Amazon, and Kindle, provides fundamental training for Superintendents. Other books are on their way: Elevating Construction Takt Planning, Elevating Construction Field Engineers and Elevating Construction Senior Superintendents.

The concepts in the first book will teach and enable Supers to respect people and resources, create stability on their projects, successfully work with an integrated team, and to continuously improve. Builders who have read and implemented this have cleaner, safer, and more organized projects, with better schedules, and healthier and happier environments and cultures. This comes from a fundamental understanding of builder principles, and the ability to implement step-by-step on their project as guided by the book.

Supers will be taught to:

  1. Be Involved with Intentional Pre-construction Efforts
  2. Write Lean into Contracts
  3. Win over the Workforce
  4. Build the Project Management Team First
  5. Orient People Well
  6. Design Remarkable Interaction Spaces
  7. Create Self-sustaining Logistics Systems
  8. Use the Meeting Systems to Scale Communication
  9. Stabilized Procurement & Deliveries
  10. Implement an Effective Quality Program
  11. Being a Daily Issue Correction System
  12. Manage a Roadblock Removal System
  13. Implement Zero Tolerance
  14. And, Grade contractors

The Integrated Control System presumes that the project team’s first priority is to create respect and stability for the workers, and that from there, they can then continuously improve. In order to succeed, workers need to know/have:

  1. What s/he is building
  2. How to install it
  3. Where to put it
  4. The materials
  5. The equipment
  6. A clean environment
  7. A safe environment

The Last Planner System has changed the industry for the better. What kind of builders will enter and use that system? The answer is Lean Builders that know The Art of the Builder. Take this journey with us as we prepare the next generation to lead remarkably in construction.

We will continue to write a series of blog posts on the 14 key points listed above. I will also be giving a FREE webinar on how to elevate your superintendents and leverage our most crucial position on March 31, 2021. I hope to see you at the free webinar.

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Jason Schroeder is a former Field Operations and Project Director. He has worked as a construction leader for 22 years through positions that range from field engineer, to project superintendent, general superintendent and field operations director. He is the Owner and Lead Consultant at Elevate Construction IST, a company focused on elevating construction from coast to coast by providing insights, solutions, and training that create respect in the field, through trained leaders, which ultimately preserves and protects families in construction. He is the creator of the Field Engineer Boot Camp and Superintendent Boot Camp, which are immersive courses that train field leadership.