The Business Case for Lean

Before I retired from Intel Corporation, I was often asked what data we used to select our contracting methodology or our project delivery approach. Like many large companies, too often we used a poor recent project as a reason to try yet another approach versus having a set of objective data from which to draw upon.

When I first joined the Lean Construction Institute board, I heard that same question asked time and time again with little real hard evidence. There was many good subjective stories and projects that were utilizing lean construction practices, and many had very encouraging results. But again, almost all owners I spent time with needed some hard data to prove to their companies that they were following best practices.

To answer those questions, LCI sponsored a research effort aiming to uncover what was at the root of owner satisfaction on projects and even more importantly what differentiated best projects from average projects. Not surprising, schedule and budget were the 2 top outcomes almost all owners were interested in optimizing. Dodge Analytics did an outstanding job of interviewing and collecting data from 82 different owners across a multitude of different industries. In each case they asked the owners many in depth questions, on each respective companies best project and its average or typical project. They were then able to really dig into what differentiated projects and what systematically were key difference makers.

The results of the research were very compelling and for the first time, we now have real objective data that shows the benefits of lean and collaborative approaches to projects. Projects with a high lean intensity had an order of magnitude better likelihood of coming in under budget and ahead of schedule. The research also pointed out many of the key “why’s” behind project success and we were now armed to answer the questions that had eluded us for years.

For any owner who was seeking objective data on why they should approach a certain delivery method or contracting strategy, they now had very clear and very compelling data. LCI sponsored a 2nd research effort conducted by Renee Cheng of the University of Minnesota targeted at unlocking the secrets of success behind integrated project delivery which is one approach to being more collaborative.

The 2nd research efforts when taken in combination allow us to showcase a blueprint for success and given companies a recipe for a much higher probability for getting the results they desire. I had the privilege last year to travel across much of the country, sharing the research results in many of the LCI communities of practice forums. Using this data as well as my own experience on the power of using this information to unlock the potential in our projects to deliver superior results. Building the team, onboarding all parties early in the design process, picking the right delivery and compensation strategy are all key findings from the research. We also uncovered the most impactful lean tools/methods which give new teams a place to start.

Please join me in an upcoming webinar learning about the research results and how you can positively impact the schedule and budget on your upcoming projects.

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