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.

This is a very good concept that is getting a lot of attention. There are incredible success stories and stories of unmitigated disasters that have used the IPD model. So what is the secret sauce? What contributes to success as opposed to failure? My gut feeling is that the people dimension of this process is a critical factor to its success. Take a look at the typical emotional profile for a large group of folks (over 500) who manage the construction process:

This is based on my own research on emotional intelligence in the construction industry as outlined in my book, The People Profit Connection, How Emotional Intelligence Can Maximize People Skills and Maximize Your Profit. As you can see, the relatively high scores are self-regard, independence, assertiveness, stress tolerance, and reality testing (black/white thinkers). The relatively low scores are impulse control, flexibility, emotional self-awareness, empathy, interpersonal relationships, and social responsibility (the ability to work in groups and teams). This is a bell curve distribution, so 100 is the mean. Let's put it this way. This group of construction managers couldn't get any of the interpersonal skills to the mean. That means that all of the interpersonal skills are BELOW AVERAGE!

This does not bode well for collaborative project delivery methods. We must address these emotional competencies first. Then, we must cultivate the relationships and create trust. Then, and only then, can we properly plan the project. There is a simple way to do that.

Step 1: Everyone on the project evaluates their emotional competence. We have attached a free emotional intelligence test. Everyone can focus on areas to improve, create development plans, and connect with an accountability partner on site. Everyone can also set health goals for the project and create development plans on how to reduce stress, lose weight, eat better, etc.

Step 2: As many stakeholders as possible meet for several days for team building and relationship building. This should be a very deliberate process aimed at creating trust among all stakeholders. Also, key performance indicators for the project should be created with concrete measurements. Keep in mind the lean principles of eliminating waste, adding value, and continually improving.

Step 3: As many stakeholders as possible should meet at least monthly to evaluate personal goals (health and emotional) and project goals (key performance indicators). Make adjustments where necessary. Also, each month can address a different topic such as communication skills, stress management, time management, etc. This session can also onboard new stakeholders to fold them into the process.

With every person working at their peak level of mental, physical, and emotional performance, and every stakeholder keeping an eye on the key performance indicators for the project, you can’t help but have a successful job.

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