Construction is fascinating on all aspects – the equipment, the technology, the people – ever changing and becoming even more sophisticated. So why has the industry not increased output or efficiencies? Because it takes continuous effort and the right mindset to change. There is no easy button.

In 2015 our team embarked on the first Integrated Project Delivery method for a $100 million expansion and renovation on one of our hospitals: 168,000 square foot new addition to a fully operating hospital – adjacent to our operating rooms, NICU and laboring mothers. It was no easy feat, but we were determined to do it differently this time and with intentional collaboration from those who would be left maintaining and living in these new environments.

We started with a strong team by interviewing subcontractors utilizing a tool known as Choosing By Advantage (CBA) to make the best all-inclusive choice - not just bottom dollar. We defined what was driving this expansion and discussed the importance of serving our growing community with the best technology and service. To define and agree what a successful job would look like, we laid out Conditions of Satisfaction, and launched a robust trade partner on-boarding program with a generous Risk and Reward clause. This was the best construction project ever!

After almost a year of designing, our team lost funding to keep moving forward. This 11-month delay split up our happy family and sent everyone in different directions. By the time the project was ready to gear up again, we were unable to get everyone back due to new commitments and had no choice but to move forward more aggressively. Consequently, commitments were not met, we lost our one model approach and quickly everyone went back to what was easy; back to comfort and back to waste.

Fast forward to ribbon cutting, we overcame several obstacles and finished an amazing, complicated, and challenging project in addition to focusing on lean principles. We stopped the train, although it could have been sooner, and reassessed where we were headed. By re-establishing a lean mindset and making this a continuous topic of discussion in all meetings, daily, our tradesmen became engaged in what was called “What If”. What if you provided a carpenter with an apron for all his door hardware tools so he didn’t go up and down a ladder 32 times to install hardware on one door? What if we split up the location of the portable toilets to decrease the number of steps and time taken throughout the day? What if companies supplied their crews with personal large water bottles so water jugs and paper cups could be eliminated on the floors? The list goes on.

Continuous improvement; Plan, Do, Act, Check, Improve and Repeat. It’s not easy, but it builds morale, increases efficiencies, saves money and time, and rewards those committed to a lean mindset.

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Ashley graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Construction Management and a minor Business Administration. She spent 9 years with a general contractor and moved to the owner’s side to manage healthcare construction projects for Penrose-St Francis Health Services 5 years ago. Ashley loves building and seeing progress every day; especially when it positively impacts our communities. She is CM-Lean, Certified Healthcare Contractor and LEED AP BD+C .