Last week I shared a quick summary of what I’ve learned from our monthly interview series, “A Field Walk With,” where I profile a Lean practitioner and help them share their journey. You can read that initial blog here.
All our 13 experts agreed that Lean can be used on every type of project and even if it’s just your own trade or silo implementing Lean. Granted, that’s not the ideal or where the real value comes into play, but every step is progress on a Lean journey.
A Field Walk With – Lean Construction Influencers
In part one of the blog, we talked about ways our Lean leaders overcome resistance. This week, we’ll highlight what our experts view as the biggest impact and value for Lean as well as a bit of where they see our construction industry going.
- Romano Nickerson with Boulder Associates noted: “A truly Lean organization will dominate their market. I have seen firms benefit from Lean application to the point where they outperform their competitors and gain access to new markets because of their success.”
- Paz Arroyo with DPR Construction added about Lean’s value: “Respect for people. I think the value of Lean is using more than people’s hands. Greg Howell used to say, ‘with every pair of hands comes a free brain.’ It means using a person’s full potential and recognizing the ideas of people that are doing the work. Lean creates a system to allow them to improve. It’s a more dignified way of doing construction. It opens the opportunity for more diversity. This is not just for tough guys that can grind through impossible tasks. We don’t want to create impossible tasks.”
- Henry Nutt with Southland Industries echoed the sentiment: “Respect for people rises to the top for me. We must bring respect to the person – the worker, and respect for the trade skills they bring. It’s the work-life balance, safety first focus, fair pay, career advancement, etc.”
- Owner’s rep Stephen Powell with Meadows & Ohly noted that the biggest value he sees with Lean is getting a predictable outcome: “If I know that a team is embracing Lean, they are creating the respect for people, and we are taking the time to educate the importance of buying in on the project, we can see a predictable outcome. All the elements of Lean give us a better shot to know how scope, schedule, and budget will be managed from cradle to grave on a project. Implementing Lean early and often can make everyone more successful and, at times, likely get the statements like ‘that was my best project ever.’”
- Jennifer Lacy with Robins & Morton noted that our future requires Lean thinking and action: “When thinking about the future of construction I think we can all agree there is no gateway opening with an influx of people, yet construction is not going to slow down. If we, as an industry, want to not only survive, but thrive, we must find a balance with culture and tools to retain workforce and best utilize their talent. People are at the center of everything we do, and we must focus on taking care of our most important resources. Lean has put the focus back on the people. Respect for people, elevating the value they provide and communicating that they are needed and accepted will be key to our future successes.”
- Leadership coach Rebecca Snelling shared her forecast: “In the next 5 to 10 years, I believe the way we put work into place will shift in very innovative and dramatic ways. While we can’t predict the technology yet, it will be a driver. It will need to advance, as the way we are currently putting work in place is not enough to meet the construction demands we have now, much less the construction demands we’ll have in the future, when we have even fewer resources available. We’ll also start seeing more prefab modules coming online to help more work be completed away from jobsites and installed quicker and with more reliability.”
- Buddy Brumley with Skiles Group closed out his thoughts on the impact to our industry: “What amazes me is the sharing across company lines. The culture is changing. People aren’t just using Lean for the benefit of their own teams. When we all get better, the industry gets better. Lean motivates us to talk about what’s not working and what is. We’re not learning if we’re not talking.”
If you haven’t read the full series of A Field Walk With interviews, I invite you view the blog overview page to read each person’s interview.
- Based on feedback from our readers, we’re continuing this series in 2023! If you’d like to share your journey or suggest someone to feature, please reach out to us for consideration.
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