It’s impossible to run a mile in under 4 minutes. This statement was true until 1954. Roger Bannister ran one mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. Since then, 1,664 athletes have broken the “four-minute barrier” for a one-mile run. The four-minute mile is now the standard for professional middle distance runners.
The four-minute mile story proves that once someone does something the world considers impossible, it will motivate others to try the impossible. The four-minute mile story is about continuous improvement: changing the way we train, changing the way we operate.
LEAN CONSTRUCTION METHODS ARE THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY’S FOUR-MINUTE MILE.
The success described below in this blog is due to understanding a process, giving people an opportunity to learn and execute a process, and working together to optimize the whole process.
It’s impossible for my team to complete a project three months early. This statement was true for the current project I’m a superintendent assigned to until the client called Core’s President of the Florida office to ask if we were “really tracking to complete three months early.” Yep, it’s true. Our team is tracking performance of the Last Planner System® (LPS) based on a CPM schedule, developed by someone sitting in an office.
Let me put this a different way, our team SAVED three months of money and time by executing LPS. Those results are real and have an impact on our bottom line in a way that doesn’t happen very often in our industry.
Keep reading below about how a continuous improvement mindset helped shape my Lean journey into results the matter!
In 2016, I updated my leadership philosophy and resume to include some of the Lean Construction methods I had become familiar with. Instead of having someone help me create a very professional resume, I chose to create an A3 type resume by myself, and I arrogantly put in bold letters these words:
- Ability to use Lean Construction methods to reduce CPM schedules by 15%.
I received one call after three months of waiting. And that call was to say that the person reviewing my resume appreciated how it was formatted, but they aren’t interested at this time. So, I changed the wording of the Lean Construction skills I mentioned.
It now said in big bold letters:
- Ability to use Microsoft project and P6 to create project schedules and implement Lean Construction practices to help manage a CPM schedule.
I had two face-to-face interviews scheduled within a week and several more phone calls from interested companies.
Fast forward to 2021 – 7 years later. I’m all in on Lean Construction and, once again, I update my resume to read:
- I can guarantee a 15% reduction to CPM schedules by using Lean Construction methods.
I interviewed with one person who asked me, “How can you do that?” I arrogantly replied, “I can guarantee a 15% reduction because I have documentation to show that the last three projects that I’ve completed have beaten the CPM schedule for the particular project.”
Being a very good interviewer, they allowed me to continue to say, “The 15% reduction is actually conservative because I am now trying to use Lean process to get a 30% reduction to schedule.” This company did not choose to call me back but appreciated our interview.
I chose to be a Superintendent for Core Construction in 2022 because a friend and colleague, Aaron Pitt, suggested I help Core implement the Last Planner System as a superintendent on a project.
The year is 2023, and I can now update my resume to read:
- Achieved a 30% reduction in schedule time using Lean Construction methods on a $30 million-dollar senior living center.
That’s growth right there. No more arrogant guarantees of construction schedule reductions. Just facts about what happened on a project where I was lucky enough to be the superintendent.
Our project team did not try to push this schedule. We did it by creating a flow of work, putting in visual controls for quality checks, and by being respectful to each other when things didn’t go as planned. We used the Last Planner System for construction scheduling.
The process works and now our project team has established a new standard for the industry: The Last Planner System process of construction scheduling has shown that CPM schedules can be reduced by 30%.
Now, here’s the continuous improvement challenge that I have for you. I challenge you to comment on how you intend to stay relevant in the construction industry in the year 2030.
My plan will be outlined in my next post titled, “The Future of Construction Scheduling: What will your schedule look like in the year 2030?”