At my first LCI Congress, I met a lean master, Jack. At my second to fifth LCI Congresses I got to know more about the tricks of the trade that enabled this Master to be extremely successful.
Jack wasn’t at the conferences needing to find more work. His crew were so good at delivering VALUE that his main client AMAZON, literally threw 45 story projects at them as fast as they could deliver. As I got to know Jack I learned more about his approach and success with lean project systems and tools. This relationship came in real handy when on a recent project that was in trouble, we needed to show another contractor how a lean construction master plies his trade.
We had put the team through boot camp, signed them up with the good behavior manifesto and pull planned a roadmap for how to fix an eighteen story residential project. After working the Last Planner System for a couple months, we got to be decent pirates able to steal from waste and fix the leaks in the project. The project started to pick up speed, but there was no spark to light the cannon, so to speak.
There was something missing. Was it Trust? Discipline? Motivation? Leadership? Inspiration? The initial efforts helped to get the process started, but without seeing the Last Planner System in action on a real project by a real master, it was a hard sell to establish the buy-in needed to execute the systems. It was time to go on a walk about tour of some of Master Jack's projects in Seattle.
Fortunately, Master Jack offered to show the crew from the Isle of Vancouver how they design and build building using lean construction systems. We jumped on the opportunity to tour a 45-storey residential tower they were building for Amazon. As an early pioneer of Lean construction practice, Master Jack's crew have built strong relationships that enable them to secure negotiated work and avoid the traditionalist tendering game.
By becoming a reliable solution provider able to address Amazon's challenge of developing quality space fast enough to handle its amazing growth, the reward is to become a preferred solution provider.
The holy grail, the ultimate treasure, no more tendered projects. WOW
The tour of the Amazon project provided the Isle of Vancouver crew with the inspiration needed, as the team witnessed what a fully coordinated Lean project looks like.
It was a symphony of lean construction productivity.
The site was 5S clean, work was fully coordinated in Takt time zones with one trade per zone, Just-In-Time supply and installs, optimized sharing of equipment and hoisting systems. (If you don’t understand these terms yet, no worries! More on this later).
We had timed the project walk to coincide with the weekly coordination meeting, to see firsthand the high level of coordination and production work flow that can be achieved by an experienced Lean contracting team. The approximately 30+ trades reported out in the one-hour coordination meeting.
The team achieved close to 90% Percentage of Planned Work Completed (PPC) for the week. The project was close to being topped out on floor 43 and there were suites on the main floor that were clean, locked and ready for M&E systems to be turned on.
With Lean, you can implement brilliant systems with average people to achieve exceptional results. The reward is repeat business by negotiated work with clients that understand value, relationships and the Lean way of doing business.
So we get back to good Ole Canada, and we plug away at fixing project after project and along the way we ponder …
Can we make Lean so simple that every project can be a
symphony of scrawny (lean) construction productivity?