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Real Life Lean - 024 - Owners Leaning In

Welcome to another edition of Real Life Lean. This newsletter is intended to give construction professionals worldwide 4 quick and easy resources to grow and continue on your lean journey.

Today's Summary:

Lean Article

The article below from The Lean Builder caught my eye, as it reminded me of a post I had made in the past about how the construction industry encourages a firefighting mentality. Keyan Zandy does a fantastic job breaking down this culture that has been created in construction and shares 3 actionable ways to combat this.

Takeaway: I am seeing this firefighting mentality on my current project, as resources are strapped project wide. Our teams are planning as best they can, but most of our success is coming down to the last minute. I hope to fix this with our team and plan to use the tips shared in this article to start!

Lean Podcast

We hear so much about lean construction from the GC perspective, we hear a little about lean construction from the trade partner perspective, but we rarely ever hear about lean construction from the owners perspective. In the episode below Felipe Engineer-Manriquez interviews Tim Singleton. Tim may currently be on the owners side, but he has come up through the trades and brings a GC’s mindset to the owners table. They discuss Tim’s path to his current role and how he uses lean construction principles (respect for people) on his projects.

Takeaway: My main takeaway from this episode was the emphasis that Tim puts on respect for people. It was refreshing to hear this viewpoint from the owners side. I really like some of the tips an tricks Tim shares about how he shows respect and how he builds a high performing team. A great episode from The EBFC Show.

Lean Event

The premier lean construction and design event is fast approaching. Register for LCI’s 25th Congress at the link below. This years theme is “Supercharge your lean journey in the Motor City” and I am so pumped to be headed there this year.

Takeaway: Looking at the agenda and list of topics and sessions that will be held has me wishing I could clone myself so I can attend them all. I am looking forward to meeting other passionate lean friends and excited to be speaking at one of the live labs on Thursday (You Can Lead A Team To Culture, But Can you Make Them Think). Can’t wait to see YOU in Detroit!

Real Life Lean - Lean practices in the real world

Next week our team starts planning for the meat and potatoes of our project, our site shutdown. We will be shutting down the facility in order to complete 100’s of tie-ins on systems ranging from BMS to Instrument Air. All in all this will be a busy few weeks and it will require everyone to work together. A shutdown like this thrives with proper planning and lean tools and principles will help us successfully complete this shutdown. On top of the planning, our team is taking a look at current practices that we have when interfacing between the owner maintenance teams and the trades.

The owners maintenance teams are responsible for LOTO of all systems on-site. With a shutdown that will include 150+ tie-ins and LOTOs, we need to have a smooth system in place. Once a system is LOTO’d by the maintenance team, the trades can place a lock on the lock box and sign in on the LOTO sheet. The current practice involves a lock box being stored 2 buildings away and the use of cell phones in a low service area. If another crew comes to work on this system, a superintendent must walk out of the work area to get cell service, call maintenance, who needs to stop what they are doing, go find the lock box and associated paperwork and bring it down to the work area. Our team realized this is not going to be efficient during our shutdown, so we are making a process improvement.

Our proposed new process will involve cubbies placed on each floor of the work. When a LOTO is completed on that floor, the lock box will be placed in a cubby with the associated paperwork and a temp label will be put on the box. Now, when a trade needs to lock on or unlock from the box, they can simple walk to the huddle area of that floor and complete their work. This saves time all around, and should allow our team to stay on track to complete our shutdown.

This is lean. Lean doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be technical. It can be as simple as identifying an issue and finding a better, more efficient way of doing something.

Have a Real Life Lean story you think would be a great feature in an upcoming newsletter? Send me an email at

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