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Real Life Lean 025 - Don't Be Wasteful

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

Inventory is probably one of the most common of the 8 wastes, and I am sure you can find it on your project. In today’s construction world that is full of supply chain issues, we have a tendency to want everything delivered to the job site whenever we can get it. If you are not running a lean job site, this will lead to a job site that is crowded, unproductive and unsafe. In the article below from The Lean Builder, Keyan discusses what inventory waste is and offers a couple of tips for how you can eliminate it starting today.

Takeaway: Inventory waste is hard to combat. We want material when we can get it so we are not waiting down the line. One thing that we often fail to realize is all the issues that material brings us in the present, while we wait for it to be installed. It must be moved, protected, and replaced when damaged. I really love the idea of “nothing touches the ground” that Keyan shares, as it offers a solution to some of that material that you “must have on site early”. Implement this tip, along with a material delivery board, and see how you can eliminate this waste on your project.

Lean Podcast

The 8 Wastes are a cornerstone of lean construction and removing waste is one of our main goals as lean builders. But sometimes the 8 wastes can be tricky to spot. I know for me personally, I get so caught up in what the definition of each type of waste is, that I end up missing it in the field. In the podcast below, Jason shares a story from his career where all 8 wastes can be seen.

Takeaway: As I mention above, sometimes I personally get caught up in the definition of the 8 wastes instead of spotting waste and removing it. This episode, specifically the story that Jason shares, really helps me to see how much waste is really around us and how easy it can be to spot it. I hope this tangible story also helps you find AND remove waste on your projects and in your life.

Lean Event

Alright Tim, you’ve shared an article all about getting rid of inventory waste in the field, followed by a podcast with stories of waste from the field. What if I don’t work directly in the field, how can I eliminate waste? Wow, what a great question. Did you know there is such thing as Digital Waste? Think about your daily work stream and where you may see waste in it? Is there bad data being entered somewhere? Is the same data needed to be entered, manually, in multiple locations? How can technology help to streamline this process? These questions and more will be covered in the upcoming FREE webinar from Lean Construction Blog.

Takeaway: Waste is not just something for superintendents to battle in the field. We all have waste around us and need to work to combat it. Seeing what digital waste is may open your eyes to the lean world and change your work flow as a lean builder.

Real Life Lean - Lean practices in the real world

Being raised as a 90’s kid really put me (and my generation) in an interesting spot with technology. Some of my peers don’t even remember what pen and paper are, while others struggle to format a word document. I fall somewhere comfortably in the middle. Finishing college and starting a career as a builder, I was rushed back in time to a pen and paper world, and to be honest, I’ve been pretty comfortable with that.

My mentors loved pen and paper for notes, drawing mark ups and RFI generation. So, having learned from the, I too loved pen and paper. I would keep my daily to do list in a notebook that also contained my notes for RFIs, my reminders for upcoming meetings with the architects and notes for my trip to the grocery store on my way home. Not to say it wasn’t organized, but it just contained everything. I saw others that used digital platforms, and envied them. They had everything on their iPad, which was synced to their phone and easily transferred to their computer. Meanwhile, if I forgot my notebook, I was scrambling to find something to write on.

Fast forward to today. I started in a new role with Kanopy Group and knew there was an opportunity to ditch the notebook and get with the times. So, with a lean mindset, I set forth to eliminate pen and paper from my work stream. I grabbed my iPad and synced it with my iPhone (thanks Steve Jobs). I declined the offer to have paper drawings printed for my use and instead opted to download Autodesk Construction Cloud to manage drawings, notes and markups. I keep my daily to do list, as well as action items from meetings in a notes app. All of these small changes have allowed me to become even more organized and efficient and getting work complete. The flexibility that going digital has offered has been tremendous. If I forget my iPad in the trailer, I can still take notes on my phone and won’t need to spend time transferring those when I get back to my desk. Overall going digital has been a big change for me, but it has helped me kick waste to the curb.

I’m curious how you work? Are you mostly a digital builder or do you prefer the pen and paper methods? If the latter, I highly suggest you give some digital products a try,

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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