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Real Life Lean 027 - Construction Suicide Prevention

Happy Monday lean construction family and 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

Bottlenecks are all around us. We hear phrases like “I don’t want to be a bottleneck in this process”, “Oh we have to work with group x? They are always such a bottleneck” all the time on construction sites. In the 3rd article below (2nd with content)*, Hal Macomber and Terri Erickson talk about how teams can design bottlenecks into their production systems to BENEFIT the project team.

Takeaway: Bottlenecks exist everywhere and there is no getting away from them. You can either fight the good fight to “eliminate bottlenecks” or you can accept that they are part of your process and use them for your advantage. Proper bottleneck design can allow you to better manage the flow of your work and have more control of your project.

*Note - we are going to breakdown this series of articles each week on Project Production Management. This is week 2 of exploring these articles, with the link being to part 3 of the series. Part 1 is just an intro and can be found here.

Lean Podcast

Man, Hoots has been on fire with his Hoots On The Ground Podcast recently. If you don’t subscribe to this podcast, do yourself a favor and go do so right now, then come back here.

Today’s lean podcast touches on a dark side of our industry, and one that I was not aware of until a couple of years ago. I came across a post from Brian Winningham that shed light into suicide in construction and it opened my eyes up to the battle we need to be fighting. In this episode, Hoots talks with Brian Winingham and Julie Dolan on mental health in the construction industry.

Takeaway: The construction industry has a long way to go in this battle, but there are folks out there working to make a difference each and every day. Our industry is in need of a change in the way that construction workers are treated and it seems like we are finally starting to understand that.

Lean Event

This coming Wednesday and Thursday hundreds of construction professionals will virtually join Lean Construction Blog at their Lean Construction In The Field Conference. I have attended this conference the past two years and leave every session with takeaways and practical application tips for how to better implement lean construction on my projects and in my life. If you are new to the lean construction world, this is a great event for you to attend. If you are a seasoned lean practitioner, I am positive you will find value if these sessions and walk away an even more seasoned professional.

Takeaway: There is a ton of content coming out at this conference and even if you can only attend for part of it, I highly recommend it. I will be speaking on Thursday at 10:45PST on What does it mean to continuously improve? How do you build a culture that supports continuous improvement?

I hope to see you there. PS - Use Code Tim15 for 15% off any purchase.

Real Life Lean - Lean practices in the real world

Last week I sat in a site wide safety meeting as corporate safety leaders from our client spoke on projects going on around our campus. We have been battling a few near misses on the campus and our client felt it was a good idea to take a step back and have an open and honest discussion with leaders around safety and the culture we are creating. The corporate safety manager approached this discussion with a lean mindset, and to be honest I was a little shocked (and very excited) that they openly said we need to approach safety with a lean mindset.

The focus of our conversation was mostly around creating a job site culture where craftsmen are not afraid to bring up safety ideas, safety issues or safety violations that they are seeing in the field. We talked a lot about how to go from directing and mandating safety to coaching and leading the crews to being safe. Each and every discussion we had came back to “we as leaders need to coach the crews” and the clients corporate safety leaders encouraged our teams to NOT throw people off site for first time violations, but coach them in the right way to be doing things. We ended the week with a stand down that was focused on craft feedback and taking their suggestions and recommendations seriously. We as a site are bringing respect back to the trades.

This is was lean looks like. This is how you show respect to your craft - you care about them, you listen to them, you look out for them. One quote that I am hanging onto from this meeting is “Don’t look at calling someone out on a safety violation as a bad thing, look at it as preventing someone from getting hurt in the future. That is the best gift you can give someone.”

Lean doesn’t have to be a fancy system or a new tool. Bringing respect back to the people, creating a safer job site, is what it’s all about.

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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