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Introducing Lean Project Delivery to St. John's, Newfoundland


Murray Guy and I had the privilege of spending a great day in St. John’s, Newfoundland last Wednesday delivering our Lean Project Delivery (LPD) Bootcamp workshop to a highly engaged group of construction professionals. Organized for the Construction Labour Relations Association of Newfoundland through the Construction Education Council, this was their first foray into the world of Lean and Lean Project Delivery practices. Each of the participants had little or no previous exposure to lean practices and all were eager to learn what all the ‘hype’ is about.

The session started with a quick review of ‘Why Lean’, where we reviewed pain points within the industry, poor performance statistics and discussed the business case for implementing LPD. From there we moved right into the first round of the Villego® simulation game.

The teams were surprised by the outcomes, taking in excess of 20 minutes to complete their build (shooting for 10 minutes or less) with large quantities of waste, many safety infractions and numerous defects. Even though all were experienced builders, it was interesting (but not surprising) to hear from the group that the process was “crazy”, “confusing” and “stressful”.

After a cool down period with coffee and pastries, we explored a number of lean concepts, identifying how they impact project delivery. First and foremost was a review of the eight wastes and identification of the acronym “TIMWOODS”.

Introducing additional simulation games, we discussed how to maintain an orderly site through 5S, exposed the impact of variation on work flow through the Parade of Trades game and introduced the concept of throughput and small batch processing with the Paper Airplane game.

Having refueled with a great lunch supplied by CLRA, we then introduced the Last Planner® System to the group, reviewing the Should, Can, Will, Did, Learn process, discussing the role of the last planner, introducing the concept of pull planning and the benefits of the visual process of planning with sticky notes.

Noting that you manage what you measure, we reviewed the metric of Percent Planned Complete (PPC), noting the importance of understanding and learning from actions and events that are impacting PPC.

We then jumped into round two of the Villego® simulation game, where the group implemented the tools and methodologies that they had just learned. It was great to hear the buzz in the room as everyone quickly jumped into their role and committed to engaging as a team to undertake the planning and construction of their house.

The planning process was focused, deliberate and undertaken as a team. The results, which again delivered on the ‘aha’ moment, saw the teams building in 5-7 minutes with minimal waste and no safety infractions or defects. The teams reported that the experience was “reliable” and “fun”.

Of course, every good lean event wraps up with a plus/delta session. As noted below, the participants were engaged, enjoyed the team effort, understood the benefits of the planning process and the need to change how we think about planning, and the fact that they felt empowered by the LP®S process.

A couple of comments from the post course evaluations sum up the general feeling of the outcomes of the workshop:

“Fantastic course! The balance between hands on and theory was excellent!”

“Excellent resource to see how we should be planning.

Stats to back up logic to show how well the system works.”

Oh, and the delta on the ‘Titanic Graphic’ (see buffer graphic shown earlier) is a testament to understanding (in our case not) your audience when delivering a workshop. Being in St. John’s, on the east coast, it was noted that this graphic was not sympathetic to the region and in all likelihood, brought up real (negative) emotions for some within the group.

Lesson learned.

Cheers from Saskatoon.

Ron Cruikshank, P.Eng.

Principal at Shift2Lean


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