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How to Win a Construction Relay Race


The key to winning the "the race" is to assemble a team of players that are lean, fit and committed to completing their leg of the journey on pace. It is essential to practice getting the pace and the hand offs right as we know that dropping the baton is disastrous to team performance.

A good starting point to is to hand pick "the team" and then send them to boot camp to get on the same page. On the first day of boot camp we learn the basic techniques needed to win races. On the second day the team establishes a race plan by breaking the race up into phases, weekly work plans with regular check-ins for team fitness levels. Fortunately there is a guide that outlines the steps on how to win "the race." [1, Last Planner System Guide, Ron Cruikshank]

Sequence the Legs to meet Challenging Interval Times

One of the first steps will be to pull plan the the race and determine the interval times required to hit the milestone of winning the race. This is achieved by getting the team up to the board to collaboratively figure out the best sequence for each leg of the race.

The key elements of the Pull Planning Process are:

  • Develop the sequence and rate of the workflow

  • Define and plan how the work is to be done matched with capacity

  • Define and remove constraints

By having all the runners (Last Planners) involved in the discussion, and with open and collaborative dialogue, it becomes easy to identify what actually is needed to accomplish each task and eliminate waste in the process. It is important to keep the race plan posted in a room big enough for the team to see all the intricate details of the plan. This helps keep the team visually focused on the work ahead and clearly understand what work is required before a particular task and who is subsequently relying on that handoff.

Get Commitment to Hitting Fitness Level

The weekly work planning session is when the last planners make solid commitments to what will (or will not) be done. The closer you are to race day, the more detail you will need regarding what has been done and the more reliable you can be in committing what interval times will be achieved.

The ability of a provider to make a reliable promise is contingent on their ability to say no, when they have a legitimate reason for not being able to complete a task. The collaborative planning process is contingent upon:

· If you make a promise, keep it

· If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make it

The weekly planning meeting is not just for planning work for the coming week. It is also for reviewing work that was promised the previous week, identifying what was completed and what was not. Tracking the Percent Plan Complete is the primary metric for understanding the health of the team and the progress being made.

Making commitments in an open and collaborative manner is key to the success of winning the relay race. By having all of the runners (Last Planners) in the room, all trades are aware of the work that will be happening in the coming week and can ask questions to clarify issues and identify opportunities.

Making a commitment in public provides positive pressure to ensure that task is completed as promised, as you are fully aware of the consequence of not passing the baton as planned. The weekly work planning session is where the action happens in the planning process – plan the work, then work the plan.

Create FLOW @ the Daily Team Huddle

The daily huddle is where the runners prepare for the days run. This meeting, typically a stand-up meeting, is short, to the point, and focuses on the following:

· What commitments were completed yesterday?

· What commitments will be completed today?

· What constraints have surfaced that will affect your work?

· What manpower will be on site and materials delivered?

· Are you on track to meet the overall plan?

The daily huddle allows the entire team to stay on the same page and provides early warning of issues that can affect production and workflow. The team can then review and adjust the plan as necessary in real time in order to get work flowing.

Clearing the Way – Constraint Removal

In order to be able to move work from what CAN be done (the 6 week look-ahead) to what WILL be done (the weekly plan) the team must ensure that there are no constraints that will impact the plan and the flow of work. Failure to identify and remove constraints in an effective and efficient manner not only affects physical progress , it can also manifest itself in poor team health as providers become frustrated that work is not able to be delivered as promised.

Winning at the Construction Game is as simple as breaking "the race" into manageable PHASES, establishing a collaborate PULL PLAN that best sequences the work and then committing to weekly production that enables the interval times needed to win "the race." Simple as that!

If you want to learn how to play the game you may want to attend one of the following boot camps.

  • Target Value design is a system that focuses on creating value for the customer Optimize Value with Target Value Design

  • The Last Planner System was designed to create FLOW on construction projects Cross the Finish Line Early with the Last Planner System …

[1] Last Planner System, Shift2Lean, Ron Cruikshank

Murray Guy, @Lean_tobe_Green, Connect on LinkedIn … Email

Integrated Designs, EcoSmart Developments & Shift2Lean

Murray Guy @Lean_tobe_Green

#pullplanning #leanconstruction #leanprojectdelivery

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