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A Master Builder in Action

As an early adopter of Lean Project Delivery in Canada, I felt very lonely on my lean journey. With only Google, the book Broken Buildings Busted Budgets, a desperate client that was $10M over budget, it was a miracle that we were able to deliver an exceptional RCFE project. In hind site it was mostly with heroic efforts, collaboration and an awesome hand picked team, rather than the implementation of well defined lean project delivery system that enabled success.

With no formal training on lean construction, it was time to head to the 2011 Lean Construction Institute National Congress to learn about the Last Planner System, Pull Planning, Multi-party Agreements and Target Cost Design. Attending a Lean conference was like putting a kid that loves candy in a candy factory. The event was so dam motivating for me that I spent the next four years flying to the candy store and spending my whole allowance developing my lean tool box. At one of the first conferences I met Jack Avery, a Master Builder from Sellen who was cool to hang out with and became an informal mentor. This relationship recently came in real handy as I needed to show a client how a Master Builder plies his trade.

On a recent project in Victoria, our Shift2Lean team facilitated workshops and coached the Kinetic Construction Team on Lean Project Delivery systems. We first had the Last Planner System bootcamp with the Villego Simulation, we pull planned the current phases of work, we established weekly meetings to coordinate work, improve the process and remove constraints. But there was something missing in the motivation and discipline for managing the process. The initial efforts helped get the process started but without seeing the Last Planner System in action on a real project by a real master, it was a hard sell to establish buy-in and the discipline needed to execute the system. Time to go an a Gemba walk!

Fortunately Jack offered to show the Kinetic Team how they deliver lean construction projects. We jumped on the opportunity to tour a 45-story residential tower that they were building for Amazon. As an early pioneer in lean construction practice, Sellen has built strong relationships with clients like Amazon, leading to securing negotiated work to enable them to avoid the tendering game. By becoming a reliable solution provider able to address Amazon's challenge of developing quality space fast enough to handle it's amazing growth, Sellen has become a preferred contractor.

The Gemba walk of the Amazon project provided the Kinetic Team with the inspiration needed as the team witnessed what a fully coordinated lean project looks like, WOW. It was a symphony of lean construction productivity. The site was 5S clean, work was fully coordinated in Takt time zones with one trade per zone, Just-In-Time supply and installs, optimized sharing of equipment and hoisting systems.

We had timed the Gemba walk to coincide with the Weekly Coordination Meeting to see first hand the high level of coordination and production work flow that can be achieved by an experienced lean contracting team. The approximately 30+ trades reported out in the one hour coordination meeting. The team achieved close to a 90% percentage of planned work completed (PPC) for the week. The project was close to being topped out on floor 43 and there were suites on the main floor that were clean, locked and and ready for M&E systems to be turned on.

It is really amazing what we learn when we get out on a GEMBA walk. How masters of lean implement brilliant systems with average people to achieve exceptional results. The reward is repeat business by negotiated work with clients that understand value, relationships and the lean way of doing business.

It was also so encouraging to see that Tom Plumb of Kinetic Construction got recognized as a Champion for Change at the recent LCI-Canada conference for his gung-ho buy-in for lean practices in how he runs his business and delivers his projects.

Murray Guy, @Lean_tobe_Green

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