Lean construction delivery involves bringing together the tools and principles to empower a team to deliver value effectively. Lean principles form reliable, sustainable workflows. The end goal for construction with lean methods is complete integration of design and construction – the project and the team. As a process improvement, there are no operational silos with lean delivery. The key objective is a successful project.

The ultimate achievement of lean is when the team figures out how to deliver the best project together. The design and the construction processes are means to the end of delivering the project.

To implement lean construction principles, the best way to start is simple. Perhaps start with your meetings. Set an agenda so everyone knows why you are meeting. Get the right people to the meeting. Target the items that need to be accomplished, and when they are, conclude the meeting. Keep track of what needs to be changed about your meetings next time.

Then add another workflow of your processes to your lean journey.

For best results in your implementation, bring in your avid first adopters. These will be people who are excited about lean. They will help build grass roots excitement within your company.

Of course, you will need to have leadership support for your changes. Your company leaders will need to support this change taking place. It’s their job to find the value in making the changes that will be required. While it’s important for them to be involved, they do not need to lead the lean effort. In this situation, they need to make a shift to being more of a coach in the process. Their perspective should be: This is important to the company, so what can I do to assist? Their role should be support.

In your lean journey, be sure to acknowledge people for their contributions. Create a dialog among team members and build trust. Have the right conversations. Mark milestones and celebrate them. Be sure to also take note of what did not work well, and strive to understand why. Decide what improvements the team can make to be more effective. Your “lessons learned” will help you take action for better results next time.

You will need to equip your teams with tools, but the journey is not all about the tools. Yes, innovation and technology will help you move forward. However, you will need to think through and understand your workflows. Lean delivery does not reside only with the project team. Lean processes are about the entire organization contributing toward successful project delivery – that includes marketing, accounting, leadership, and operational systems.

As a final note, it is important for your company to do more than just “say” you are lean. You need to “be” lean. Ultimately, paying lip service to a process so your company looks good will not benefit you if the lean principles are not truly implemented and fine-tuned.

Bridging the Gap Podcast, episode 155 with guest Tammy McConaughy "Lean Construction: The Roadblocks and Shortcuts"​

Tune in to episode 155 of Bridging the Gap Podcast with Tammy McConaughy to learn more about lean construction principles.

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