In the February 2014 ENR Contractor Business Quarterly, a thought-provoking research article caught our eye. The article focuses on the proliferation of lean construction techniques and their recognized benefits. We could not agree more with the research and opinions of Harvey M. Bernstein and Donna Laquidara-Carr. Lean practices can, and do, have a positive influence on the outcomes of construction projects; the data is irrefutable. Higher quality, improved safety, increased productivity and greater profitability have all been reported by contractors who embrace lean. Which prompts us to ask the question, “Why is the AEC community not jumping in with both feet?” We think the time to do so is right now.
The responsibility of transforming an entire industry rests on the shoulders of all players. In our case: construction managers, specialty trade contractors, architects, engineers and owners. In the case of transforming the culture of a single project team, that is a lot of people to get thinking on the same page. As the article suggests, someone has to take an active role in creating this culture of change. The most forceful catalyst for change is, of course, the owner. As we see in the healthcare industry, the rapidly changing laws, regulations and standards of care are mandating the aggressive elimination of waste and giving rise to new lean cultures within these healthcare organizations. Professional service providers, like we value-adding contractors, engineers and architects, will have to follow suit.
As lean tools, such as pull planning, building information modeling, prefabrication and high-level collaboration like the Miron C5 Process (Capture, Create, Communicate, Construct and Confirm), become standard practice on the jobsite, reliable project outcomes will become more and more common. The cultural shift among all project players will be unavoidable and irreversible. Miron Construction is active in the Lean Construction Institute, Wisconsin Community of Practice, whose mission is “To Expand the Knowledge and Practice of Lean Construction in the Wisconsin A/E/C Community.” Please visit the healthcare page of our website for more information about our experience and services and the Lean Construction Institute‘s site to learn more about lean.