The commitment to Lean Planning as the first component of Lean ensures Lean will not be used as an add-on or appendage in the organization, but as a system to accomplish the #1 objective--the organization's goals. To do otherwise reduces an organization's opportunity to fully use the power of Lean through the complete participation and involvement of the entire workforce.
Inside of Lean Planning, Policy Deployment is a process by which organizations deploy specific Lean activities/Kaizen Events throughout the organization so that the company's annual goals and strategic out-year goals can be achieved.
The component of Lean Concepts, like Lean itself, is simple: it is the elimination of waste to improve the flow of information and material throughout the entire organization and jobsite (the system).
Lean Concepts define the eight types of construction waste as:
2. Transportation-Material or Information Handling
8. Underutilized Human Resources
Remember, for an activity to be value added (not waste), it must meet all three of the following criteria:
- It must change the shape or form of the item. For example, creating an architectural model or installing plumbing fixtures.
- The owner must care about the activity and be willing to pay for it.
- The activity must be completed correctly the first time. Owners are unwilling to pay for rework or repair.
Lean Construction Tools
After developing organizational goals using the Lean Planning component, and understanding how wasteful activities prevent the achievement of those goals (Lean Concepts), the discussion can now turn to understanding the Lean Construction Tools. These tools, as shown below, serve two purposes. They identify the waste preventing the organization from reaching its goals and provide a tool for eliminating or reducing the identified waste.
For example, the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) tool's sole purpose is to identify waste. The remaining tools are then used to eliminate/reduce the waste that was identified in the VSM. If we identified in Lean Concepts that a particular project process was slow and had a long lead time, a VSM would be created to identify where the stoppages, waiting, and delays are occurring. If those delays are related to material or supply outages and shortages, the solution might be to implement the inventory replenishment tool--kanbans--or a variation of this tool--supplier managed inventories. If the delays are related to searching, hunting, and looking for items, files, drawings, or materials, the solution would be to implement the 5S tool.
The Lean Construction Tools area is where most organizations become confused and go off track with their Lean implementation. They think that, by implementing some of the tools, they will have a Lean organization. Skipping Lean Planning and Lean Culture prevents the improvements made by only using the tools from being sustainable.
The fourth component for implementing Lean is establishing a Lean Culture. Lean, as an organizational system, can only be built on the foundation of a Lean Culture.
Lean Culture is the component that makes it all happen, the component that musters the organization's most important resource--its people--to create an organizational
"war on wasteful activities."
The only major competitive weapon an organization has is its people. Most organizations do not have a lot of patents or technology that can protect them from their competitors or create barriers to entry into their markets. Generally speaking, it is the organization's people who make the difference.
Developing Lean Culture begins with the development of an organization-wide code of conduct/behavioral expectations during Lean Planning. Because the principles and expectations are developed in Lean Planning by the organization's Leadership Team, these expectations set the framework to be filled in by the following Lean Culture
Every organization has a culture, whether the Leadership Team has guided its development or the culture has developed on its own. Culture can have a positive or negative effect on an organization's performance.
To be successful with Lean, a company must be in balance. It must achieve the correct balance in using Lean Planning, understanding Lean Concepts, using the correct Lean Tools, and empowering its workforce by creating a Lean Culture. However, you must have all four components in process before you can announce that you are truly on the Lean Construction journey.