The use of Lean and collaborative delivery methods increases team performance on Major Projects

The greatest impact you can have on a project outcome is in the early phases, where during the concept design thinking, you create some of the success frameworks for delivery through which your project will evolve.

By the time you’re at the pre-construction, execution phase and beyond, it’s likely there’ll a whole lot of inefficiencies built into the project which result in many different types of waste.

Taiichi Ohno, whose founding role in the development of the concepts of Lean birthed the concept of Lean Manufacturing, identified 7 key types of waste all of which are very relevant but mostly invisible or ignored on large / major projects:

  1. Mistakes or defects;
  2. Overproduction of parts, raw materials, steel etc;
  3. Stock or Inventories waiting around for a next stage in any given process;
  4. People waiting for things to happen, materials to be available etc before they can proceed;
  5. Unnecessary processing, doing things which are actually not even going to be required;
  6. The mobilisation of teams where they are not required; and
  7. Transport of goods that was not really required.

The same basic wastes occur just as much in most major projects as they do in manufacturing, causing expensive losses of time, money and negative morale.

The quality of the thinking and planning work done at the outset can however greatly reduce waste, but how do you do this, if the systems in place are already inefficient?

Lean Manufacturing, Lean Construction and Lean in an Enterprise, is all about the elimination of inefficiency and waste with a focus rather on high-performance cultures and efficient processes. The results include improved profitability, more engaged clients, more motivated teams and in many cases increased environmental sustainability.

By changing your up front thinking and the way you engage with your key clients, stakeholders, JV, Alliance, PPP or other project partners you can have a really positive influence around the success or failure or projects measured off the traditional time, cost, quality safety parameters we all ultimately live by.

A simple video description of some of the Lean Construction concepts can be found here:

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia and Wellington New Zealand http://www.hunterdean.com

 

Could Continuous Improvement (CI) be simpler than you thought?

Continuous Improvement - Hunter Dean

Imagine if you could build continuous improvement (CI) into your business simply and easily? Since I’ve been seriously involved in performance improvement I have seen so many organisations get themselves all “Lean, Business Process Re-engineered, or Six Sigma’d up, then the teams who are now qualified go out and get few if any results. There are so many organisations who have so much potential but for many different reasons just never get the results.

Continuous Improvement vs Top Sports People

As an ex sports person (I’m now a has been!) I remember jumping in the pool at 18 and not being able to swim two lengths. At the time my aim was to be a decent triathlete, I asked my squad coach how long it would take to get my 1500 meter time down under 23 minutes in the pool. The coach was a nice guy and also trained the commonwealth games swimmers, bizarre I asked given at that point I couldn’t even swim two lengths. Anyway, the coach told me probably 3-5 years, so I set a goal to break the initial time asap, and nine months later I had broken it then within two years had my time down under 20 minutes.

Follow a proven process…

So how does this relate to CI, well like sport what’s crucial is you have a process you are going to follow that’s a proven process. This can be incredibly simple though, for example in a business it might just be that from this point on we are going to run a whiteboard system that tracks production performance week on week. We will have meetings with the key leads, on a monthly basis set specific stretch goals and do a lessons learned on the prior month. In the pool knew I needed to swim better and that it was going to take some time, once I had a process, action was really all that was needed. In the pool there was actually very little I knew about what would speed me up, I just needed to trust the process effectively following the rules on the whiteboard our coach put up each morning. Most other starters actually never did this, they made up their own rules and or often varied from the process as they felt they “Knew better” etc.

Jack Welch (ex) CEO of GE and the man that really put his money where his mouth was around CI, shares 2 mins and some simple thoughts about CI -and keeping it real…

How about just starting?

Don’t wait until you have qualified people, don’t wait until you have all the answers, start a CI process now ASAP. The number of organisations I see trying to build the perfect CI model, and or a strategy for CI that will at some point (once the function is fully built) bring massive results. Just Start!

DMAIC

One example simple 5 step model for continuous improvement is the DMAIC process, its simple, the steps include:

Define – identify, prioritize and select a specific area / project to work on
Measure – key process characteristics, the scope of area you want to enhance
Analyse – identify the key causes and process determinants of the current state
Improve– change the process in order to optimise performance
Control – if/once it works lock in the changes by creating a new process

Okay, sure there are books 1700 pages and longer on DMAIC and related process improvement methodologies. However, like swimming if you follow a simple version and, use it consistently it will actually still work. You already have your subject matter experts SME’s – (Like the swim coach) and they already have the answers. Most people that came to the swim squad were not consistent, they were lazy or focused on too many different things. When one guy came and was worse than anyone he’d seen in ages, but coming back his performance improved much faster than most others.

We all need to improve our game…

Major benefits of a process like DMAIC include the fact that improving key process & or business issues is something every team member is faced with sooner or later. DMAIC’s logical approach can make it a simple backbone of effective process improvement initiatives. Having a simple structure like this is good for high-risk areas, without structured implementation, issues will likely return when people decide to do it their way either because it suits their project or it is the ‘way we have always done it’.

A process like this helps find root causes, so effective countermeasures can be formulated and it is designed for creating sustainable results. (See future article on finding root causes) It also makes improvements part of how we do our business as usual work.

In conclusion like the Triathlete who couldn’t swim but wanted to, often it’s just about about getting on with it not necessarily waiting until you have all the answers. Serious improvement and results are possible in many areas in most organisations and on major projects. I’m continually surprised by what people in organisations put up with. It would be great to hear your stories about teams that took action, and saw change occurring fast through the use of a process that was proven and with consistent effort.

  • What successes have your teams had?
  • Why have you had CI failures and what lessons did you learn?

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia www.hunterdean.com

 

Business Results & Collaboration

Collaboration is a funny word, and ironically many of us are not to good at it.

Think about it – when someone cooks dinner at your place, who does it, do you share the duties? Often one person will do all the cooking and another all the washing up. Often one person becomes great at one of these two things. In business you often have a similar occurrence.

John is great at the Project Management schedule but never gets it together around creating solid relationships. So his assistant becomes great at doing it, and does it so well John never gets out to see his people when part of his role was to be out on the work front. So how could you use collaboration in a way that it would absolutely revolutionise a team’s results in your business? Being able to identify and management your talent in such a way that the transfer of “What they know & do” starts to occur organically within your organisation.

Business Teamwork - Hunter Dean

  1. Look at how often you setup specific learning tasks for the people in your team who are not at the top?
  2. When you have meetings with the team what are the expectations you set?
  3. Do you have a selection of your team sharing the things that made the biggest difference to them across the past month, censored by you
  4. Do all team members leave the meeting with structured things to improve on based on where they are at?

How do you then meaningfully sit with all these people in order to ensure the skills, behaviours and attributes that matter are being learned? By consistently considering these factors organisational change can occur faster.

If some of the above is ringing bells also consider the %age greater sales or production & productivity your best people create against those struggling, and consider what changes could you make to your own style of leadership around knowledge transfer and collaboration.

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia www.hunterdean.com

What is Lean Construction and or LPD – Lean Project Delivery?

Are you the delivery manager or project director on a major road, rail, mine or other construction project in Australia? Have you been hearing about how Lean Construction techniques may be able to significantly help your teams on site improve the way they do things?

Are you sceptical Lean Construction sounds like a BLACK BOX solution

I WAS!

Have you heard about it from several people who’ve not been able to “Pinpoint” exactly what it is or how and what it might do for you on your project? Does it seem to you a lot like TQM or other improvement methods you may have experienced across your career?

Lean Construction or LPD explained in one paragraph.

Lean Construction is a process to change the way workflows occur on projects so they are more predictable and reliable. On every construction site there are wasted resources e.g.: People standing around at times doing nothing, too much inventory sitting around on site, machinery not being used but being paid for etc. On work sites the average work complete each week verses that scheduled by teams sits at 40 to 60%. In other words most weeks work teams should have achieved 40 to 60% more productivity BUT THEY DON’T.

This results in project finish dates and budgets that continuously blow way over what they should be in costs and time.

Lean construction is a set of tools that enables major projects to streamline workflow reliability and predictability on sites. Its core focus is around optimising the project not the individual pieces, and it does this through making changes to the way project managers, superintendents, engineers, designers, procurement teams and others do some of the following:

Schedule using new methods

  • To increase performance
  • Have meetings that work
  • Track and monitor project costs
  • Use metrics on site that motivate

Lead in a new way

  • To collaborate with all teams
  • Spend (or not) spend time at sites
  • See the value of integrating supply chains into their processes

Use Continuous Learning Methods

  • Use continuous improvement in construction
  • Map value streams in to improve fabrication methods
  • Capture and transfer learnings through technology
  • Quality check without paper
  • Use CAD & BIM in new ways

Having spent time with some of the Co-Founders of Lean Construction I became intrigued by how easily major projects can benefit by training their teams in these methods. This is not a one size fits all methodology but is one where almost every single project can find benefits.

Lean Construction Greg Howell - Hunter Dean

Hunter with Greg Howell one of the Co-Founders of Lean Construction.

I have not yet in this post mentioned the actual tools that have made Lean Construction famous like Pull Planning, Last Planner, Weekly work plans etc.

If you are interested and or are a sceptic like I was, then now may be the time to start looking into this field.

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia www.hunterdean.com

Succession with Performers

Succession with Performers - Hunter Dean

There are almost certainly some people in your business who if you were to loose them you won’t cry about it. There are others who are the life blood of your business however, perhaps in Project or Executive roles and when they go, it can be a big problem!

In many businesses, succession planning for high performers and talent management is done through a process like making sure you have where possible, at least one off site a ¼ then having drinks with those people you’re a little worried about, to find out what the true story is around their ambitions

The problem with this kind of process and it may not look exactly like this, as it might be a six monthly thing, or you might get one of your team a person you know really well to find out things for you.

Consider four ways of ensuring you know exactly where people are up to on your team, so you don’t get nasty surprises.

  1. Setup agreements with your people so that you’ll let them know if you were ever going to make a move somewhere else with some decent notice and be specific. Ensure in this moment that they also commit to letting you know if they were getting itchy feet or wanted new opportunities, and make sure they commit to giving you the same notice period.
  2. When new people start after 4-12 weeks consider having an up front “Performance Management” style type meeting, this is not to tell them they need to pull their socks up, but more to set the scene for the future, and yes you might even address some tiny niggles early.
  3. Keep the dialogue open between all your team members and understand where your market is at. Are there many opportunities and head hunters calling daily in order to try and snap up your best people. Or is the market really quiet in your neck of the woods.
  4. Find out what your best people value most and make sure you are delivering them what they value. In Sales environments part of this might be about money, but ironically often it may be more about recognition, and often people miss this, until it’s too late.

Have a look at what Jack Welch from GE says about the treatment of people, and just have a think about whether

1) You Agree
2) If you do, is your business treating its people like this? If you don’t, do you have a process that’s really working?

If you are in a business where you often have your people leaving and whether they are good or bad start to look more carefully at what you are and are not doing to mentor your people. The true cost of most team member losses is hidden in many monthly financial reports, why is this?

Well in the past financial reporting has not been smart enough and even today is not able to track the “True cost” of losing a person. Below are some things to consider, the numbers are rough but start to have a think, if you are losing people its probably costing you far more than you imagined! Below the salary is only $70K and being conservative true costs might look like.

If we were to track the true cost to the business of people leaving you would need to consider things like:

Person Leaving Average Salary $140K = $12K per month

  • Recruitment Costs
    – Cost $16K
  • The time it took to get them to full competency (4 months)
    – Cost $48K
  • Time other people “Internal Trainers” spent to get them confident
    – Cost $30K
  • The time peers in the business spent with them (2 months)
    – Cost $24K
  • All the Managers time $200K Salary spent (2 weeks across a year)
    – Cost $10K
  • Loss of productivity from down time while you the role filled
    – Cost $20K
  • HR Team member costs
    – Cost $10K

Total Cost $168K

Now that’s only on the outgoing person who may have only stayed 12 month’s to two years, you will now need to incur all these same costs on retraining the new recruit and if you get it wrong again…

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia www.hunterdean.com

 

Identifying & Replicating Talent

Replicating Talent - Hunter Dean

The key to talent management is one organisations face every day. How do you go about:

  • Developing it, keeping it?
  • Working out what and who it looks like?
  • Finding where the talent lies?
  • Figuring out if your internal talents are flexible enough to be able to send where and when you like?

A good brief on where we are as regards talent and organisational change in the market was posted by Peter Cheese from Accenture – see below.

High performers are at times also high maintenance; and you can’t just string them along because often if you do, they’ll walk! In the past 10 years, we have seen several times that high performers in organisations are the least liked by their CEOs, senior managers and sometimes even peers.

This can occur for many reasons. Some of the common ones are:

  • They are so focused on getting their own results that they don’t care about others
  • They have no need to prove themselves to others and hence do what they like
  • Often they are happy to speak their exact mind and do, sometimes leaving a trail of blood

So what can or should you do to manage your organisation’s talent and how?

  • Work out what you are measuring with. Some organisations use Psychometric Tools to analyse and draw conclusions as to who is the best. Some of these tools actually specify behaviours 1-7 as good and 8-10 as bad. Or “this” works, and “this” does not, hence Joe is better than John.
  • Understand where your workforce is ultimately headed. Have a workforce planning model that works for your business needs. At times, organisations don’t even know where they are headed with regard to recruitment. How many people who are talented are about to leave or have just arrived? There is little knowledge on where the best recruits are going to come from, and hence it’s tough to plan for the future.
  • Make sure you have a formal process of recognising who your best people are and where they lie. Have this process be one that is not one-dimensional, e.g. It should not rest on a high-level manager saying, “Great, that guy is talented.” Decisions should be made scientifically such that it takes several different internal opinions, stakeholder reviews from different divisions, and external client feedback to recognise who is “really talented.” The ability to road map the exact distinctions around why high performers have been so successful should be based on your organisation’s specific context and not necessarily on broad-based “Role Success Maps” that often have gaps in terms of your industry.
  • Have ways of replicating how you are going to find more and more of these people. Consider that often the industries where they may be working may not be the same as your own. How can you behaviourally interview these people in a fail-safe manner? For example, when Microsoft recruits senior managers, they may interview candidates 5 or 6 times, including one-on-ones with 5 different people, and then panel interview them at the end, putting candidates under such immense pressure during the final phase that they know who truly is talented under pressure.

A formal and scientific model of Talent Management in big companies is essential to make sure you keep, recruit, develop and retain not only high-performance individuals, but also high-performance teams. One of my long-term clients is considered an expert because he knows his people inside and out. Long ago, my client recognised the best performers and what they offer, having mapped what they do best and where they can then mentor others. This person’s ability to subsequently replicate these talents, which of course lie in different areas across the team, enabled him to gain significant and continuous improvement.

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia www.hunterdean.com

Technology Rollouts & Performance

Technology Roll outs - Hunter Dean

Good technology roll-outs really count. Many people I have worked with over the past few years often face the tough experience of having to make decisions around new technology that will fundamentally affect business results. In the years, I have noticed many clients have been pushed into situations where things must be upgraded urgently (due often to a merger).

Often this technology is something like a new platform, a best-of-class project management system or a set of core capabilities the business has never had. At times, these needs arise from a system that was put into the business 20 years ago and since then the IT team have been building bolt-on solutions. Eventually it reaches the point where there are so many workarounds for the users that everyone just considers the system a massive handbrake. Organisational change has to occur, as the focus for increased performance is greater than ever.

A good example of this kind of new technology is how Schneider Electric approaches its ambitious goal of bringing energy to everyone on the planet in a way that is safe, reliable, efficient, and green. By using what was at the time of implementation a new technology Salesforce, Schneider is much better able to connect with customers, provide greater service and speed in the field, and now leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to connect products and users around the world. A great example of high performance technologies making a difference http://www.salesforce.com.

The general solution is to spend many millions on new technology to consolidate workflows, reduce time taken to get information, or find the right information etc.

What often actually happens though is this:

  • The project goes over time and budget and the change management process fails
  • Only specific users get the new technology right and they were the high performers anyway
  • The strategic planning done prior to implementation was nowhere near robust enough & so major gaps appear with the implementation & roll out to users
  • The final product offers only 60% of the capability promised and the system workarounds continue

If these were the only blocks faced after implementation, funnily enough the situation would actually not be too much worse. The problem is that this is only the start often there are many other implications. Like while implementation is occurring, sales and/or service levels drop and sales managers start to get punished for their lack of results.

Many users get disillusioned and they start to either leave or look seriously for jobs in competing businesses in the same vertical. This causes increases in staff turnover and a need to then recruit more people at a time when training and reducing the time to competency for new team members is not the highest priority. Finishing the implementation and knowing the systems core capabilities actually collect “all” of the data accurately and can be used to get results is the priority.

So what’s the answer? Consider the following:

  • Who is on the roll out project team and why are they there?
  • Who is missing that should be there? E.g. possible managers of users who know what functions have to keep on going not matter what
  • Have you looked at who your absolute best talent is and how they can add value to the project?
  • What kind of mini pilots have you or are you intending to run prior to getting serious about the roll out?
  • If you have gathered groups of high performers to do the testing, have you then ensured these people are trained in knowledge-transfer and work-place training techniques to get your population back to its core results capability ASAP? How is this behaviour change actually going to occur on the ground?
  • What kind of knowledge-capture processes do you have around the more “tacit” or informal smarts the high performers have? How do these apply in the “New” technology platform or world? How are these to be transferred? How is your talent management process taking this into account?

Making sure you have covered off the above at the very least will enable you to keep leveraging your best people to transfer their results across populations. Sometimes you may need to bring in technology providers you have never thought of prior to the project. In fact, this might not become apparent in any of the project design phases and might only be discovered during implementation.

Author: Hunter Dean see https://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterdean/ for LinkedIn Profile

Based in Melbourne Australia

http://www.hunterdean.com