Felipe Engineer-Manriquez is the brain behind the podcast The Easier, Better, for Construction Show, which focuses on Lean IPD in construction and sharing how to make large construction projects easier and better. The following questions are an extract from Episode 11 where we chatted about: Building with Integrated Project Delivery (IPD).
What is one of the biggest advantages of embracing Lean IPD in construction?
One time, I heard an owner say that he is going to choose design-build, because he just didn’t have the in-house project managers to do the upfront work setting up the projects for success. Let’s face it, starting out with Lean can seem like more work. If you feel/think that way, you are definitely right. However, I've never learned more about design and construction and how things work than being on an IPD job surrounded by experts and working through issues.
Typical questions that come up are:
Why should we use different structural systems or different ways of cooling the building?
What are the different ways we can distribute the power?
The most fun thing is doing Target Value Design and watching how much project engineers on their first job absorb and learn. Because in a traditional environment, you get rewarded to work only in your own discipline, you've not exposed to the other disciplines the way you are in a Target Value Design approach.
How many times do people on traditional projects get the opportunity to hear other cross-functional teams presenting on options? We never see that in traditional delivery, ever! And you couldn't even see it at a conference. I've never even been at a conference where they had a mock big room cluster report out.
You said in your podcast that Lean equals a mindset of learning. Can you explain this?
Last year, the Lean Enterprise Institute published an article on Planet Lean about the lean marketing canvas, in other words, how to market Lean in your organization but also externally. Unfortunately, a lot of Lean experts are not marketers. They do their job and don’t spread the word.
I had a new person start recently, who has become one of my mentees. When she was asking what Lean is, I told her that, fundamentally, Lean equates to a mindset of learning. Learning is the biggest thing apart from other principles, such as respect, for example, for the other team members. If you don't have that, you won't be into anything else. Lean teams need to continuously improve and learning enables that to happen in a sustainable way.
What should a brand new team member do first when coming to the construction site?
The most important thing for new people on projects is to familiarize themselves with the purpose of the project, the big why for what we are building. It may be found in the Big Room or be a part of the orientation. Getting the summary about some of the key concepts of the project are as important as to why it is being built and how we agree to work together.
Starting out with Lean is not a quick fix. You have to work to make it happen. And it takes some time. And if you want it to happen faster, I suggest immersing yourself in all the articles, videos, and podcasts out there on lean construction. And I don't think you need a PhD in this stuff to start practicing it. It’s a matter of making a decision, rolling up your sleeves, and getting your hands dirty. In other words, taking action!
I define integrated project delivery as a combination of a contract, lean construction principles, and a collaborative culture. You can do IPD without lean and lean without IPD. If you don't have a culture where people want to work together, it won’t work. It’s that simple.
What are some qualities people on Lean IPD projects should adopt?
First and foremost an inherent humbleness. I know what I'm doing can always be improved and that I need to go learn from other people and then improve what I am doing. Practicing this attitude of humbleness in a team scenario is even more powerful. If members of Lean teams have the courage to be vulnerable and admit that they are stuck or that something they tried didn’t work, that’s a great first step towards improvement. It also fosters good relationships between the members of the team.
A lot of the people in Lean teams I have worked with over the years have become friends. Whereas previously, I often couldn’t wait until a job was done and I would not have to work with the people again. My first IPD job was an eye-opener. After we finished the project, all the trades and designers went out together for dinner to celebrate a successful project. That was great! And I couldn’t wait to start my next Lean project.
In the podcast, you mention that the smartest people are your allies. What do you mean by that?
It’s simple. There's a lot of good people out there and, in IPD, the smartest people are your allies. If you have an adversarial contract, the smartest people are going to kick your butt every single day. They are going to outwork you. And if you think you are not that smart, you better get these guys on your side to help you out. So, Lean teams are always in helping mode.
Feature image: Lean Construction blog
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