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    LCI Congress 2019: Making Lean Personal

    November 29, 2019

    Twenty-nine delegates from across Balfour Beatty US converged on Fort Worth, Texas in mid-October for the 21st annual Lean Construction Institute Congress. The Balfour Beatty delegation included both lean novices and experts representing many Balfour Beatty roles, including project managers, superintendents, project engineers, preconstruction, virtual design and construction, marketing and human resources professionals.

    The overall theme of this year’s Congress was “overcoming our industry challenges with lean solutions.” More than 1,600 attendees comprising a wide diversity of roles in the design and construction industry attended over 100 training or best practice sharing sessions. Topics included developing a continuous improvement culture, improving safety and quality, increasing personal or trade productivity and target value design and delivery among others—all to improve project outcomes.

    To make the most of their Congress experience, Balfour Beatty delegates identified their own specific needs and challenges. A deeply meaningful internal theme, “Make Lean Personal,” emerged to represent Balfour Beatty’s call to action. 

    The theme intentionally aligns with Balfour Beatty’s Zero Harm theme of “Make Safety Personal” with the idea that if we make lean personal, everyone can make small improvements to their work, thereby maximizing the value of every work hour and promoting a continuous improvement culture throughout our organization. Each delegate committed to identifying at least one lean practice that they could implement immediately to improve and advance Balfour Beatty’s lean transformation.

    Balfour Beatty presented during three of the general breakout sessions, continuing to share progress on our lean journey. The following Balfour Beatty teammates presented with their teammates on their project’s best practices and lessons learned:

    Richard Ryan, Senior Vice President – how the PennFIRST team transformed preconstruction by steering towards targets and using risk and opportunity tracking to increase cost certainty

    Andrea Klein, Project Manager – how ‘leave-out planning’ enabled the PennFIRST team to maximize owner value by selecting medical equipment at last responsible moment: 

    Sarah Michaelson, Project Manager – how the St. Elizabeths West Campus Central Utility Plant 2 project team used lean planning in design and a unified BIM workflow to deliver all design packages on time with higher quality and enabled prefabrication on a complex underground site
    Brad Vawter, Superintendent – how the Osprey team used a Prescient digital and manufacturing platform and enabled higher density and faster schedule than traditional stick-built construction 

    All our conference delegates came back inspired and energized by the experience. They are committed to continuing the conversation and working together on continuous improvement. Below are a few solutions they identified that can be immediately implemented to improve anyone’s workday:

    Paul Studley, Superintendent – Last Planner and Pull in Production
    “The introduction sessions on Last Planners and Pull in Production revealed to me a better way to communicate, engage and empower the trades with the daily huddle methods. I have already gone through dry runs with our construction superintendent and foremen and can’t wait to see this in action.”

    Michael Hite, Field Operations Director – Gemba walks
    “Gemba walks are more than just a production or safety walk. They are about reflecting and asking others to reflect on what can be improved. This can be applied in the field or in the office. Take time to talk to people. Pay attention to what they say is working and not working and what ideas they have for improvement.”

    Mauricio Pereira, Field Engineer – Visual boards
    “Use visual boards to improve communication, including: inspection board, constraint resolution board, three-week lean dashboard, and metrics and learning board.”

    Amanda Patton, IP Manager – Implementing a new process
    “Implementing a new process is trial and error. What you are doing is setting up a prototype. Creating an environment of humility where there is freedom to fail and extract the lessons learned from the failure is critical to improving and perfecting the process.”

    Erin Branham, Director, Brand and Communications – Fostering a lean culture
    “We must foster a culture of psychological security in which the effort of trying new things and ‘failing’ is not seen as a negative but instead as a pursuit of continuous improvement with small victories celebrated along the way. Lean is a journey!”

    At Balfour Beatty, we believe that whether your goals are increasing productivity, improving safety, minimizing defects or more personally reducing time in meetings or working weekends, each improvement leads to a better and more satisfying career and profitable, sustainable business.