Lean Principle - 3 Enemies of Lean

As a contractor works to continually improve their project delivery including labor productivity they can look at three major categories (or “enemies”) of a lean operation:

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Field Productivity: Lean Principle 3 Enemies (Waste Overload Variability)
  • WASTE: Too many steps in the value stream don’t add value.  This is typically seen in lack of profitability and/or lack of competitiveness.  
  • OVERLOAD: Pushing equipment and especially people too far beyond their capacity to the point of unproductive stress.  The right level of stress drives performance but too much overload impacts safety and sustainability which negatively impacts performance in the long-term. This problem is often masked if management is only looking at financial reporting because profitability can look great in the short-term. They must be looking at other metrics such as safety incidents including near misses and employee turnover as well as an honest subjective assessment of morale.  
  • VARIABILITY: Inconsistent results whether at the estimating, purchasing or installation levels.  This can be both at the project level and the company level as a whole. There will always be some variability but rationalizing away too much will impact performance.  

Many of these are related to stages of growth a contractor goes through from emerging to hollow to scalable.  

Identifying then improving each of these requires disciplined management of the details.  


Learn more about improving operational effectiveness


Labor Productivity
Field labor is the often the biggest variable on a construction project - making it the biggest risk and opportunity....

Labor Productivity
Field labor is the often the biggest variable on a construction project - making it the biggest risk and opportunity....

Predictable - Productive - Scalable
Look at every task and process including your business as a whole as developing in three major interrelated stages.
Quote about Winning - Bob Knight
There is an excitement about winning and definitely a need to instill that vision and passion in your team. This however is just the top of the mountain and reaching the summit is momentary. It's the discipline of preparing to win that is critical.
Labor Productivity - ToT / MRI
Labor productivity IS NOT the biggest problem with project productivity. For a contractor nearly every process in the company must be focused around these three areas