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.  


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