Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

An Interview with Melissa Quintana, Lean National Project Manager, Hermosillo

We were thrilled to speak with Melissa Quintana, Lean National Project Manager, Hermosillo, about her 2024 Congress session, Lean Waves: Transforming Construction in LATAM.

Along with her colleagues Cesar Valdez of Hermosillo, Susana Armas of Prologis and Felipe Engineer-Manriquez of The Boldt Company, Melissa will share insights about Hermosillo’s pioneering voyage employing Lean to revolutionize industrial development in Mexico and beyond. Their presentation will chart the course of their initial introduction to Lean, driven by international client demands, through the establishment of LCI Mexico and the expansion of Lean principles across Latin America. This tale of transformation demonstrates how Lean can drive continuous improvement and propel our industry into a new era of efficiency, value, and respect for people.

Join us at the 2024 LCI Congress, October 22-25, in San Diego for this session and many more! Register today for the best available rates.

Building more than buildings—people, teams, and culture.

Melissa oversees integration and implementation of Lean projects in Mexico for Hermosillo. She shared, “I manage an amazing group of people who play crucial roles here. They share responsibilities on the outcome of projects and that helps us create a culture of accountability and of continuous improvement. And we work with project leaders and clients to define value through the whole life of our projects.”

We discussed what she likes about her role, and she offered, “I love it. I see people grow, and as they grow, we grow together. When I started in construction, I learned how you can build things and now, I’ve learned how you can build people, relationships and teams.”

Pioneering Lean in Latin America.

Melissa is thrilled to share Hermosillo’s journey at Congress during its session, Lean Waves: Transforming Construction in LATAM. She’ll cover its “nine-year journey of understanding, learning, and loving Lean and navigating this culture of transformation.” The session will highlight the initial challenges, including working in a “country where no one had heard of or worked with Lean, and how that led us to connect with other Lean pioneers in Mexico.”

“We started building a community with other Lean leaders in Mexico and helping each other. We grew to understand it wasn’t just about working with Lean and having trade partners and clients understand it. It was about helping them in their own Lean journeys. We built a strong connection within the Latin American community and were talking about how to implement Lean in the Latin American industry. It’s different from the textbook. Lean applies for every culture and project—we just need to find the way it fits. Our Lean journey has been inspired by the people in Mexico and Latin America, and they help us grow,” offered Melissa.

Doing better together.

Melissa hopes that attendees gain “actionable insights on embedding Lean culture not just within their organization or company but to leverage partnerships and learn together.” She noted that, “At the LCI Design Forum, I heard a comment I loved: ‘We know we build together, and we do Lean together. How can we collaborate together?’ And that’s what it’s about—how do I learn from you, and you learn from me, and be better together,” said Melissa.

Interested in Lean transformation? Join this session.

We asked who should attend this session, and Melissa replied that “Anyone interested in transforming their organization through Lean principles, whether in the beginning stages or expanding their journey, should attend. If you’re just starting, you can see and understand what challenges you might face and how to work through them. If you have been on your Lean journey for years, we can learn, expand, and refine Lean strategies together. I want everyone to understand that Lean isn’t just about your project and your team now, but the people you will work with in the future.”

Melissa’s favorite Lean tools.

Melissa’s first favorite Lean tool was The Last Planner® System. She shared, “I love planning. I love numbers. It’s the first Lean tool I started to love because I realized you can see the results in the first few weeks.”

Her recent favorite Lean tools are Scrum and Retrospectives. With Scrum, she offered,
“I love the blending of Lean and Agile principles for faster projects is amazing. Embracing change helps you understand that it’s okay that things are changing, and this will help you do things better.” With Retrospectives, she noted, “We can address every challenge and needs. At my core, I like numbers. Then I understood Lean is not about the numbers. There is so much more. We don’t need to give solutions. We need to first understand the problem. We need to listen to our people and understand the real need.”

Continuous improvement is the basis for transformation.

Melissa shared that “Continuous improvement is the basis for it. Cultural transformation is not easy. We need to embrace growth. We need to love the opportunities to grow and challenge ourselves. If we start every day by challenging ourselves to make things better, you can really be engaged in this transformation.” She noted that, “Retrospectives are the key. They cultivate awareness of the areas for improvement. I embrace them and get inspired every day.”

To make continuous improvement stick, focus on the people.

“Focus on the people. They are the core of continuous improvement. People are the center of their own lives. We need to understand and help each person be better. How can you address that in an organization? You need to show how having a Lean mindset can help your people and change their lives,” Melissa shared. For example, she noted that, “For me, one thing important to me is my kids. And with Lean, I get better results and more time with my kids.”

She added, “Listen to your people and their needs. We need to understand what their needs are and address them in a way that makes sense to your team. That’s how you get engaged people. Then that change is going to stick in your organization, and then stick in the industry. That’s how you can make a lasting impact on the organization.”

Hermosillo’s First IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) Project was for P&G.

Melissa shared, “I worked on our first IPD project in Mexico in 2020. There are not many here. When we hear more about them, we see a bright future. There is so much more we can do. We worked with IPD on an international project for Procter & Gamble (P&G), their first IPD project in Mexico. That was a challenge, but it went well. We are doing two more with P&G in 2024.

The challenge is to get national clients to know and understand IPD and its benefits. We are working on that.”

Building on Design Forum.

Melissa and other members of the Hermosillo team attended Design Forum earlier this year. She noted, “We loved Design Forum—the city, the content, and there were so many ideas. We wanted to work with Target Value Delivery (TVD_ for such a long time and loved the TVD series. It gave us a great understanding of how you can do it. Our team was able to understand it in one day. I give it a 10 out of 10. We hope we will have a success story about working with TVD for our next project.”

Why Melissa looks forward to Congress each year…

Melissa has been attending Congress since 2009 and loves it every time, for many reasons:

Community building

“Congress strengthens our community. We built a strong relationship within our community in Mexico and Latin America. We want to strengthen this community and work together with other CoPs and grow together. That’s something I love at every Congress.”

Inspiration and a recharge

“The main reason I go every year is to be inspired and get recharged. You always get something new. Even if you’ve been doing it for years, you get inspired by amazing people doing amazing things. Every year, you take away so many things. In the operational part, you always have challenges. There are amazing months and some frustrating ones. Then you come to Congress and get new ideas and it’s a recharge.”

“This is my first time presenting and I’m looking forward to inspiring others.”

Getting out of your silo

“How can you foster continuous improvement? By going to Congress and listening and getting outside your silo. That helps you do better. We come back with new things to implement each time.”

Sharing Lean with new people—Bring the team!

“Every time, we take people who haven’t come before, and I see them get excited. It’s different when they hear a group of people—when they see what they can do. You see there’s so much more. If you think you’re super into Lean, there’s still more.”

“We sent a large group, 13 people, to Design Forum this year. They loved it, and an even larger group is coming to Congress. This is the first time Hermosillo is presenting, so we expect to bring around 20-25 people to Congress.”

Embracing Lean as a journey

“I love the word ‘journey’ for Lean, because it is a journey, not a goal. It’s a journey you love. It’s about consistently doing and learning. We take new people to Congress, and they see other things they can do and achieve.”

Make Congress the next stop on your Lean journey. Dive into the program, gather your team, and join your Lean community in San Diego! Register today.