Generating Lean buy-in on your project
By Andrew Mondragon
With all the benefits that the Last Planner System® and Lean processes have proven to result in, implementing Lean on project sites remains surprisingly challenging. Depending on the project team, resistance points can emerge anywhere from the trade partners in the field to the owner’s office. So, addressing buy-in should be top of mind before fully utilizing the Last Planner System. To help you get the ball rolling, we want to share a few tools and mental frameworks to help you more easily and effectively introduce Lean on your site.
Use an alternative frame
Given all the benefits, why do we still have difficulty generating buy-in from all levels of the industry? It could be that we’re looking at the problem all wrong. In psychology, loss aversion is when we avoid losses more than we try to obtain gains. Essentially, the feeling of loss hurts twice as much compared to the satisfaction of gaining something.
Knowing our loss aversion tendencies, it’s important to place industry issues at the forefront and highlight the losses we can expect to take if we do nothing to mitigate them. With supply chain headaches and a chronic labor shortage significantly impacting the construction industry, it’s time now more than ever to build upon our capabilities to offset these challenges. After all, potential losses play a much more significant role in people’s decision-making than potential gains.
When trying to implement Lean practices within your team, you’re doing more than just implementing specific processes and procedures. You’re building on the expertise of your trade partners to generate continuous improvement on this project, which can ideally be implemented on your future projects as well. A great way to do this is to start with small, incremental steps that will build strong collaborative habits along the way. The daily huddle is a perfect tool to bring all your trade partners together to explain their daily scope and potential constraints that may arise in the field.
Once you pair this routine with visual aids, it enhances your team’s communication capabilities many times over. By this point, your trade partners are discovering constraints ahead of time and communicating ways to mutually resolve them. The reason this process works is that these short, consistent daily huddles are an arena where your team gets to practice active, public, and voluntary commitment-making among the group. This process is where empowerment comes into play, and buy-in starts to grow.
Get buy-in from the right stakeholders
One of the more critical steps when building Lean practices and generating buy-in is to get support from the right stakeholders. The support of executive leadership is vital when working towards sustaining Lean practices over the long term. However, that buy-in often dilutes the closer you get to the jobsite. So, ensure you have formal and informal leadership that can emulate Lean and Last Planner System ideals on site. By including these key stakeholders, you generate a form of social proof about how others should respond and act.
Trade foremen are a perfect example of formal leadership that will help compel team members to join the process. Moreover, finding an informal leader, such as a seasoned trade partner, who will visibly support these new Lean habits will be highly effective since influence is often best exerted horizontally rather than vertically.
Put it all together
Building Lean habits on your jobsite can be difficult, especially if there is existing resistance from prior experiences. In these cases, it’s important to enable both formal and informal leaders to model the importance of building upon the team’s skills and processes. Focus on building trust by highlighting small wins and making the benefits of implementing Lean tangible for everyone involved.
About the author
Andrew Mondragon is part of the marketing team at Bosch RefinemySite, a cloud-based construction collaboration platform from Bosch that uses Lean principles to enable your entire team – from owners to trade partners – to plan, communicate, and execute in real time. Based outside of Boston, Andrew has 6+ years of construction design experience as a licensed Mechanical Engineer and is currently an MBA candidate focusing on workplace strategy and business development.