Conditions of Satisfaction: What is it?

Conditions of Satisfaction
(CoS)

An Introduction to Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS)

In the design and construction industry, 70% of projects are delivered late and over-budget. The Lean Construction Institute aims to change that with a shift towards Lean thinking. 

Lean Project Delivery models have proven to be more effective at meeting time and budget goals thanks to the focus Lean methods have on collaboration and aligned goals between the various teams on a project.

However, sometimes it can be difficult to maintain alignment on goals in accordance with what the stakeholders need. Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS) guide the various team members on a project to make decisions that best benefit the project and its outcome.

Each CoS is a commitment, and all team members are responsible for delivering according to the CoS. By agreeing to and signing up to the CoS, the project team members make a Reliable Promise to one another. This behavior is aligned with the culture that needs to be present on a Lean/IPD Project. 

It’s crucial that the CoS clearly define “satisfied” with tangible, measurable aspects that the team can use to know if the project is an objective success.

What Does CoS Mean?

Conditions of Satisfaction are an explicit description by a customer of all the actual requirements that must be satisfied by the performer in order for the customer to feel that he or she received exactly what was wanted. In design and construction, the “customer” is the owner of the project.efficiency, respect for team members, and project outcomes including profits.

Conditions of Satisfaction Examples

Projects generally have between 8 and 15 individual Conditions of Satisfaction. When preparing the conditions, be careful not to include more than is necessary or the project can get bogged down and sidetracked. 

Remember that these are critical conditions for the project to be defined as a success, not wishes that the teams or owner may have for the project. Decisions about the project will be based on alignment with the CoS.

Often budget, schedule, and safety are addressed. Potential CoS examples include:

  • Number of months in which a project is delivered
  • Number of RFIs
  • Number of Change Orders
  • Number of punch list items
  • Percentage of below market cost
  • Percentage of operational cost improvement
  • Percentage improvement in productivity
  • Rapid improvement
  • Exceptional teamwork
  • All schedules developed and executed using the Last Planner System®
  • Total project transparency
  • Strong stakeholder involvement

When crafting your list of Conditions of Satisfaction, make sure not to rank them by “importance.” In the end, all of these conditions will need to be satisfied over the course of the project. Prioritizing certain conditions over others just tempts team members to neglect some of the conditions.

Elements of a Promise

In order for a promise to be quantifiable, it also needs to be declarative. “I will” or “I will not” are solid promises. “Maybe” or “I will try” are not promises and should not be language included in the Conditions of Satisfaction.

At the project level, elements of a promise in Conditions of Satisfaction include…

The Customer

In design and construction, this would be the owner of the project. They are the ones making the request, asking for a promise to be made and kept.

The Performer

In design and construction, this would be the design team members, builders, and contract workers. They are the ones following through on the promise and completing the project in accordance with the Conditions of Satisfaction.

conditions of satisfaction chart showing the customer, performer and the negotiation

Negotiated Conditions of Satisfaction

The agreed-upon framework between several parties involved in the project. They are the promise of the work that will be completed. Generally, CoS include a clause rewarding performers for keeping their promises (an incentive) and a clause outlining what will happen if performers do not keep their promises (consequences). Each element of the CoS must contain a clear explanation of how “success” will be measured. It doesn’t necessarily need to be mathematical in nature, but it needs to be tangible and measurable.

CoS: A Culture of Trust

Arguably the most important of the six tenets of the Lean Construction Institute for Lean projects is “Respect for People.” This is no less true when creating Conditions of Satisfaction or when making decisions with them in mind. Conditions of Satisfaction necessarily rely on the ability of the various team members to trust in and communicate with one another. 

If you have a habit of delivering on promises, owners and other team members will be more likely to trust that you will follow through on future promises. On the other hand, if you have a track record of breaking promises, your team members will find it harder to trust that you can be relied upon.

How High Performing Teams Help

High-performing teams are built on foundations of trust, even if their members have never worked together in the past. They have a track record of keeping promises and breaking down barriers to continuously find ways to improve and innovate on processes and outcomes. 

A high-performing team with a clearly defined set of Conditions of Satisfaction in a Lean Project Delivery model can find much more success in the design and construction industry than a team using a traditional delivery model. Conditions of Satisfaction bind teams to commit their focus to creating as much value as possible, allowing them to deliver an exceptional outcome.

Resources

eLearning Courses
Introduction to Lean Project Delivery
Gain insight to Lean Project Delivery (LPD) by understanding how the Lean System connects People, Principles, and Practices to optimize results by shifting both mindset and behaviors. The key achievable goal of this course is to prepare and enable team members with a foundational understanding of Lean approaches for daily use within a project environment.
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Introduction to the Last Planner System®
This course will allow you to gain in-depth insight to the practical application of the Last Planner® System (LPS) through multimedia, hands-on interactions, diagrams, worksheets, and more. The key achievable goal of this course is to learn how to engage at all five levels of LPS effectively on a day-to-day basis with a team implementing the system.
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Effective Big Room
Gain a foundational understanding of the concept of a Big Room by learning the benefits, purpose, and implementation considerations. Understanding how to improve collaboration and drive transparency within your team. Identifying venue types, set up, and activities that work best for your projects. Learning how to effectively advance work and learning to support the success of future projects.
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Lean In The Design Phase
Gain insight to Lean approaches and tools relative to the design phase of project delivery to optimize team communication, collaboration and results. Understand how a Lean strategy can drive innovative solutions by connecting People, Principles and Practices. The key achievable goal of this course is to prepare and enable team members with a foundational understanding of Lean approaches for daily use within the design phase of a project.
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Last Planner System® In Design
Gain a foundational understanding of implementing Last Planner System® (LPS®) during the design (pre-construction) phases of a project. Identify the essential foundational principles of the five conversations of LPS, gain practical application insight for each, and access key action guidelines.
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Target Value Delivery
Gain an understanding of Target Value Delivery (TVD) by identifying the different phases and components that make up the delivery approach. Discover how the Lean components interact together to improve the process and outcome of the project.
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LCI Publications
Transforming Design and Construction: A Framework for Change

William R. (Bill) Seed, Executive Editor

A diverse set of practitioners collaborated to create the Transforming Design and Construction: A Framework for Change book based on the transformative projects and experiences of their Lean practices. The papers, presented in short chapter format, are intended to encourage discussion, learning and experimentation individually or with a team. Read the first and most popular book in LCI’s Transforming Design and Construction series to gain a high-level understanding of various Lean principles, strategies and methods.
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Target Value Delivery: Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation

Executive Editors: Kristin Hill, Katherine Copeland and Christian Pikel

Target Value Delivery: Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation was collaboratively written by a team of more than 20 Target Value Delivery (TVD) practitioners to provide current state practical guidance to implementing TVD with a project team. This guidebook portrays TVD as an umbrella over Target Value Production for construction and Target Value Design by taking a broader approach rather than focusing only on the design phase. Read LCI’s second book in the Transforming Design and Construction series to gain practical insight to current practices for implementing Target Value Delivery on any project.
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Downloads
Project Conditions of Satisfaction
Explore a free overview of Conditions of Satisfaction with examples. Usually one CoS will address a budget objective, one will address a schedule objective, and one will address a safety objective. Download to learn more.
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