Introduction to Generating Value
All over the design and construction industry, projects are filled with waste at every level. This waste mucks up project timelines and causes budgets to soar, creating headaches for everyone involved in the project and for the communities affected.
Here at the Lean Construction Institute, we believe that Waste and Value are two sides of the same coin, one a Yin to the other’s Yang. Thus, each time we reduce waste in a process, we are adding value. Generating value can therefore be seen as the ultimate goal of Lean thinking.
But to generate value in a project, you must do more than simply remove waste throughout project processes – you must understand what value means in the context of the project itself and train team members to know the Value Proposition of the project.
What is The Value Proposition?
The Value Proposition is what the owner wants from the project and process. The Value Proposition should be documented and displayed prominently internally so the team understands what is driving the project forward.
What Does Generating Value Entail?
To put your project team in a position to efficiently generate value, you must build a high-performing team of personnel who are not only knowledgeable and proficient in their fields, but are also open-minded team players who are willing to try new ideas.
Additionally, the team must abide by the other Lean tenets: Respect for People, Optimize the Whole, Eliminate Waste, Focus on Flow, and Continuous Improvement. These tenets all work in concert to foster an environment where generating value is possible.
Generating Value entails:
- Working and collaborating together with all key players early in the process to discuss and define the project’s Value Proposition.
- Prominently displaying the Value Proposition where workers can see it so the team remembers what is driving the project forward.
- Continuously working in harmony within your team and between teams to ensure waste is consistently identified and eliminated.
- Keeping an open mind for innovative ways to improve processes, in the spirit of Continuous Improvement.
- Communicating directly with the owner throughout the project to discuss ongoing project changes and any shifts in the Value Proposition.
Benefits of The Value Proposition
By bringing the entire project team together early in the process and establishing the Value Proposition, the team is better able to plan the project as a whole.
Thus, the team can look ahead to potential risks and opportunities that could arise throughout the process of the project, increasing the overall stability of the project and reducing the chances of something unforeseen causing damage to the project.
With greater team alignment via the Value Proposition, team members have a common goal and a reason to collaborate with one another. This collaboration can lead to stronger lines of communication and organization.
By breaking down communication silos, waste decreases even further as teams can discuss solutions to problems together, plan future project steps, and identify areas of waste in hand-off processes and working processes.
Teams that work together with a unified Value Proposition driving them forward have the opportunity to collectively increase workplace safety. Collaborative Lean tools such as 5S go a long way towards increasing organization and safety.
Even without using 5S, teams that communicate better with one another will necessarily lead to a safer workplace for everyone. This is because miscommunication is one of the biggest reasons why over 150,000 injuries occur on construction sites annually in the United States.
The ultimate goal of defining the Value Proposition and allowing it to guide the project is to generate value and to increase overall excellence throughout the project.
With reduced waste and increased value, chances are the project outcome will be much more satisfactory to all parties involved, leading to a result that everyone can be proud to have been a part of.
How to Generate Value
Identify and put together a high-performing team of individuals who are extremely capable in their field of expertise and who play well with others. These individuals should all be people who are capable of taking on leadership roles, even if they have no direct leadership experience in the past – Lean thinking demands that everyone take on a leadership role at some point during a project’s progression.
This is arguably the most important step in any Lean endeavor, as choosing the wrong individuals make the following steps nearly impossible.
Get every key member of the project involved in the process early to plan. This will be unusual for some members, but a Lean project is most successful when the design, construction, and trade teams are able to plan together.
Determine what the Value Proposition is and lay the groundwork with input from all phases of the project. Determine potential risks and opportunities and flesh out a plan of attack for each of those areas.
3. Be Transparent
Being transparent is about more than just communicating with one another – though that is important too. Transparency is also about streamlining those communication methods through visual indicators.
Examples include proper signage throughout the workplace, determining what the Andon cord is, and using color coding to mark materials.
Transparency also means being clear about your individual and team intentions, budget, and timelines. In the design and construction industry, it’s uncommon for teams to be forthright about these things, but a successful Lean project demands that these habits are broken for the benefit of the project.
4. Be Open-minded
There will be initial resistance among the team to a number of Lean ideas, as they often run contrary to what people are used to doing in construction projects.
For instance, someone may be reluctant to eliminate a wasteful step in a process because it’s a process they are used to, or because they lack an alternative. It should be the goal of the entire team to move past those reservations and instead to seek meaningful, valuable solutions together.
5. Improve Continuously
No process is ever perfect. If you’ve reached a point where you think there’s nothing left to improve, you’ve stopped thinking with a Lean mindset.
If you find that you or your team has gotten stuck, bring in another person or group of individuals to offer ideas during decision-making. New perspectives can uncover areas of waste and opportunities for growth that may not have been evident to everyone else.