Lean is one of the most important trends sweeping through our industry today. The Lean Construction Institute recently received the Henry C. Turner Prize from the National Building Museum for Innovation in Construction for the positive effects it has had on projects and processes within our industry. By following a few basic steps, it is possible to improve our projects and businesses to create safer, more effective workplaces for everyone involved.
As defined by the Lean Construction Institute, lean is meant to “maximize value and minimize waste.” Lean is all about removing waste from our projects and our business, and it is personal—YOU need to do it.  Don’t get hung up on tools and fancy programs, because people are the first ingredient in a truly lean process. To get started, all you have to do is follow this simple approach:
1. Identify waste.
The first step in removing waste is to see the waste.  Some questions that may help you identify waste are:
  • Who uses your work product? Your answer to this question pinpoints your customer.
  • Does your (internal or external) customer want what you produce?
  • Is the format right for them?
  • Is it timely? This means not early, and not late.
  • What annoys you about the process you use?
  • Which steps cause you to waste your time?
2. Remove waste.
Now that you have identified the waste, the second step is to remove it. Work with your group to remove waste and improve the things you do. Start with something small that you can do to affect your world. Organize your tools, your workspace, your materials, your desk, and your data on your computer.  Save a few steps or a few keystrokes each day and you will quickly find that you are removing waste.
3. Share Improvements.
Google “2 Second Lean” by Paul Akers and look at some of his videos. Through his videos, he shares a variety of small ways that he has learned to be more effective in his day-to-day activities. When you come up with a good idea, implement it and share the idea with your team by making a short video with your phone—this way, the entire team is able to increase efficiency.
What other easy steps can you take to go lean? Tell us in the comments!


  • Victor Sanvido

    Senior Vice President

    As a senior vice president, Victor Sanvido is responsible for delivering engineering-led, integrated lean project delivery services to end users in Southland’s target markets. With an emphasis on lean design and lean construction techniques, he has been instrumental in developing integrated teams for a variety of healthcare clients. Formerly a professor of architectural engineering at Penn State University, Dr. Sanvido has writtenover 100 publications and remains an active leader of several industry organizations.

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