Lean & 5 S's #79 Feb 2012
***************** Corrective Action Needed
One area where most contractors are challenged is ‘corrective action’. There are several parts to this concept that bear review. First, corrective action is not just about doing something to correct a problem. It is also about taking steps to prevent the future occurrence of that problem.
Shigeo Shingo, a leader in continuous improvement, once described the difference in this way. He said that implementing only a stopgap action is like using ice to stop the pain of appendicitis. An appendectomy is the real answer.
Corrective action is getting to the root cause and taking a countermeasure to prevent that cause from happening. Doing corrective actions is still not enough. What is needed is a corrective action system. Without the system, how does one know if any action was taken, what was done, and if it indeed did prevent the problem from happening again? A corrective action system need not be complicated or require new and expensive software. The system should include a log where all problems requiring corrective action are recorded. The log needs to describe the problem, dates, the assigned person to take the action, when it was taken, and the action. It also should include a method where management regularly reviews the corrective action log. Managers should not only ensure that action has been taken, but should study the various causes of corrective action to see if there are any trends or patterns of reoccurring problems.
*************** What to measure?
In the construction industry there is a constant debate over measures. We claim we can’t measure our work and yet we measure lots of things, many of little value. I would like to share a few thoughts on where to start in defining what we should measure.
First, measure what is important to the customer. We exist to serve our customers, so we should look at how we are doing in meeting their needs. The big three customer needs are: Quality, Schedule and Cost. Cost may be first among equals in today’s economy. So develop measures that tell us if we are on or off track or in meeting those requirements.
Costseems to be the easiest to measure, though not necessarily the easiest to manage.
Schedule appears easy – did we finish the job on time or not? However, the date can be a moving target. We start the job with a set delivery date. Just days/weeks into the project the GC (and owner) want it done faster. Often the scope changes and work is added, possibly moving the deadline. So when we finish the job, which date is the real date to measure against? This is not an easy question, but can be resolved for each project. In the end, the measure should be designed to show if we met the schedule or not, as seen by the customer.
Qualityis meeting the customer’s valid requirements. For some reason that seems harder to measure than cost and schedule. Punch lists and warranty work are partial measures. The late Philip Crosby, a world-renowned quality guru, said we should measure quality in terms of cost. We should collect the number of times we have defects such as welding errors and add in the cost to repair the punch list and warranty work. Basically, anytime we have to redo something, we should capture the real or a standard estimate of the cost, and sum it as the cost of poor quality. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, but takes focus and commitment.
Two other measures I feel we should use are: safety and employee morale. We already measure safety in terms of lost-time accidents per man-hours worked. There may be more useful measures to explore such as near misses or scare incidents.
Though less used in construction, there are several measures for morale which can include employees absenteeism, the percent of workers starting on-time each day, participation in Lean improvement (quick and easy Kaizen) and employee turnover (not due to job completion). We can also ask employees about their attitudes by doing satisfaction surveys. To be effective, this survey need to be done more frequently than once every few years and need to ask the right questions in a simple direct format.
Lean will not be successful without the engagement of front line workers and support staff. They will not care how much we try to improve until they know we care about them. Measures should never be used as a punishment or to “catch” someone doing things wrong.
So, start by measuring QSCSM. I am sure someone could rearrange these letters into an easy way to remember, but the important thought is to start measuring them.
*************** Last Planner System ®
Project management is really all about people and communications. Hal Macomber suggests some key communications that will improve project management. He calls these declarations that the project manager needs to make regularly to ensure all of the project workers understand the plan:
1. The purpose for the project. What success is for this project. The team needs to understand what is “value” to the customer. For some jobs the completion date is more critical than the budget? For others budget is first among equals.
2. The roles on the project and who is assigned to do them. Everyone needs to understand who is responsible for doing which functions. Most processes break down in the handoffs between people. This often happens when each player is not sure of the other’s roles and responsibilities. For example: Who orders material missed on the detailing sheets? Who tracks back orders? Who receives material drop shipped to the site; and where does the bill of materials go?
3. The field of work for the project.Employees especially need to know what work will be done on site and what will be fabricated and assembled off site. Misunderstandings here can result in duplicate effort and labor.
4. The rules of behavior.Can employees choose to attend or not attend specific meetings? Is smoking allowed within the facility? How is everyone expected to act around the facility owner’s employees? Must people check-in on a regular basis? When are reports and logs due? A PM must be very clear on how employees are to act.
5. The winning strategy for the project. Is the plan/design in stone or are there possibilities for value engineering or innovative ideas?
Mr. Macomber likens projects to games – one must know the rules to play effectively. One also needs to know if there is room to improvise or if each crew must run the play as called from the bench. When all team members understand the rules of the game they are better able to perform and win, and expectations do not turn into disappointments.
The Last Planner System is a registered trademark of the Lean Construction Institute.
**************** Learning Opportunities
You may be interested in attending one of these training seminars:
Feb. 23, 2012- Eliminating Treasure Hunts – Applying the 5S’s for Lean Construction - Sponsor – P.I.P.I. & 469 JAC – Phoenix, AZ - contact Cathy Mayeux at email@example.com for details.
March 22, 2012- Advanced Lean Techniques– Sponsor: P.I.P.I. & 469 JAC – Phoenix, AZ - contact Cathy Mayeux at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
April 26, 2012- Designing and Achieving World-Class Performance in Construction- Sponsor – P.I.P.I. & 469 JAC – Phoenix, AZ - contact Cathy Mayeux at email@example.com for details.
May 9, 2012 – Lean in the Service World- Sponsor – P.I.P.I. & 469 JAC – Phoenix, AZ - contact Cathy Mayeux at firstname.lastname@example.org for details
May 24, 2012- Job Planning That Really Works- Sponsor – P.I.P.I. & 469 JAC – Phoenix, AZ - contact Cathy Mayeux at email@example.com for details.
If you are interested in bringing one of these workshops to your company or association, please contact Dennis Sowards.
Other Lean Learning events
Feb. 22, 2012 - Concrete Evidence that the Lean Approach Saves Time and Money,Presented by the Houston LCI CoP - Houston, TX. Registration details are at: http://lci-houston-0222-2012.eventbrite.com
Feb 23, 2012 - Last Planner System - Implementing on Your Project, Presented by LCI New England CoP - Waltham, MA. Registration details are at: http://lci-new-england-02-23-2012.eventbrite.com
March 7, 2012 - Implementing IPD, Lean Construction and BIM through Design Build, presented by the LCI Los Angeles CoP, Monterey Park, CA. Registration details are at: http://lci-los-angeles-03-07-2012.eventbrite.com
March 21, 2012 - Intro to Lean, presented by LCI - Albuquerque, NM. More details to come.
March 21, 2012– How to start implementing Lean– Presented by the LCI Arizona COP, Phoenix, AZ. More details to come.
***************** A Quick Thought
People don’t resist change they resist being changed.
- Peter Scholtes