Lean Into It

And so there I sat, mouth agape, as my customer and construction industry veteran Bill Black explained, “The commercial real estate construction process is broken and mired in waste. Seventy percent of all projects end over budget and late, while up to fifty percent of the construction process is consumed in non-value add work consisting of delays, cost overruns, poor quality deliverables, and work that has to be redone.” I was blown away; I had never witnessed an industry executive speak so plainly and with absolute authority on the need for his entire industry to change dramatically.

As I continued to speak with consultants and operations managers in other industries, the same manifesto for change and elimination of waste seemed to come up over and over. They hailed from healthcare institutions, government, financial services and manufacturing – the common theme among all these agents of change was the stream-lining of work, elimination of waste and one word in particular kept coming up over and over again – “LEAN”.

At the center of the lean management philosophy is people and culture – how we communicate and collaborate, how work is visualized by the team and how each employee favors the success of the whole, rather than just their piece of the puzzle. Lean is collaboration. Lean is social. But how can it be transformed and the benefits significantly increased through cloud computing and mobile collaboration? The answer becomes clear once immersed in the context of an industry’s journey of transformation.

At Leankor, we’re just beginning our lean journey in the heavy industrial and commercial real estate construction sectors, where general productivity gains have stagnated since 1968. Some of the reasons are more systemic with how construction owners define, award and manage general contractors and sub-contractors, but other reasons are fairly straight-forward and can be addressed through new thinking and proven methodologies such as lean construction, integrated project delivery (IPD) and workface planning.

Leankor Welcomes Renowned Adviser Team

It’s been a busy time for leankor, but I commit to post much more often. I’ve been demoing early “Alpha” builds to lean experts and end users far & wide — taking in feedback and tweaking features/direction where needed. Along the way I have met some absolutely phenomenal individuals and asked them to come on board as advisers.

William (Will) Swope: A seasoned technology strategist, Will spent a significant portion of his career at Intel where among other roles, he was Vice President of their global ISV alliances. I met Will while at SMART and we hit it off immediately. After I left SMART he and I stayed in touch and I eventually talked him into helping mentor/guide my growth as a budding CEO.

Anand Nicodemus: Anand has been a lean six-sigma practitioner for decades and frequently lectures at Mount Royal University on lean management. He is also a director of the Kaizen Institute, Canada — a chapter of the world-renowned lean consulting organization. I met Anand at SMART, where he was leading several concurrent kaizen events and business process improvement initiatives. Anand introduced me to the finer details of lean implementation and practice and continues to provide keen insight and guidance through the Kaizen Practitioners Group (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Kaizen-Practitioners-4834336).

Mike McAloney: I met Mike via Anand and the Kaizen Practitioners Group. He is a VP at the Association of Manufacturing Excellence and VP Operations at NovAtel, Inc. and extremely well versed in lean management principles and real-world implementations of lean. Moreover, through the AME, he is immersed in lean application to industries such as healthcare, construction and services. In fact, Mike reminded me that the largest segment of lean practitioners joining the AME conferences are in the healthcare sector!

Built to Last: A Lean Startup’s Journey

A few years ago while still with SMART Technologies, I was introduced to the lean management movement. Little did I know at the time that lean had broken out of the manufacturing sector a decade prior and was permeating energy, construction, healthcare, government, financial services, logistics and almost every process-intensive industry. In fact, the venerable McKinsey & Co. had become one of the top lean consulting firms in the world!

But the more I listened to lean consultants, the more I saw an unmet need — a way to sustain lean initiatives for the long-haul while leveraging all these iPads and SMART Boards organizations were deploying to enable collaboration and to visualize work. Leankor was born from the desire of CEOs and executives to build an operational excellence program that lasts beyond the initial consulting engagement or quarterly “key initiative”. And from the desire of line managers who want to have visibility into work-in-progress as well as employee accountability in deliverables they own.

At leankor, we also use lean principles to run our company, frequently quoting from The Lean Startup when debating strategies & tactics. But running lean is more than a book, more than a fad and more than just “doing more with less”. It’s putting the customer at the center of everything and making sure value flows quickly, efficiently and without hesitation to that customer — every day of every month of every year. So how can a set of tools help with this? No software to install. No hardware to provision. Just instant gratification.

Well, here we go. It’s going to be one heck of a ride and I hope you’ll join me in building the best lean management toolset the world has ever seen. Sign up for our Beta. Join our LinkedIn and Twitter feeds, and join others in the discussion.

Emilio Bernabei, CEO/Founder