by Kyle Woody, Lean Champion, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company
Reprinted from the 2017 KA Lean Annual Report
If you ask the average person to explain a Lean company or project they’ll likely connect it to notion of “cutting the fat.” Which makes sense, the word the world chose for the management system literally means “less fat.”
Let’s unpack why this notion is all wrong.
Imagine you love fresh, delicious, thick-cut, meaty fatty pork bacon. You might think “Lean Bacon” would be that cheap low-fat turkey bacon that tastes like cat food.
But you’d be wrong. If you love fresh, delicious, thick-cut, meaty, fatty, pork bacon – “Lean Bacon” would be fresher, tastier, thicker, meatier and even fattier. And healthier too!
Because the people that wanted to sell you their bacon learned that simply pumping it full of sodium wasn’t the best way to make it tasty. They learned a better way. And in learning that they created a product that people like you will gladly pay more for.
But we don’t make bacon, we build projects. Projects that are meaty, and healthy. Our favorite clients don’t pick our fresh, delicious, projects up off the shelf and look for the price. They look for our world-class ingredients. And the ingredients they care about aren’t just our processes or our technologies, because those things don’t build buildings, people do.
It’s all about respect for people.
Our people and partners are what’s essential – and we have the best in the business. The management of other organizations sees their people as the problem to be solved with systems and processes. At KA it’s exactly the other way around. Our systems and processes are the only thing preventing our people from reaching their full potential. At KA our goal is unleashing all of that potential.
Lean isn’t about cost cutting, slashing prices, or workforce reductions. It is about focusing on value, eliminating waste, continuous improvement, all built on a bedrock of respect for people.
As a result Lean isn’t just something KA “does”, it’s who we are. We’ve always respected our people, we’ve always expected excellence – that respect and those expectations cause us to behave differently, and those behaviors have made our reality as a leader in our markets.
“Happiness is the joy we feel striving towards our potential.” – SHAWN ACHOR, Positive Psychologist
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – ARISTOTLE, Lean Construction Guru