Reflecting on KA’s Lean Journey
by Al Gerhardt, COO, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company
Reprinted from the Kraus-Anderson Lean Annual Report
Let’s reflect on what our Lean Journey looked like in 2016 and the stage we set for 2017. I am intentionally using the term Journey to describe our progress as Lean isn’t an accomplishment nor a destination.
In 2016, KA took big strides with Lean.
It was, and remains, one of our top strategic priorities in our overall KA strategic business plan. We are continuously improving in every sense of that term (culturally, strategically and operationally). I believe it to be a gradual progression of our culture to focus harder on the two pillars of Lean: continuous improvement and respect for people.
These pillars are consistent with our core purpose:
To Build Enduring Relationships and Strong Communities.
Our core values (Integrity, Commitment, Teamwork and Valuing People) illustrate just how fitting Lean is for our culture and ultimately for our success. We made significant progress on our Lean journey in 2016.
- We appointed Kyle Woody as our Lean Champion. Kyle has focused his career on Lean and is providing leadership and structure for a more formalized approach to what Lean means at KA.
- We researched, developed, rolled out and implemented our Lean Strategic Plan (a best practice of Lean organizations). This plan includes eight initiatives, which this annual report elaborates.
Examples of Lean Thinking at KA
- We invited all of our top leaders to read This is Lean, and then facilitated conversations about this important construction industry book.
- We used A3s to solve problems
- We accelerated our use of Plus/Deltas in our internal meetings and in meetings with clients and business partners.
We now have forums for open dialogue about how to improve KA, which empowers our people to make a meaningful impact on their future and the future of our organization. These Lean Coffees are facilitated by our numerous Lean devotees. They are already improving the experiences that KA creates.
We now have numerous pockets (but not enough yet–ever?) of Lean learning cultures sprouting on certain projects and within KA as a whole.
At KA we see problems, we solve problems, and we spread what we learn. Our goal for 2017 will be to capture and communicate better what our early adopters have learned, to help all of our employees and the partners we work with more clearly understand the virtues of lean and how it can positively impact the experiences we deliver to our clients.