Construction Lessons from the Beach by Abigail Olson

Article written by Connor Butler

One of the keys to successful construction projects is creating reliable work flow. This is why the lean construction community pushes the Last Planner System. Often teams go through the motions without really understanding the reasons why, or they simply comply and halfheartedly implement something because someone has told them to.

There is a great example of how reliable work flow helps performance at a beach near you this summer… Paddle Ball. Paddle ball is played on the beach between two (or more) players that use paddles to hit the ball back and forth between each other. Success in paddle ball is not about being super nimble, making diving catches or hitting the ball extra hard (or soft). The secret to good paddle ball is to return the ball in the exact same place every time. I once saw an amazing demonstration of paddle ball skills by an elderly women on the beach in Tel Aviv. She arrived in a wheel chair and her family helped her into the sand and onto a stool. She proceeded to put on a CLINIC in paddle ball. She had a good partner who delivered the ball in almost the same place every single return in almost the exact same spot, allowing her to return the ball without moving her feet.

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Safety Week - Day 5 by Abigail Olson

Article by Mike Trulove

Man oh man.  We did it.  It is Friday and that means we’ve completed another safe week at work!  Great job team.  I really like how this week we really focused in on how we impact each other’s behaviors by talking everyday about what we are doing.  The communication was spectacular, and I really want to highlight how the team rallied around the ever changing site conditions this week and allowed the 500 ton crane to relocate due to bad weather – Awesome job and we still got our planned work completed as promised without any delays.


With the National Safety Week wrapping up today, my focus is to talk a little about the last part of the Last Planner System.  The Learning.  When we engage in collaborative planning all through the Master Plan, the Phase Planning / Pull Planning, Weekly Work Plan, and the Daily Huddles the only way I know how to capitalize on the effort it to learn from what has been taking place.  We call this the PDCA cycle.  Plan, Do, Check, Act(learn).

First we want to look to see how well we are planning our work.  This is easily accomplished by using the Percent Plan Complete or PPC.  It is determined by # of tasks complete/ # tasks planned for completion.  Remember there is No partial credit – Either 100% or not.  This is so you can really understand the variances in why a task did not get completed as planned – THEN you can look for ways to improve for the next week when planning similar tasks – That’s the learning part.  This process is easily applied to planning work safely.  Maybe as you are carrying out an activity you figure out a safer way, put that into the plan.  We are always learning in construction, we are always wanting to improve how we are working, we do this to keep our people safe, that’s what we do.  And that is why the construction industry is the BEST industry to be a part of. 

In closing for the week, remember safety starts with Me.  

Have a great day and be safe out there.

Safety Week - Day 4 by Abigail Olson

Ok everyone can’t leave ya hanging on day 4 of the National Safety week.

 So today, as we continue on with the theme of how Lean Construction can impact jobsite safety by utilizing the Last Planner System.  We are going to talk about the Daily Huddles.  Which by the way are my favorite! 


Why, well because it is a daily check in that all the ‘Last Planners’ are getting together for a quick 15 minute coordination meeting.  This meeting is specifically for the Last Planners.  We talk about what got accomplished the day before, what we are planning on doing today(which has already been planned & agreed to by the team), and then briefly if the activities for the next day are still on target.  It is during this Daily Huddle, that everyone has platform to talk through any changes in the working environment that might have been unforeseen.  This allows everyone to make real time modifications to their plans and have the discussion right then and there about what everyone needs – especially safety!  I think a huge benefit is that the team members are talking every single day about how each trade is going to perform their work, how they are going to hand off the work to the next trade, and how it increases the moral on a jobsite – which we all know have a direct impact to safety.

Safety Week - Day 3 by Abigail Olson

Article written by Mike Trulove

With us having great momentum moving to day 3 of the National Safety week I am going to continue with the connections between Lean Construction and the impact tools such as the Last Planner have on jobsite Safety.  To briefly recap the week so far….Monday we talked Milestone and Master Schedules – Having the trade partners in early during this phase really helps to improve jobsite safety.  Yesterday we talked how during Pull Plan sessions having all the ‘Last Planners’ in a room coordinating a sequence of work builds trust & accountability to each other.  It gives the entire team exposure to what others are doing and inevitably the produced plan will be safer.  Which brings us to the next step in the Last Planner System – The Weekly Work Plan, or commonly referred to as the ‘Make-Ready-Plan’.



Here are just a few benefits of this meeting; Weekly work planning enables a collaborative environment, provides continuous communication between team members – Critical( and focuses heavily on the Safety aspect of the work being done).  You will get a reliability of workflow between subcontractors, suppliers and owners because everyone is involved and actively communicating with each other.  The team will begin Learning to solve the root cause to the reasons why tasks did not get complete and developbehaviors that will in the future allow them to be successful.   We all know that it is much better to learn from issues on a daily basis rather than a lessons learned at the end of the project.  The weekly work plan session will provide proactive vs. reactive approach to planning and executing.  In addition to these benefits, you can also expect to identify constraints, obtain reliable commitments from individuals to remove those constraints, and have aligned goals.  The team will discuss sequence in which the work will be taking place for the following week which gives the people doing the work an opportunity to safely coordinate their tasks with their trade partners.  I think one of the reoccurring themes is that they will be making commitments to each other, treating the next person as your customer, and having respect for one another.    


Have a great Safe Wednesday!

Safety Week - Day 2 by Abigail Olson

Article by Mike Trulove

Ya’ll this is so exciting, it’s day 2 of safety week…which means we are talking about how Lean Construction can impact jobsite safety.  We are talking about the Last Planner System, and yesterday we discussed Milestone schedule for the Master Planning phase.  We are moving on to the Pull Planning phase. 


This is where we dissect a milestone and start looking at the phase schedule.  What’s really cool here is that we are going to have once again all the key folks in the room talking through a sequence of work, I am talking about the guys we call the ‘Last Planners’.  This is the Foremen who are doing the work, we are super lucky to have their input on how to plan this work – why? Uh cause they know what it takes, how many people they need to do the work, the material its going to take, and most importantly how to complete each task safely.  During this Pull Planning session these foremen are going to talk through what they need from each other, make promises, and provide accountability to one another.  So you might be asking why would this be any safer than having this work planned and scheduled in the traditional methods like breaking a CPM schedule out to a say 3 week look ahead and having it pushed to the guys in the field.  Well I’m glad you asked.  What you get from using the Last Planner System is this:  A better understanding of project milestones, a single shared set of planning assumptions, a better understanding of the interdependence of each handoff between task, an establishment of Coordinated Plans of Action that are realistic and agreed to by all team members, and lastly an increased bond of trust and sense of team.  When a team feels responsible for each member because they trust one another the result is a safer jobsite. 

Have a Safe Tuesday!

Safety Week - Day 1 by Abigail Olson

Article by Mike Trulove

I love safety week!  I also love to plan.  Each day this week I want to give a brief summary for how Lean Construction goes hand in hand with Safety.

For this first day of Safety Week I wanted to explain how using Lean Construction Methods allows us to have a much safer project.  The tool I want to focus on specifically is the Last Planner system.  Let’s start out with a basic question: When does safety planning start?  In the Last Planner System (LPS) one main principle is to involve those doing the work to plan the work.  In many cases this starts at the Milestone Scheduling – and is the first touch point for the team to talk about safely planning the big sequences of work for the project.  It is also during this that we establish the promises for the project.


 When done right all the stake holders are involved and can have direct input to information that will impact their particular scope of work.  Maybe it starts with the logistics plan at the beginning and the team gets to talk through how the site will be organized.  Where deliveries are supposed to go, the route the deliveries need to take once one site, or where material will be unloaded / and how.  The point is, that when these topics are discussed by the entire group and each team member has the ability to ask questions and or provide what their needs are for their task; do we really start to see how safety is planned into the task. 

How Blockchain Can Help Construction Management by Abigail Olson

Article by Daviane Cruz and Connor Butler

Published in My Tech Mag

Construction is an engine for growth in economy.  Construction spending accounts for about 3.5% of the US GDP but the overall impact to the economy is much bigger as companies rely on construction spending to add capital assets that drive economic growth.

Unfortunately, construction productivity has been stuck for over 50 years. Technology has a role to play in fixing this problem.

We believe Blockchain can be a catalyst for improvement in construction by enhancing transparency, lowering transaction costs, improving supply chain management and reducing fraud.  Because it is a completely new technology, the industry can build a new delivery model around it versus the old way of bolting on technology to existing business processes.

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What 30-Year-Old Hip Hop Can Teach Us About Working Together by Abigail Olson

Article by Zac Drzayich, Client Lead

I realize it’s a pretty stock approach, but I admit that when I’m given a topic to discuss, I often start with the bare bones, the fundamentals, the common starting point of a topic.  So for this article, I naturally began with an early nineties hip hop sensation – Robert Matthew Van Winkle.  

What? You don’t think the artist more commonly known as Vanilla Ice is the appropriate way to start a piece about collaboration?  Not so fast, friend.  My guess is you’ve already started singing Ice Ice Baby in your mind, but in case you haven’t, here’s a little refresher of just the first line: 

“All right STOP. Collaborate and listen….”   

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