Granger vice president discusses lean construction

Earlier this year, I attended a conference hosted by the Lean Construction Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1997, the Lean Construction Institute seeks to improve the construction and design industries through Lean approaches to project design and delivery.

Dennis Carignan, vice president, Granger Construction

At Granger Construction, we continue to make strides in our effort to become one of the preeminent Lean construction firms in Michigan. This particular conference included lots of content on several important Lean initiatives as well as techniques firms can implement fairly easily. Here were two of my favorite takeaways:


Studies have shown that the most effective brainstorming group size is three people and have emphasized the power in creating short time intervals to force “rapid-fire” thinking instead of overthinking ideas before verbalizing them. Large group production is often limited by judgmental personalities, group mentality, and the inability for more than one person to speak at a time, so breaking into smaller groups is preferable. Distribute sticky notes so participants can write down ideas which can then be collected and organized by category. Proper facilitation is important to make the environment safe for all ideas to be shared and create a mechanism to harvest the best ideas rather than weeding out dumb ideas. Doing so produces the same results with less negative consequences.

Goals/Values Collection

Collecting and understanding customer goals is critically important for success. At Granger, this happens during our Envision programs and in our “Right Start” kickoff meetings. Although it’s been effective, in our experience this can become awkward if the stage isn’t properly set before trying to collect these goals. Set the table with an explanation of why it’s so important to understand the “conditions of customer satisfaction” before attempting to provide service. You may have to provide a few examples and follow up with some leading questions to get beyond superficial answers. Brainstorming in the small groups described above may be beneficial to help collect more ideas even if they don’t all make the final list.

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