#37 The Secret Elements to Improve Construction and Project Management with Felipe Engineer.

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Felipe Engineer Manriquez, international speaker, host of "The EBFC Show" Podcast and member of the LCI (Lean Construction Institute).

Welcome to Episode 37 of the Enterprise Excellence Podcast. It is wonderful to have on the show with us today, Felipe Engineer Manriquez. Filipe is an International speaker and practitioner in Lean and Agile. He is committed to sharing decades of construction industry excellence experience as the host of "The EBFC Show" Podcast. He also helps as a member of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI). Felipe is passionate about helping the construction industry, amongst others, to improve and create a better future. Let's get into the episode. Felipe, thank you for joining us today.


The uncertainty of construction projects, and how Scrum and Agile can provide the framework for control.

Felipe did not learn about Lean at university. Neither did he in his first job in a research building. In his subsequent career, Felipe attended a seminar and heard Lean talk - a pull system, 5S, and was recommended the book, Lean Thinking by Womack and Jones. Felipe noticed that the Lean team were happy and wanted to join this delighted team. He had to read one Lean book to subscribe to the Lean group at work, and Lean Thinking was it.

Enter construction. One out of 7 or 8 people work in construction worldwide. The annual spend in the US is 3 trillion dollars, with over 11 million people employed in the industry. The client usually sets the tone for the project, and that can be high pressure. Workers can feel overburdened as they try and deliver projects on time, although the project design goes through many revisions along the way. How do you deal with that uncertainty? Agile and Scrum is a framework that allows you to picture what you have to do into a clear visual structure for flow, pace and delivery.

Four secret elements to improving in the construction industry.

  1. Take your temperature. Felipe highly recommends "The Machine that Changed the World" by Jim Womack. You need to step back and look at what you have. Don't benchmark. Don't compare yourself to other people. If your work looks complex, you might want to adopt Lean or Agile.

  2. Don't add more people or resources. When a project is late, adding more people can delay further. This has been proven in industries like IT and construction and can add more chaos and pressure. Don't throw more money at the project.

  3. Plan a little more. Try a daily short (15min) stand-up meeting (Scrum, Huddle) of people who need to deliver actions. What did you accomplish? What are you working on? What help do you need, if any? Don't problem solve in this short stand-up. Instead, identify actions that you could improve on in the future. This daily stand-up improves communication, which enhances flow and performance. People start to help each other.

  4. Experiment and learn systematically.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world. The capability to build agility safely and systematically is vital. If you are going to try something new, don't burn the house that you live in! Felipe believes fundamentally in the structure that the agile framework provides. He drew a diagram of the process: the Agile loops, which shows the loop of the product owner, through their sequence of working with the daily teams and then the daily Scrum and out to the resulting sprint Review and Retro.

What is your reason to change?

A lot of organisations are getting by and don't see the need to change. What is your sense of urgency? Felipe discusses the change that Amazon is bringing to the world in a very competitive way. You have got to break away from the whirlwind of your job to be able to reflect and change.

Key Takeaways

1. 'Take your temperature' to step out of the whirlwind of your job and reflect on how things are going.

'Take your temperature' is about taking the small amount of time needed to break out of the whirlwind of the day to day and reflect on how things are going. There is a Scrum technique that really helps with this. It is called a 'retrospective'. Reflect on how things are going and note down what you need to:

  • keep doing,

  • stop doing and

  • improve.

These three simple reflections will provide you with some ideas and hopefully motivation to put them into action.

2. Experiment safely with your ideas from the retrospective, and think about how to improve in small ways.

Experiment safely is such an important thing to remember. Many people avoid doing things differently because of the time it will take in an already busy world. They are worried about the risk of failure and the fallout this could cause. When you understand the simplicity and speed of experimenting safely, this all goes away. Take your ideas from your retrospective and think about how you could experiment with them quickly and safely to learn and improve. This experimenting thought process creates continuous learning and improving outcomes for yourself. When many people apply this thought process in an organisation, it continuously improves and innovates the company.