4 out of 4 stars
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"Lean" can be defined as the process of eliminating waste. There are many sources of waste in companies that the management is not aware of, and if they are left unchecked, they could result in a lot of financial loss. A lot of executives focus on reducing labor instead of waste, in a bid to try to reduce the way their company loses money, but this doesn't leave room for expansion of workforce and profit growth. There are a lot of companies that have adopted a lean culture in recent times, but failure to properly adhere to lean principles has resulted in a lack of progress in eliminating waste. In Lean Culture for the Construction Industry: Building Responsible and Committed Project Teams, Gary Santorella, an expert in lean implementation, team building, and strategic planning, aims to guide construction companies on the proper way to implement lean culture to eliminate waste and increase profits.
The author thoroughly touches on a wide range of lean principles, like waste identification, lean tools, like value stream mapping (VSM), standard work, and the Kaizen event, and most importantly, various forms of interpersonal waste and how to tackle them. The author considers interpersonal waste as the pillar to lean culture. Interpersonal waste includes work stoppages that occur as a result of any issues between workers, like finger-pointing, an unclear sense of purpose, and misplaced value, and failure to tackle interpersonal waste properly is the reason most companies fail when adopting a lean culture.
The first thing I liked about Lean Culture for the Construction Industry was how easy it was to follow what the author was saying from the first chapter. While I have an interest in construction, I am not too familiar with a lot of terms used in the construction industry. However, there was hardly ever a disconnect between myself and the author's message, as all unfamiliar terms were explained. There were times when I preferred the use of more familiar words or phrases, like when the author used idiosyncratic, ad nauseam, and anathema. It also helped that abbreviations, like VSM (value stream mapping), FSM (future state map), CSM (current state map), RFI (request for information), and PPD (personal protection device) were all explained.
Furthermore, I don't think that I have read any book as thorough on a subject as this book is on lean culture. The author extensively touched virtually every problem I could think of. Using numerous examples of problems in different companies based on the experience he has garnered over the years, Gary ensures that this book will relate to any form of problems experienced in the construction industry. At times, the book felt like an interactive session, as the author followed each example with questions about what went wrong, how to tackle the issue at hand, and even going further to discuss ways of preventing further occurrences. Gary also spiced things up using interesting analogies at different points of the book. I found it interesting when he used lovemaking as an example to show the importance of the human element to the construction process. He also used New England's 2004 Super Bowl win to illustrate the importance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
One thought-provoking part of the book was where the author explored different philosophers' opinions on ethics. He explored Socrates and C.S Lewis' views on modeling leadership on trust and Guicciardini's opinion of using fear because of how insidious and cunning men can be. While the author shared his views and gave good reasons on which leadership model he felt was better, I can understand why one may still opt for the model the author doesn't recommend. The book also tends to get repetitive about certain things, especially on defining roles and responsibilities clearly, trying to understand things from other people's points of view, and tackling interpersonal waste. While I appreciate this attribute of the book, as it gave me a constant reminder of some things I might have forgotten through the text, it might not appeal to some people.
Lean Culture for the Construction Industry is exceptionally well edited. I didn't find a single grammatical or typographical error throughout the book. The book is also well organized. There was nothing I disliked about the book. For that reason, I will proceed to give Lean Culture for the Construction Industry a maximum rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to leaders in construction industries, including project executives, project superintendents, and project managers. Generally, workers in the construction industry will learn a lot from this book. People that are not into construction but want to learn about eliminating waste in a company to increase profits also stand to benefit a lot from this book as well.
Lean culture for the construction industry
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