Denis Stroup continues building upon nearly three decades of experience focusing on lean integrated project delivery and healthcare design. We explored how to build continuous improvement culture with owners and teams along with pivoting to overcome COVI...
Denis Stroup continues building upon nearly three decades of experience focusing on lean integrated project delivery and healthcare design. We explored how to build continuous improvement culture with owners and teams along with pivoting to overcome COVID-19 project challenges. Denis shares his passion for building and sustaining a culture that fosters a highly collaborative environment where people do their best work. We also shared some #Scrum and Last Planner System stories that enable positive collaboration, COVID challenges, and how lean helped even stubborn people change and adapt.
Follow Denis on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/denis-j-stroup-0a554a41/
Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. Join me and many others from the Lean design and construction community at their 22nd Annual Congress. It is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19th. Our theme is the ABC’s of Lean...Transformation through Actions, Best Practices, and Coaching. Learn more at https://www.lcicongress.org/2020
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Felipe Engineer 0:00
Welcome to the show, Mr. Dennis Stroupe. What's going on? Hey, Felipe, how you doing? Oh, good, man. Good, good, good, good. Well, I like the the nature shot.
Denis Stroup 0:11
Yeah, I thought we'd set up in the backyard this morning. It's not too terrible hot just yet. So give it a few minutes. Perfect. And my only caveat is you're not back here with the dog. So I'm gonna try and keep everybody you know, come with a couple of snaps every now and again. So just make my disclosure for that.
Felipe Engineer 0:27
Half of my guests. I've had dogs that have been on the show. So it's totally cool. Okay, it's a dog. The audience is dog friendly.
Denis Stroup 0:35
So yeah, okay, good deal. Yeah, I've I have found that that's another interesting thing. Felipe is, as we've learned in this new work from home environment, I think initially, there was a strong desire to make sure that we kept the kids and the dogs and everything else about our typical lives, kind of behind the curtain. What we learned is that, you know, I see that you're, you know, in your home there, you're comfortable. You've got a nice arrangement. That's nice. I'm learning something about you, I think is, as part of this situation, one of the things that's been really enlightening is, we're developing more empathy, in my opinion, because we get to know and learn about each other a little bit more. And I think that's a benefit as humans, if we can't be physically together, as we typically are, at least we're maybe learning a little bit more about each other in this way. Oh, yeah.
Felipe Engineer 1:18
I mean, that's what drew me to you, like, right out the gate. We were on the call. And because you had your camera on, I had my camera on. You weren't even talking. Other people were talking and I saw you reacting to what they were saying. And it's like, Dennis is a guy that I need to know. Well. And it just, but if we never would have had cameras on, I never would have even knew you existed. Yeah. You know, we never would have met and talked and we have I think we have lots of things in common. I think so, too.
Denis Stroup 1:44
And thank you again for this opportunity. Felipe. Really appreciate it. Thank you.
Felipe Engineer 1:49
No, no, thank you. Any any chance we get to audition and see inside the mind of a designer is always great. The audience response has been phenomenally large. You're helping to encourage new people and also keep the people in in because they know they could get a chance to work with Dennis like I know I want to work with you. Like the first chance I get. Welcome to the nbfc show, the easier better for construction podcast. I'm your host, Felipe Engineer Henriques. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by the lean construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone join me and many others from the lean design and construction community at their 22nd annual Congress. It is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19. Our theme is the ABCs of lean transformation through actions, best practices and coaching. register at WWW dot LCI congress.org forward slash 2020. Check the show notes for more information. Thank you, LCI. Now, to the show. Good. How are you today? Man? I'm doing fantastic. Dennis, thank you for asking. Yeah, let's not skip the pleasantries doing really well. started my day super early. I'm doing a scrum product owner certification this morning with Scrum Inc. and I'm getting it's like the last certification I could get and I've I've checked, I've checked it got them all. Now, the only thing missing is for me to actually do it.
Denis Stroup 3:35
All right. Yes. You know, you're going to have to get that additional business card to fit all the acronyms in your name.
Felipe Engineer 3:41
How about you? How's your morning going?
Denis Stroup 3:43
So far? So good Fridays, these days, we're on summer hours. And so we try to do our for nine and a four on a Friday situation. And so usually I've got some project specific things stacked up for me on a Friday morning. And then it's kind of wrap up from this week and already looking forward to next week for me for Friday. So starting to plan ahead for next week thinking about what's coming up.
Felipe Engineer 4:04
No, it was good. I just heard from a guy that I follow on YouTube, and he recommends that people plan the next week, like on Sunday night. Hmm. Or the the last work day and I thought, Wow, man, I've been missing out. I have not done that. I usually spend a good chunk of my time planning on Monday morning. Yeah, that's great to hear an architect planning. Oh, work week, man. It's just like music to general contractors. Yours, Dennis.
Denis Stroup 4:28
I'll bet Yeah, no. Yeah, that's definitely something that we have a good argument for. I think that I run in a crowd that's really invested and thinking about what it means to not just be reactive, but to be proactive, you know, and try and be able to be out in front of things. So Oh, that's great. Definitely. I know we're already engaged. Our organizations are engaged in work right now. Some of what I think I want to be talking about is a great story with regard to the engagement that he has with McCarthy.
Felipe Engineer 4:55
So welcome Denis Stroup
to the podcast. super glad to have you on. Once you go ahead and tell The audience a little something about yourself.
Denis Stroup 5:01
Absolutely. Felipe and thank you again for this opportunity. Well, as you mentioned, my name is Dennis Stroup. I am a healthcare principal with hga architects and engineers. I work at our Sacramento office. One of my other roles within HCA, as I'm also the practice group leader for health care here in Sacramento as well. My experience has been 25 years in architecture, the last 15 or so have been it's solely in acute health care in California. So OSH pod work predominantly, in the last 10 years, I've been more and more deeply involved in an integrated and, you know, lean practices and delivering projects. That's also seen my involvement in the lean construction Institute, first, as a consumer, and then later as a contributor. I'm on my second lap, right now with the core group for Northern California and our community of practice here. And I also co chair training for LCI here in Northern California.
Felipe Engineer 6:06
Very cool. Yeah. I'm also a big LCI, consumer, and volunteer. So let's go through it. There's one the first thing we have in common right away. Yes. How long ago would you say you discovered this whole idea of lean?
Denis Stroup 6:20
Wow, my entry point into lean was on a project that I was on. It was a it was a significant hospital expansion. For a private Community Hospital actually up here in Placerville, it's Marshall hospital, they were doing their North Wing addition. And we were engaged with a mechanical engineer capital engineering, Brian Johnson, specifically, who actually at the time was the he was the chair of the Northern California Co Op. For LCI, and big kickoff meeting, we were getting things going. And he introduced the concept of the last planner system. And the goal was to try and understand where we were going to be ready for steel procurement. And it was so enlightening for me. And just that simple, kind of a just flipping scheduling is traditionally we understood it, which was a very push kind of a system into this is our preferred date in order to erect and if we need x time to, and it really began to lay bare sort of the steps that we needed. And all the the the integration points, that's that those two things are, were really the key for me, and in my introduction into lean, there's another way to think about it, number one, and number two, it's so much bigger than just yourself. And it's more robust, when it involves, you know, the entire team participating. And that's something that really just struck a chord with me. So that was my entry point.
Felipe Engineer 7:46
That's great. And then I was at a success, which, from your opinion, did you get everything you wanted, and more.
Denis Stroup 7:52
So it was definitely an introduction, it was an introduction to the concept of lean. It was an introduction also to LCI for me. And so both of those things, I've seen kind of progress for me personally, and then just in the industry, progressing over these years, it's just been really fun to watch and be a part of.
Felipe Engineer 8:12
I think that says a lot. You know, you hit 1989. I mean, so boom, I feel good. Not too old, not too young. I'm in the Goldilocks zone here. And you stayed with it for over 20 years. I mean, that says a lot about the value that you're getting out of these types of thinking and ways of working.
Denis Stroup 8:32
Yeah, absolutely. And again, for me, it was again, so eye opening, and we started to see it of course on on some of the larger, more significant projects, they tended to be healthcare. And so that was certainly within my wheelhouse. Obviously, I've since learned that it does not have to be a billion dollar hospital project to leverage these things on. We've seen some success now kind of taking that philosophy and that set of tools that mindset, and and applying it to everything from managing a book of work that includes a single client with 50 projects, of course to you know, leveraging on on something like what we just seen our most recent success, I would say, has been for a client in Roseville, Sutter Health, we just delivered a pretty major expansion for them. full blown ifra colocated team for years 80% of my time out there in the colocation not only leveraging what we had available to us, but also taking that and morphing it into whatever the the project really needed at that point.
Felipe Engineer 9:37
Oh, that's perfect. Very cool. And you're close to home too. And you're their home office when you couldn't ask for anything more. Yeah, that was not not a bad deal. You have a North Sacramento area is a it's a good unique spot. I think the the hospitals in this area, probably the largest employers here. There's three or four big health systems in this area, the North Sacramento area and it's been interest thing with the pandemic to see, you know, the the hospitals here being able to take care of some of the overflow from Sacramento itself. Have you seen or heard anything that? Has the pandemic changed the design of some of the things in flight?
Denis Stroup 10:14
Well, absolutely, yeah. Felipe most definitely has, has turned a lot of things. Very introspectively. I think for a lot of providers, I think some would say, and I've talked to other folks within the industry as well, that would have identified that there have been certain wastes within healthcare delivery from the owners perspective, for a long time. And that something like this has just really shined a what a white hot light on what those things are, and where those opportunities for improvement are. Healthcare has been in many people's opinion overbuilt for some time, the idea of a very large mega hospital is is really starting to get I think, some second thought, What is telemedicine look like? Right now, there's a, I think, a huge going to, we're going to see a huge surge in what telemedicine is going to be doing starting now and into the future. It makes sense. From the provider standpoint, I think that culturally, I think that we're moving into kind of a situation where people are more adept and able to I mean, look at us here, Philippe, we have been working from home situation since for me personally, end of March, August.
Felipe Engineer 11:23
I got you a little bit there. I'm done. I started first week of March.
Denis Stroup 11:27
Okay, so as you know, broken, having broken that trail, as you know, so we've become accustomed to it, I would say that it really wasn't culturally from a standpoint of how we typically deliver design. And in my preferred method, which is full contact engagement, you know, with large groups of people and doing that. Still my preferred method and looking forward to getting back to that, but we can't ignore what we've been able to do over these last several months. And I think from the provider standpoint, our ability to help with looking at thought leadership, really leveraging research is something that HDA is doing, I would say very well, to understand from a wide perspective, from the clientele that we see nationally, both academic medical centers to, you know, critical access hospitals, the needs are going to be different, but there's certainly common threads that are running through all that. So it's been exciting, even in this current situation that we're in to see that we have an opportunity to improve. And so certainly not the way that you would want to trigger that. But we can certainly find the opportunity, I think within it.
Felipe Engineer 12:35
Yeah, I have the core idea that I've met a lot of lean thinkers, and a lot of folks like the Glen Ballard, the Greg halls and many others. Many, many others like my one of my favorites, Edwards Deming, or is like he was known by his friends as Ed. I didn't get to call him but it would have been cool. And it's just that simple idea of things can be better. So fundamental, we just overlook it. Sometimes we get so into the details that we forget about that little part. But we can still make it better. We can have fun at work, right, Dennis?
Denis Stroup 13:11
Absolutely. Well, I am about that. Felipe, most definitely. I've measured that in smiles per hour. Yes.
Felipe Engineer 13:19
Smiles, smiles per hour is gonna be my new KPI and want to steal that from you, Dennis. Smiles per hour. That's a great one man. When we met was virtually you were on the core team in the northern California community in practice, which is like I think one of the largest LCS lc icop is definitely one of the oldest if not the first, or the second, or is it the first or the second?
Denis Stroup 13:45
I think you would know, you know, it, it's in my entry point. I know it was just really getting going. And it has grown to the point to where Northern California has f actually bifurcated into a sort of a central valley component headquartered in Sacramento and a bay area component. I would say from my perspective, that it is one of the CIPS that is really looked to as a thriving Corp. And others are certainly you know, we're we have the ability to help other you know, emerging CEO P's, you know, give them some advice. This is some of the things that we've encountered, and you know, your ability to provide content and things like that. So it's been a privilege to be able to give back not only to your community of practice, but also help other communities of practice getgoing.
Felipe Engineer 14:28
No, it's it's true. It's definitely true. Like, it is the bar that we all measure ourselves to. I've got friends and the Oklahoma CLP, the Florida, the New York, I myself sit on the team with the St. Louis. we steal from you guys constantly. That's great. I like to think that James led the last meeting, and he called it the what he called the salad talk. Yeah, it's our salad chat. Yes, the salad chat. If you're talking People, what's the salad chat at the beginning of the meeting.
Denis Stroup 15:02
So a salad chat is when we were meeting in person, we would often have a kind of a sit down dinner situation, the speaker to have the ability to really gauge sort of, based on what it is they wanted to present an open ended leading question to the rest of the group. And the groups would get together at their table, generally six to eight folks and have a discussion about the topic that the speaker was looking to find out, you know, taking the temperature of the room. And there would be a one, a delegate at each table, who would report out, you know, after self introductions, report out what our group thought about whatever this particular topic was. And it would often be really informative for the speaker to understand what the baseline of the audience was with a general level of understanding where maybe some of the focus wanted to be in the presentation. So and it was also an icebreaker for the folks who may be at the table. If I would go from a with a group of folks from my organization, I would always encourage us to be able to spread out I wouldn't want to see one at a table, I'd like to see someone from hg at multiple tables and just get to know folks. And so it's also a great icebreaker for the folks sitting at the table as well.
Felipe Engineer 16:10
Drawn and when you guys, you had to we had to have the online meeting instead of face to face, which I got to attend, which was Yes. And you still did the salad chat. That was that was a great example of adaptation, like, boom, really quick. Indeed.
Denis Stroup 16:28
Yeah. So Felipe, one of the things that we learned is that you and I are on a zoom meeting right now, as the host, you'd have the ability to set up a breakout room with just the two of us that would be lonely because we'd rooms but and it's also something that we're leveraging not just in our Corp meetings, but in other various components if we're engaging clients, and oftentimes, we would want to have breakout groups to get some intense thinking from multiple, you know, camps simultaneously, we would usually find different tables and corners of the room. Now I have the ability to do that virtually. So here's a great example of taking what's core, about Lean a respect for people, you know, continuous improvement, taking the tools that we already know and understand. And leveraging them in another way to be able to continue just facilitates in the way that we would have, I'll call it in person, but now virtually. And so we've we've done it in interview prep, we've done it as part of our engagement with clients early in the design effort, where we can get still groups of people to go out and then spend a period of time 30 minutes an hour, what have you, and then return back to the larger group and likewise, have report outs, we can collect collateral on a on a virtual whiteboard, someone can take minutes, there's many ways that we can bring that data back to the bigger group, consolidate it, and then begin to refine things in that way as well. So leveraging technology in such a way that you can adapt the things that we used to do from a lean perspective in this new virtual environment, I think is going to be the new differentiator. And so what encourages me about our community, you know, the lean community is that we've already got that mindset, you know, that we are never satisfied with what we're doing today. But we know that there's always a way that we can modify something, run it again, check it make an adjustment, you know, the PDCA kind of loop that we would engage. And that's been so exciting to see those kinds of things happening. So that would be the solid that would be an example of leveraging technology to to just have a simple breakout for a smaller group that I can bring back to the larger audience.
Felipe Engineer 18:44
It was a pleasant surprise because I had been to the in person did not expect it from the virtual. I then got to make a couple of friends in that little salad chat. Which was nice to connect. And coincidentally it's connected with another architect. Oh, that's good. It's good to make another friend. Yeah, it's I often joke when I'm when I'm talking to project teams, like some of my best friends are actually architects True story. I wouldn't be ashamed to hang out with you know, there you go. You could you can tell people like you know, you know, general contractor too.
Denis Stroup 19:16
That's right. So you know that the seller chat is is an example I want to decide another kind of anecdotal example, Philippe that actually has a very nice McCarthy and hga story to it. And organizations are engaged right now for an expansion and reservation for the for the UC Davis Health System, the ice and they are the UCD campus in Sacramento. And that project began in a big room situation design build kind of an approach but leveraging lean tools and processes. And so we began in a big room situation and we had to make that adjustment. So one of the things that I have to commend you know, your design manager, a fella by the name of Bobby do we really bright, young women.
Felipe Engineer 20:00
Shout out to Bobby.
Denis Stroup 20:01
Yeah. Bobby's our guy, as well, Bobby working closely with Glenn Sullivan, Sully Sullivan in hga to develop a protocol for pull planning. It was a level of rigor that the project had, that they got together on a weekly basis to look back. How did we do in our previous week? Did we earn our plan percent complete or our PPC that we were targeting, and if not, more importantly, why not drilling down into those five why's to understand where the breakdowns were, and again, in the spirit of continuous improvement, so and then, of course, look forward to make any adjustments that were necessary. And then plan the next horizon, you know, basic whole planning type things, we bite off pieces that we know that we can chew. We can't forecast the weather a year from now, but I got a good sense of what's happening in the next two weeks. So how do we shift gears given the current situation, that was the charge that Sally and Bobby had to figure out? And so very quickly, they had identified two things that they had at their disposal. Something as simple as what we're doing right now we're well familiar with it, perhaps we need to get some kind of a FaceTime situation going so that we can have an individual in a room because we were still moving post it notes at that point. So you know, how do we say yes or no, to commit to these things and understand what those were. And that worked for a little while. And then we figured out, we didn't have enough iPhones to you know, make the FaceTime thing work. And so they move the whole situation, they replicated what we had on the whiteboard, into a simple spreadsheet that they were able to put together and leverage bluebeam, something that most folks have it's native, it's intuitive, people know and understand it, they can open up a session in such a way that you still own your task. And you and only you can make a commitment or move that commitment after you've coordinated with anybody else who may be impacted by that. And so they set up a new paradigm, using simple tools, but still had the same set of rigor that we had for go nogo, who is going to be able to move commitments, who we also we needed in the room, I couldn't commit for somebody else. So all the rules still applied. But we had to change the sandbox that we were playing. And so the that was a huge win for the project. It's something that the owner reflected back. So glad we didn't throw this out. We didn't fall back into old patterns. we adapted and overcame in this situation, it's a testament to the folks who were on the project. And the owner, quite frankly, for continuing to encourage this, it would be so easy, as you can imagine, in this situation just to say, Hey, listen, we're in a position where we can't just do this anymore. But they found a way, you know, again, that mindset, that philosophy, it's still imbued in everything that they're doing. But they found another gear, they found the ability to be able to shift that in such a way that it's still successful for them, they are still, you know, meeting weekly, they still have a 15 minute huddle, a scrum, you'd be happy to know that, I am very happy to know that their ability to be nimble and make adjustments not just every seven days when the crank turns but daily in that 15 minute huddle, they can make that adjustment. So it's it's a really, really great story, I think about how that project and that group of folks saw an opportunity in a really unpleasant situation to not throw in the towel but to move the ball down the field. And so it's really encouraging to hear stories like that and others where we're finding ways to make that now.
Felipe Engineer 23:47
I love solly said to one of his takeaways was that people could now read his tags because it went digital.
Denis Stroup 23:55
Yes, Sally in his left handed handwriting. God bless him he's a wonderful individually a dear friend of mine. But yeah, he can read the tags now. Exactly.
Felipe Engineer 24:04
Yeah, you know, the the first time that I ever saw pull planning InDesign was with one of your, your partner's was Vicki, Vicki? Mm hmm. Yeah, this was probably four years ago. And I got an A friend of mine was there, we're doing a job with you guys in the in Sacramento. And we actually went to your office, and they invited me just to be a fly on the wall. They're like, you're gonna like this, you need to see this. And at that time, I had done pool planning for, you know, half a decade, always in construction. And this was my first time seeing it with designers. And when I saw Vicky was there, Ron mclaury was there. So it's like the two. You know, Rhonda glory is like the guy. You know, for those. For people that don't know, he's like lean royalty. You know, in the end, he's a structural engineer. Right. So There you go another, another non construction person but a designer. No, I'm an electrical engineer by training. So I mean, near and dear to my heart is any type of engineering folk, any building people and to watch Vicki and Ron negotiate with each other for what they were going to do and how they were going to hand off, it completely changed my approach to pull planning 100% got better. And I even got yelled at by one of my people for talking too much in the back. Because we were writing the full plan. I was just getting so excited and giddy. I was talking to my friend who invited me there. And we couldn't. I kept asking all these like things like, how does Vicky know that her team can do that? And you know, like little things like that. And it was just really cool to actually slow down and educated me. Oh, yeah. And it's totally helped. I think now I'm about 5050, working with construction teams that are already in flight, and then working with teams that are still in the design. It's about half, half now. Mm hmm. Which is really cool. And I Oh, you know, Vicki, and Ron a ton for being so patient with me so many years ago. And just teaching at Ron has told people to, and as did Vicki at the time, before she retired, that, you know, just ask questions. Like, that's one of the coolest things like, you're talking about Bobby and Sally getting together. And just working with the client. I remember. I think Samarra was just asking, How can we keep doing this? Right, and the team, you know, they responded to the call. And there, that's gonna be a great story. I mean, there are a lot of great stories happening, despite all the challenges we're dealing with, with COVID. I remember we have a large healthcare client, that's in California, you probably work for them as well, at times, and they said that, you know, some of the people in the organization thought when the pandemic hit, this would probably be like, March, March, April time period, 2020. How can we keep doing lean? Like, they were thinking, like, how can we and I said, Why don't you just ask the people that work for you. And that turned out to be a turned out to be a two hour long meeting, where 15 different companies presented on how they've pivoted during COVID. And it was, it was exactly like you said, People just got together collaborated, honored that respect for people answered the call, and using very simple tools that they already had, nobody had to spend an extra dollar, yes, to make it happen. And the client was left speechless. And they and they said that we're taking this back inside. And we're going to share this with our people as like a conversation starter. And that's had like so many positive side effects. Since Do you find that? Does your phone ring? I mean, besides me calling you and asking for stuff? Does? What kind of calls Do you get, like, asks for help related to lien or just more together type of practices?
Denis Stroup 28:12
Well, that's interesting, because no one has really specifically made the call, I would say that most of what we're hearing right now is from our clients looking for thought leadership about how you're addressing things right now, in the kind of near six month term, and then sort of long term, it's, it's really been nice for us to be able to maybe help spearhead some of those things. And so as you mentioned, Philippe, you know, we all had to make the adjustment, you know, when HDA, for example, we went from 11 offices to, you know, over 800 offices overnight, most everybody started working from home. And so with that, we all just had to, you know, get to the point to where we had to quickly adapt to this, you know, and move on. And it wasn't just with our clients, you know, and we're still talking to our clients about their needs, and how things can keep going for them. But we just continue to behave in such a way and we invite others to, to come along. There are certainly some clients who are, I'll say, more sophisticated in that regard, Philippe, that have always been of that mind, and are certainly supporting and encouraging the continued development of how we're doing things now virtually from a lean perspective. But perhaps what's been more encouraging is other clientele who may have been curious, but never really engaged in it, are even more so now. I mean, and there's a much more compelling reason. And what's terrific is there's this long as you pointed out earlier, there's great stories and there's a long history of things that have been successful and and are continuing to develop using simple tools but are adhering to the philosophy and the practice and so that In my opinion is probably the the bigger opportunity at this moment is to engage with clients who may not have historically had an interest in or have only been curious about, but now are kind of looking in and seeing that as other things are continuing to move forward with success. How can they replicate that success right now?
Felipe Engineer 30:19
Yeah, I know, I remember, like, early in the pandemic, it's like, every, every other thing in my LinkedIn feed was about a COVID. webinar, you know, for for a while. And there's still I mean, there's still happening now. It's, it's already August, we're still seeing, you know, quite a bit of that from some of the larger nonprofits now, it's like, all the little consultants got there first, and now the big nonprofits are on that the end of the tail, right, as we as we move into the fall, and a lot of conferences got postponed or went virtual. That's been interesting to see. So that's good that you're still, you know, engaging the clients at a very high level. And we are, we are always happy that you're still designing and drawing because that means there'll be work for us in the future. Yes. Right. Right. Right. That's good to hear. But do you get any any calls like from your people inside your company? Like they recognize Oh, like dennis is on this link construction group? What kind of questions do you get from newer people or just people that don't know what lean is? Because they still there are many people out there still write dentists that don't know what lean thinking is?
Denis Stroup 31:34
There's a few if you can imagine, yes, there are a few. And I would say that, yes, there have been those kinds of calls. So from an internal perspective, in Sacramento, and specifically within healthcare, we developed a lean process for our staffing coordination. And so this is our internal staffing coordination from the project management to the project architect to the, you know, production support folks, and how we leverage folks in an efficient way across multiple principles and across multiple, you know, projects. And we call it our staffing stand up, it was a 15 minutes huddle, we had two boards that we established, because we would look at this week, and we would look at next week. And so again, our day, our meeting on Monday morning would begin with, how did we do last week, did we learn anything, we always try to apply learning that occurred. And then that makes us change this coming week. And then of course, we forecast the second week as well. So we had a process that we would get together stand up meeting everybody standing in front of these two boards. And we would run through what our staffing requirements for we would have a monitor up, you know that we would reference for our backlog that would take us you know, forecasting six or eight months out. So we see the long view. And then we see that short view. And so it's very much like how we would facilitate a pull planning where we understand the big picture, aggregate overall schedule, we understand the various design elements or construction elements. And then we look at that fine detail kind of as Ramana would describe sort of the the boulders the cobble and the pebbles, you know, that level of, of detail. Well, no one wants to or is coming back into the office anymore. And so I offered to you know, do the FaceTime thing, really as efficient. And so we move that process into something that was virtual and electronic. So similar to how we're meeting right now, azumino, still 15 minutes, still involves the same points of discussion. But now I have something that I can take to my peers and other offices. And even internally how we support other market sectors, you know, we have folks that are cross trained to work on a museum or a fine arts center that can also do a medical office building or a hospital in addition, and so we've got people that can play both sides of the coin. And so we can share staff and buoy other markets that may have, you know, different looks at what their backlog might be where selfcare is continuing to, for the most part Be strong, others might be, you know, not doing as well. And so we have that ability to do that. So those are the kinds of those are the kinds of calls I'm sorry to interrupt, Philippe, that we've been getting to talk about. Dennis, how have you been managing your staffing? When everyone is spread out now and working from home? How do you keep an understanding about where folks are at where the gaps might be where people might be overburdened? And so we can level out their workload.
Felipe Engineer 34:27
Wow, that's perfect. That's where I was gonna take you like, bring bring me back home to how higher up because I know your helper is I called on you and ask for help. And you just, you didn't even think about it. You're like an instant? Yes. So that's great to see our office here in the Roseville office, McCarthy's office, some similar type of thing where they made the flip somebody on the staff volunteered to make a digital and then they've continued to check in and now there's another large contingent of people back in the office so it's kind of it's gone back inside. And but there's still people calling in remote. Yeah, but that's really cool. Do you get any, like visitors from outside of California ever coming in to do some cross functional things with your office locally? And then hearing is there is do you see a difference between? You know, you said you had 11 offices? Is there a cultural difference among the different offices, you know, versus like here?
Denis Stroup 35:26
Well, there's certainly is geographic differences, you know, in market differences depending on where you're at in the in the country. But what's really cool and unique about hga is that, you know, we have the ability because we work with, you know, some so many other really bright folks in other parts of the country, that we can engage together and collaborate together on projects, no matter where we are, it's a habit that we would have had, I'll call it pre COVID, where I may fly to, you know, somewhere in the Midwest to help, you know, be be part of the preliminary coaching of a project team that might be integrating on an IPD project for their first time. And so sharing some of those experiences, or, or perhaps called into, you know, in in California, one of the things that he does is in healthcare and in all of our offices. So we definitely have some similar stories, we have some similar challenges, whether it's related to OSH pod or a common client that we all share. So yes, it would run both gamuts, where I might engage some programming thought leadership that I might have in the Midwest on a project here in California, or vice versa, I might come and help facilitate pull planning, for example, on a project team, that allows their folks to wear the hats that they need to in their roles on the project, I can come in and help be a facilitator for some of those processes as well. I can tell you that right now, I'm engaging with some folks from the Midwest on a pursuit that we're engaged in and we meet virtually running through, for example, our our pursuit rationale, once again, leveraging what we have in zoom to do breakout meetings, you know, I'm talking about leadership in a big room, we've got folks in the Midwest who are talking about design and how we engage our clients, and how we go through our extreme scheme process or our three p process to how do we if we can't be there together and build a an entire room in cardboard? How are we leveraging virtual reality in this time right now to be able to share with you our design thoughts. And we might be in Milwaukee, we might be in Minneapolis, but we can share with our client here in Sacramento with the headset. Here's how you can experience this kind of spatially by using the the VR. And so it's very exciting to see how those kinds of things are happening right now as well. And so yes, we do get the call. We do share that kind of information. Our ability to work with anybody at any time is just being conscious of the timezone these days.
Felipe Engineer 38:01
Yeah, yeah. I've been up since 4am. Today working with some folks on the east coast. So you know, oh, yeah, I know, man. That's why I have the blackout curtains in the room. So I just pretend I just get into the timezone. There was a day this week, Dennis, where I was convinced that I was in Central Standard Time, all day. I came out of my room. I was like, what's for dinner? And I feel like it's too early. Yeah. All right. What's your dog's name? So this is Max. Everybody. This is Max Maxwell. Hey, dog. Yes. Maxwell J. Dog. Yeah. Full name with a middle name.
Denis Stroup 38:41
Oh, yeah. Well, he gets to hear it from time to time. But yeah, he's the he's the big one of the group. We got a smaller, medium and a large and so I'm out in their, in their space right now here this morning.
Felipe Engineer 38:52
That's awesome. Yeah, we've got another cool thing that I love about your firm. I practice like, it's no secret that I practice Scrum. There's, you could probably see a couple Scrum books over my shoulder. I'm a bookcase. And Jeff Sutherland knows he's one of my mentors. And when I first getting into it, I bumped into somebody from your office and they they had me come and talk to us. We did a lunch and learn at your Santa Monica office before you move to the new one. And I just remember, like I died and went to heaven. I was in a room with 45 people excited to designers excited to learn about Scrum. Some of them had already been doing it for a couple years. like myself, like just guerilla Scrum, like quietly, you know, and then and then it just it became bigger and talk about it. And now I'd bump into two people. You just mentioned today that that that team is doing some Scrum things on that team here and in the Sacramento area. What What have you seen like From your your purview. How long ago was it one Scrum came on the horizon became like a word. Hmm.
Denis Stroup 40:08
Well, I'll share my experience. And so for, for me personally, Philippe, I started to become, you know, hearing about it, you know, this is still sort of early on in my engagement with with lean as it related to my entry point was through LCI. And so we started to hear terms like agile, we started to hear terms like Scrum, we started to hear things like six sigma and things like that. And so I see this, I guess, as you know, tactics and tools that you can apply to the various aspects of your, your project your life, you know, whatever it is that you need to kind of manage and move forward. And so Scrum I see is coming up more and more. And so it's certainly starting to really pop up on my radar, I would say over the last 18 months or so, I would have to be, I'd have to be transparent and admit I don't have a deep understanding of it. And so I'm looking forward to your upcoming webinars on that.
Felipe Engineer 41:05
Yeah, a little commercial. No, no, I mean, it's, we one of the cool things about my job is that I get to help people and engage with those that they want to get after it. And like that's just something that we can connect on any time dentists like, there is no cost for to have me invite me to something to talk about Scrum. We've on boarded 1000s of people in the design community to the scrum framework. So take advantage of me, man. I will I will fully ban Thank you. Absolutely. But yeah, no, I'm glad like in the 18 months, like I was talking to JJ Sutherland this morning. He's the CEO at scrumming. Now, like the most famous of all Scrum organizations always tell them like, you know, kudos, and helps that the CO creator started the company. And he was saying, like, it's just been so interesting in the last six months, like almost exactly at the time that you know, the pandemic hit, there has been an exponential demand for Scrum in the design and construction community. And I said, Yeah, because it just makes pivoting and being more adaptive to change is so easy. And groups that we're already doing it, like we have a team in our office that was already doing it when the pandemic hit, and we had to go home, they didn't miss a beat, we saw their productivity actually go up. And it stayed up. So that was a, you know, it's interesting. And I've heard the same, like we were talking about some, some other companies, and they're having some similar stories, you know, some of the startups in Silicon Valley, they were already agile, and some of them were using Scrum, like, nothing changed, you know, then people got to have a cozier working environment, or, you know, some people had to give up because there are some startups that have some really cool amenities in the office that they can use anymore. But yeah, is there anything else, Dennis, that you want to talk about? related to the pandemic and lean that we then hit on yet?
Denis Stroup 43:08
Yeah, well, I would just reiterate it, as we have discussed, I think your last story is, is a great example of that is, you know, sometimes we talk about it, you know, in as lean as a mindset change, that there's often some kind of a compelling reason, you know, we sometimes describe it as a burning platform. And so I couldn't imagine a more eminent or overwhelming reason to begin to consider or look at these kinds of things as we are in now. And you know, and you talked about moving out of the situation that you knew that you understood well, and suddenly being forced into something else. And so it wasn't even a ham thinking about it, I'd like to learn more, I'd like to get into it. It's like a really kind of a hard shove in a direction. And so I would say that, now is this tremendous opportunity for folks like you and I and others that are in the scrum or the lean community, to be champions just continue to do what we're doing, continue to talk about and evangelize, you know, the core principles about respect for people, continuous improvement, you know, things that you can do right now, small things, this is back to a two second lean kind of a component where, you know, small changes, even though you know, I think, again, the change has been the request has been large, but you can begin in small ways to begin to move things in a direction. I agree with you, that people who had been understanding and involved in this for some time, are going to have a much more natural sort of transition into some of this. But it doesn't surprise me that the call has been more overwhelming now. And I'd say Another example would be and we hosted at hga our offices in Midtown, our typical Corp meetings that we would have monthly and I would say that on a on a good We would, we would have, you know, maybe 25, or 30 people for Sacramento would be a good number that we would expect to show up in person, we held our first virtual seminar that that you and I connected at it was with regard to the whole planning in a virtual environment, we had over 100 people had requested to come to this 80% of those folks actually attended. And it ran the gamut from owners, to contractors to, you know, our trade partnership to designers and others. And they weren't just solely local to Northern California, we saw people that attended from around the United States. And so it's clear to me that there's a great deal of interest in this right now. That there's a significant opportunity for for champions and practitioners, to continue what we had been doing in an in person kind of a situation, and open up that thinking to continuous improvement to leverage what we have at our disposal to continue to do these things and perhaps improve on them. Felipe, I think that our work from home situation is going to stick around in some form or fashion. And that's going to compel us to continue to find creative ways to connect with you and I are right now and in other ways to continue to do the things that we desire to do on our projects that I think more clients are going to be looking for on these things. Lean for a couple of years, for me, personally, has no longer become a differentiator. It's just the rigor. It's just what we do. It's how we practice. And now we've got this opportunity to take that and further it, you know, to to just further it into what we're doing virtually right now. So I think we've got a bit of a blue ocean opportunity to continue to take these things, and improve on them find other unique ways to continue to do those. So it's exciting. And I keep saying this, I hear myself saying, you know, the situation that we're in is an exciting time, it sounds a little counterintuitive, but it truly, you find opportunity in these kinds of situations and leveraging that to the greatest extent is, I think incumbent on us to do right now to continue to lead the industry in that direction.
Felipe Engineer 47:13
Not I feel exactly the same way. Like we we'd have a I don't I don't have as much experience with lean as you do. So I'm definitely still learning from you. And I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and practices with me. So thank you, sir. But about a decade ago, I got involved. And it was somebody that had some manufacturing experience come to work for us. And like they said the right things and hit me at exactly the right time where I got interested and stayed with it. And then now we've got some of the some of the calls we've had have been like the younger people coming into the workforce now. And saying, like we heard about this in school, and I'm just thinking, wow, I never heard about this in school, like I worked a decade and never heard a peep. Right. And you worked decades and never heard about Scrum until 18 months ago, we have not done a good job of marketing. And then people to be excited and say, I see that you do this thing. lien. What is that? And just to have people asking what to do with real curiosity, you know what it is? Yeah, I think that says a lot about the just the shift in workforce too. And that's something like you said, it's no longer gonna be a differentiator, you have to do it, or you're not going to be here tomorrow.
Denis Stroup 48:29
Absolutely. Well, you make a very good point, too. And I I'm encouraged to know that academia is really starting to engage in such a way where they recognize that this is legitimate, it's a thing, you know, the idea of design, bid build, you know, transitioning into something more friendly, and something that, quite frankly, engages much more positive outcomes, you know, and so I can tell you, not just anecdotally, but you know, empirically that I've been on projects that you couldn't wait to be over. And it was, you know, they've been those sort of negative experiences. We just finished up and still wrapping up. So the renovation scopes there at the Roseville project, and hearts are breaking that we're having to now go out and find and do other things. And it may not be in the same form and fashion. Yeah, we have been doing it over the last four years. And that's telling that you've really made the impression that you've you've done something that's of a benefit. You know, that people want more obviously, generationally, you again, you know, the folks that are coming out of construction management now and into that sort of mindset, and they're native to it. They don't understand sort of what you and I and others have been they've had to kind of break this trail that they're just walking on now. And so there's that and and i the most compelling stories I've ever heard at the the LCI meetings where the Sophie old you know, Superintendent 40 years in their career, really hard knows things got done at the end of their boot and and they've been exposed to this. They were resistant Of course, reluctantly, they carried on that began To discover the benefit, and they'll they'll stand up in front of a room and say, You know what, I'll never do this any other way. And so when you when you begin to sort of get both of those kind of ends of the spectrum in the workforce, either native to it wouldn't do it, you know, don't know any other way, or have seen a lot of have seen the benefit of performing in sort of a lean and integrated fashion, and wouldn't go back to doing it another way that that really tells you that this is something that has merit and deserves our continued focus and attention on it.
Felipe Engineer 50:33
No, absolutely does. I've actually known quite a few people that run an integrated project delivery job in different parts of the country. And when that job came to an end, their next assignment was a traditional design bid build, they quit, they actually quit the company and went to go work for, you know, different organizations that were that had more of those IPD jobs in the portfolio just to get another at bat. Because they can't go backwards. And I know another team too, that they they were on, they'd come off of two back to back, just coincidentally, architect in the GC had had some back to back experiences and IPD. And they were on a traditional job. And they talked the owner into behaving as if it was IPD, without the contract, and the owner bought in. And they even gave the the general contractor 10s of 1000s of dollars to create a big room. And they've been reaping the benefits, it's become like a lighthouse to the rest of that dirt. A serial builder just coincidentally, happens to be a healthcare client, a serial builder, so they're constantly doing capital programs all the time. And now they're bringing their project managers to this to this office environment, this job site to see like, what's possible without the contract. And to me, that's just like, It's unheard of. That's, that's like they're gonna be this should be a book written about that, Dennis. There you go. Yeah. It's unbelievable. And just look at the a couple of stories that you and I are sharing architects and drone contractors partnering together. I remember being at the DBA conference in Napa, I think it was a year ago, they hosted in Napa. And at the I saw something that I had never seen before and that I didn't think I'd ever see. And that was at the at the happy hours. I saw architects doing business development like things to general contractors, like wooing us. And I remember I think I collected like 25 business cards from architects and I just felt so special. Oh, that's awesome. You guys made me feel so good. So many, so many of your friends, Dennis?
Denis Stroup 52:50
Yes, yes. Well, you know, Philippe here again, is just, you know, if we think back over the the the sort of the history of our respective, you know, trades and what we do for work, you know, there's, there's historically been silos and divisions. And, you know, we were taught almost to be having this adversarial relationship right now, our job was to, you know, fight off the change orders and things like that. And we were set up contractually in a way to sort of be at odds against each other. And so, you know, kind of being young in my career, and maybe just, you know, sort of a Pollyanna attitude about the whole thing, but I'm pretty awful Dude, I like to get along with people, and never had any interest in kind of engaging in an adversarial way, you know, with who I whom I saw as my partners on this project. And it was really when you sort of you had that, that connection point that wasn't at the permit. But you had that connection point that was, you know, really at my hip, as we were going through the design process, because I am not too proud to admit that folks in the trades have forgotten more than unmined ever know, about a particular connection, or what's the best way to, you know, think about this thing to gain efficiency in the construction and increase safety, liability and expedite things. And so, I've learned so much I would say in in the last 10 years of my career, engaging on projects in this way, then maybe all of my time before that, because of the opportunities that I've had to engage. I mean, I can sit here and read about a system or I can talk to a guy that has actually handled it and knows and really understands all the ins and outs of that system. And I'd rather do that. And part of that is just because I tend to be more relational anyway. And so when we talk about the contract, and and how that can either be an enabler or an inhibitor to how you want to conduct yourself in such a way, when people turn to the contract, it's often to find out how I'm gonna whack somebody just think what, what's the penalty for something. And so when we when we take the contract, and we I think that what Panos did cpmc when he Took the contract and he put it under glass. And he set it out there for everybody to look at, and they never opened it, they never had to go to that. Because there's just behaviors that are so akin to how you just want to behave as a human being anyway, just, I don't know, intuitively, it just makes so much sense to me that this is a relational way to conduct business and not a transactional way to conduct business. And the support structure, whether you have it contractually or not, but that you can just behave. And that goes back to the point I made earlier about, you know, I'm going to approach everything that I do in work in such a way and whether the contract supports it is irrespective of how I'm going to approach it. And I'm, I'm engaging with new owners and my new role as a principal and this practice group leader at hga, I've done much more of that than I ever have in my career in the last, you know, year and a half. If I'm engaging with you, for the first time, you're an owner on a new project with me, I'm going to behave in such a way and this is just the way that I do it. And I'm hoping that you're going to find something in here that you want to carry forward in your next project. And we'll continue to have those types of discussions. And so I think that, that we, you know, as leaders that we as, as, as people who are, you know, in the forefront and working with each other to move these things forward, have a responsibility to sort of lead by example, in such a way on projects. And Philippe, when you walk into a room, it just lights up because you've got this energy, and that you're going to bring that to everything that you're doing. Likewise, I want to I want to have that same effect that when you engage, either with your staff, inside your organization, and the things that you can do, to manage yourself or your business in a lean way, in person, or virtually, how you engage on projects, you're going to engage in such a way, everything we do, I hope that at the end of the day that I can look back, and maybe I'll be proud of some of the buildings that I've been involved in. But I think I'm gonna look back more fun, like, on the engagements that we had the friends that we made alone, miles per hour, miles per hour. That's the metric I'm going to use.
Felipe Engineer 57:08
Yeah, no, Dennis, I'm gonna I'm gonna go back and tally the smiles for our just in this call. Like, I think it's a I think we're like over 700. That's awesome. That's like, that is exactly what it is. And you touched on something, a couple things. And I don't know if you're aware of it or not. But what you hit on when you talked about the relational part, the people part. And then you talked about put, like what Panos did put in the contract under glass. People and interactions are more important than the processes. And there's relational things that you want to do that dennis is agile. Hmm, that is the core of the Agile Manifesto. And what people that are trying to be more adaptive have figured out, have been trying to practice for decades. That's the magic. So you're just lucky that you have that good disposition. You know, one way that went to call your parents and tell them they did a good job with you. They'd be so happy to know. Yeah. But that, that's amazing to hear. You know, that approach. And I think that does make a big difference. I remember being on a job. And it was a traditional delivery. And I asked the architect, I said, Listen, I know we have this traditional contract, and you're working directly for the owner and the client was in the room. I said, just tell me what things that you drew on the building so that I want to make sure I exercise care. And the RFI is that I write because I don't want you to be offended. I'm not picking on you. Or it's the you know, something in the design is lacking and I can't, I can't make the connections, you know, with the tradespeople. I'm gonna need your help. And the architect ended up telling me a story didn't and they didn't answer the question. By the way. I didn't find out what they drew until the end of the job. Oh, bummer. Yeah, and but, you know, they told me that they and this was a person who was probably 20 years in the business, and they said they learned in school, from their architecture professors. You are the last hope, the last stop to protect the client from those thieving general contractors and contractors. And it's your responsibility to keep the owner safe. And this person took it to heart. And I was like, wow, we've come a long way from that to what we're talking about today. And I'm glad we're we're moving away from that.
Denis Stroup 59:46
Yeah, absolutely. It makes you want to ask the question Who did this to you? Right I mean, there's there's inexperience that was had that that jaded your perception of that that's, that's a shame.
Felipe Engineer 59:55
It is. It is, but no, it's I'm looking at Time Dennis and we got a we got to put a bow on this bad boy. And that just means we have to have a second conversation at some point in the future. That's all. I enjoy that. Yeah, please feel free. Yeah, but no, it's been great having you on the show, man. I really appreciate it. I know you're going to inspire a lot of people to pick up that new KPI smiles per hour.
Denis Stroup 1:00:21
Outstanding. Well, Felipe, thank you again for the opportunity. It's been a pleasure speaking with you this morning.
Felipe Engineer 1:00:26
Likewise, have a good day. Dennis. Thanks, you too. Bye. Bye.
Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC show is created by Felipe and produced by a passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe, everybody. Let's go build!