March 16, 2022

On Point Lean Construction with David MacNeel

Many construction projects fail to finish on time and on budget. Adopting Lean Construction principles and tactics can help. David MacNeel helps facility owners and contractors deliver major capital projects early and under budget. He has coached over 40...

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Many construction projects fail to finish on time and on budget. Adopting Lean Construction principles and tactics can help. David MacNeel helps facility owners and contractors deliver major capital projects early and under budget. He has coached over 400 project teams in Lean principles, Lean tools, and Lean thinking.  Dave learned to apply Lean during his 20-year career with the nation’s largest concrete contractor as a Superintendent, PM, and Operations Manager. He also instructs several courses for LCI and AGC at the national level and is the Founder of On Point Lean Consulting, LLC. 


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Today’s episode is sponsored by Bosch RefinemySite. It’s a cloud-based construction platform. Bosch uses Lean principles to enable your entire team, from owners to trade contractors – to plan, communicate, document, and execute in real-time. It’s the digital tool that supports the Last Planner System® process and puts it all together in one simple, collaborative ecosystem. Bosch RefinemySite empowers your team, builds trust, creates a culture of responsibility, and enhances communication. Learn more and Try for free at 


Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI). This non-profit organization operates as a catalyst to transform the industry through Lean project delivery using an operating system centered on a common language, fundamental principles, and basic practices. Learn more at 


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David MacNeel  0:00  
Rarely ever do we do it in one step, we find a problem and fix it, it's done. It's always iterations and iterations to finally six weeks later, or five weeks later, whatever to get it resolved a little bit of experience was with the Agile software development. And I read a little I've done some reading on that. And you know how that was, it was kind of came about because of that constant change in software, which we have very similar constant change in construction. And so it led to the daily huddles, and the check ins and the sprints. And you know, whether you do a one week, two week, three week sprint, you know, I consider that like a like a six week look ahead, you know, hey, here's the here's the chunk that we're, that's right in front of us. How are we going to do it? You know, are we planning it? And then and then meeting every day, I think that's, that's what I really thought scrum wasn't still extorted, I think it is at a high level is that constant checking in constant status in constant updating, constant constraint removal, you know, being very aggressive with the constraints. And I think that's really a goldmine for a project to stay in flow, to not get out of whack and get all hurry up and wait, is to really tack those constraints. So I know that's an element of it, too. But maybe that's my own narrow focus.

Felipe Engineer  1:16  
Dave, everything you said is 99.8%. Correct? Sweet. Yeah, the only point to is that it's not constant statuses, like as people do work, and if they visualize their work with sticky notes, or the views of digital solution, doesn't matter, the status thing is made visual so that it's simple. And anyone can stand back and see the status at any given time. 24/7. Just like in a good last planner system, if people are actually marking off their tags as they go, and they're checking in every single day, you don't have to status things, you can just step up to the pool planning boards and see what's going on the scrubbing last planner system, the same foundation both came out in the 1990s. As frameworks for as pool system frameworks, they're very similar.

David MacNeel  2:00  
One thing I find is we think like, oh, we find a constraint, we remove a constraint, or I'm actually liking I've used constraint is the word I know. Now it's more like roadblocks. Whereas a constraint might be, hey, we're up against a rail, a railroad line, or a power line on the north side, that's a constraint, we can't access the north side because of the power lines or something like that. And I get it, that's more of a constraint versus a roadblock, meaning we don't know the fire hydrant locations, and we need to get him answered or something like that with constraint logs. And with tracking, I love tracking them visually in the meeting space, I love to keep the all the running active constraints up on a board. I like to call them icebergs. Sometimes when I'm coaching, like if you're out in the North Atlantic, and you see an iceberg, you know, six miles out, it's, you know, it's a piece of cake, you got plenty of time to adjust and steer around the iceberg. But if it's 600 feet out, or 60 feet out, you've probably got a problem, you're gonna hit it. So I like that visual part of it. But what I find is, is it's always a it's never, we got a problem. And we answered it, you know, it's always like, well, I sent in the thing, they sent back more questions. Okay, then I sent him some more stuff, and then they want some samples. And then we did some things. And we know there's always this this series, a series of things over a period of weeks before you actually wrestle the constraint to the ground. So I you know, I like to make sure that at least in my last planner coaching that we're doing that we're we're keeping that keeping track of that that's why I said constant status thing, if you will, or because we don't have you know, boards or a lot of times or iPads or apps that show a progress bar or something like that. It just says okay, but it's reminder the team at least once a week, if not every day, where are we at? What did we do have we have we moved the ball forward. So it's how do we capture that and keep that live is what that's what I meant by constant status.

Felipe Engineer  3:52  
Okay, that is perfect. Fantastic. 

Sponsors  3:55  
Welcome to The EBFC Show, the easier, better, for construction podcast. I'm your host Felipe Engineer Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by Bosh RefineMySite is a cloud based construction collaboration platform that applies Lean principles to enable your entire team to plan, communicate and execute in real time. It's the digital tool that works in tandem with your last planner system process and puts it all together in one simple, collaborative ecosystem. This easy to use platform is available in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French and can be used on desktops, tablet and mobile devices. According to Spencer Easton, scheduling manager at Oakland construction, refined my site in my opinion, is the best cleanest tool on the market for the last time. Here's what our users have to say. We've looked at three other digital scheduling platforms and none compared to the straightforward approach refund my site takes from milestone planning all the way down to daily tasks. This program gives every general contractor and their trade partners meaningful collaboration, accountability and KPIs. Registered today to try refine my site for free for 60 days. Today's show is also 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. Check the show notes for more information. Now, to the show. 

Felipe Engineer  5:42  
Welcome to the show. Dave MacNeel. Dave it is my honor to have a person with your experience and travel world traveler worldwide lean implementer to be on the show, sharing with our audience some of these nuggets of wisdom, hard fought nuggets of wisdom, happy to have you on the show, and even happier that I did get to shake your hand hashtag IRL in real life.

David MacNeel  6:11  
Happy to be here.

Felipe Engineer  6:11  
Let the good people of The EBFC Show know who you are how you got into the biz. And what you got cooking right now.

David MacNeel  6:20  
Yeah, well, um, so I went to school for construction. I've always wanted to be a construction, I thought I wanted to be a civil engineer. But I really wanted to be more of a construction manager. And I thought you had to be a civil engineer to do that. And quickly found that engineering was not my forte in the calculus and physics and chemistry classes that you have to take in engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Go Bearcats. And so switch to I found construction management, which was a fairly new degree. And that that's what that's what I love because it was kind of like half business, half engineering. So it was like business light plus engineer or engineering light and really construction focus. So did that did a Co Op program. So it took me five years to get out. But I graduated with almost two full years of experience and had a really cool Co Op job in Florida actually worked on at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base on a titan for rocket Assembly Building third largest enclosed space building in the world, after the VAB for the shuttle and the Boeing triple seven plant in Washington. So super cool project, super fired up about big league construction. I mean, this was like a 45 storey building, and they put rockets in it and put them together in the building and then take it out to the launch pad and shoot it off. So super cool. And so that kind of got me started in the construction world. I ran out of school then went with Baker concrete. So I had a 20 plus year career with Baker Concrete, nation's largest concrete subcontractor. I think they're number 16 or 17. In size and volume of all subcontractors out there, mechanical, electrical, all of those. So the that's where I found lean. So I spent about 15 years with Baker before finding lean, and it was always you know, get it done go as fast as you can work as hard as you can work nights and weekends if need be. You know, we always call it you know, putting in a half a day that was working from 6am to 6pm. It work and a half a day is what we call that. So it was a it was rewarding. But it was also kind of stressful and coming coming around that 15 year mark, my kids were younger. And there were some more demands on my time for soccer games and ballet recitals and things. And it was about that time that I found lean. And I think our president Dan Baker had was hearing about it in some of the circles he was running in. And this was in like 2005 2006. And so we got to figure out what this Lean stuff is. It sounds like it's it's coming. And we want to we want to make sure that we were able to service our customers, mainly our GC clients that if they if they say Hey, can you guys do lien we want to be able to say yes. So I was tasked with going out and figure out what lien was and there wasn't much at all out there. There was some manufacturing stuff but very little in construction finally did stumble across the LCI lean construction Institute and attended a two day seminar with Cynthia sow, Greg Howel and Glenn Ballard, at the University of Cincinnati, so I did you know for a while it was in Greg and Glenn and Cynthia, but they're all academics. and I just finished my I got elected to be that the guinea pig because I just finished my MBA at Xavier University and other Cincinnati school. And they said, Well, you're used to the kind of that stuff and you can take the academic, you know, wall up and see if it's for real or not. So I did, and it was tough, it was still tough, have even haven't been in the academic world recently to get get my head around it. And then we did the airplane game. We did the the Lego airplane game and that is when my light bulb went off. And I was like, oh, man, this, this could do it. This could be the thing. Prior to that, in about 2001, that's when I finished my MBA. So it was it spring or winter of that year. We we did my final capstone course was around a book called The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt Theory of Constraints, fantastic, fantastic Herbie and the Boy Scouts and everything. And so since 2001, I had been applying it somewhat to my own projects. So didn't know about Lean didn't hadn't heard about Lean until more like 2006, I had like four or five years of experimenting with Theory of Constraints kind of thinking, even though it was all manufacturing. And man, it was hard to really know direct correlation to what we do.

But the principles were all there. So I started applying some of those on projects and started getting some really good results, we were able to go a little bit faster, we were safer. Our product productivities were a little bit better. And then found last planner and LCI in 2006 2007. And we started implementing on a project, we got some consultants to come in and teach us how to do it. And mainly last planner, and I didn't understand it all in the beginning. All the different parts and pieces PPC, I didn't I couldn't get my head around that in the beginning. But what I saw, what I saw was my foremen and superintendents getting together and really having these great conversations and really working stuff out. And doing it before we you know, hit a hit a wall or, you know, run into an issue. So I was all for it. So it only took me about two or three weeks of doing that to say, Wow, this is really this is really awesome. And and then you know, as time went on, did some more studying realize some of those pieces that I kind of threw off the truck. Initially, I was like, Ooh, looking back, like I shouldn't have done that. And we really need to put these back on the truck. And so that was a lesson learned for me about with anyone want to coach teams. Now I don't I don't throw anything off the truck, I may, I may ratchet it down to the very minimum. But I'm not gonna say it's only these three things or these five things. It's all 10, or whatever the number is. And so then, so then deployed at a baker for six years as an internal coach, and lean champion. And so I was still an operations manager. Some lean was kind of my, my nights and weekends and hobby, I guess you would say the other half of your workday, the other half of my work the other half. Yeah, the other six to six. Yeah. And so then, so did that. So then did it internally for six years, did about 40, some projects, 30 to 3540, something like that projects that coached mainly in my region. So I had some that I was directly in control of. And those went way better than the ones where I was coaching teams that I was not in control of. Because when the teams that I was I was going when I could when I control the people's money, and that raises and bonuses and reviews, and everything went through me, when I said we're doing Lean, they did it. When I went to another region where I was not the boss, it didn't go over at all. So that was kind of a lesson learned. So anytime I would go to these other regions, I would say, you know, Hey, boss, Man of the region, this is your program, I'll be your coach, I'll be your person to help you. But you have to make this happen. And you have to do things to make this and and you have to not subvert it either. Don't Don't do the things that can because I can put it into a tailspin. So then, so then, after Baker vessels around 2012, I left and with Greg house company for better part of a year and after that left and started my own company on point link, and had been doing it ever since.

Felipe Engineer  14:25  
Yeah, congratulations. And you've got you have good good references. Got a lot of mutual friends that think the world of you in the way that you operate. They're like this guy. Yeah, you're welcome. So yeah, anybody listening if you can't tell from his rough and gruff descriptions, he's got boots on the ground. He knows how to make it happen. With real life teams. He's not academic, and he's not scared of academia. There's nothing wrong with reading a good research paper and figuring out some experiments to try like, a lot of people do get caught up on PPC like Jesse Hernandez and I did an entire hour, just beating PPC today. On our review of the lien builder book, so there's a lot of good times I suggest you check out the learns of missteps podcast where we did that in an episode, if you ever want to. Yeah, you want to hear some people talk about that. But yeah, a lot of people that learn pull planning, never even touch PPC, which is just playing a percent complete, and they don't know why to look at it, it's not explained well. And that's just the function I think of telephone game, like somebody learned something that learns from somebody else that doesn't go to the source. And the next thing you know that people think they're getting letter grades, or you have a journal contractor, using PPC at a Pareto chart, find out who's the worst offender and just beating down on a trade contractor instead of realizing that they're creating the conditions that are making them have that PPC, because they're not doing reverse phase pull planning, or reverse phase, or just stepping through backwards and forwards passes of the of the sequence, because they want to just jump right to calendar time, or they're just trying to push a schedule. And taking everybody listening. If you take your P six, schedule, your critical path schedule, and you vomit that onto a whiteboard with sticky notes, you have not done pull planning, nor have you done less planner system. All you've done is found another way to micromanage congratulations on your creativity. But that's

David MacNeel  16:18  
All you got. Yeah,

Felipe Engineer  16:19  
Exactly. But I think I think it'd be really good for the listeners to hear one of your bad experiences. They say that good news travels. But bad news travels even faster. So could you share a bad last planner system story?

David MacNeel  16:35  
I have seen in my time several failed implementations where it didn't catch on?

Felipe Engineer  16:43  
Yeah, let's hear. So we can talk about what if people are trying the same thing. We could give them some nuggets, so they can avoid or bored or adapt?

David MacNeel  16:51  
Yeah, it's really around, it really circles back to leadership, you know, that, you know, say it always starts at the top. And that is so true. With lean and anything else, safety, anything, any other thing you're trying to improve. If the leadership doesn't support it, and push it, it will die very quickly on the vine. So I've seen that happen, I've seen where they'll get pushed back. And they're like, Well, you know, Bob's, he's Bob has been here for 30 years. And he's a good guy. And you know, we don't want to overburden Bob and and so then it Bob thinks he's got a free pass and he just can skip out. And then pretty soon, the meetings tail off, and then they just come to a stop, and then they're just back to their normal firefighting. You know, I've seen I've seen that happen several times. I I've seen I've seen very rarely where it can be turned to the dark side. There's what I call it, your Star Wars fan. You know, I grew up in the 70s. With the Star Wars. I think I saw the first one like nine times in a theater or something. But you can you can turn lean to the dark side. I've had GCS and put people on notice for PPC and things like that. And I'm like, Oh, God, are you doing that? Don't do that. So or, or just use it as a as a bat. You know, I tell him, you know, you go and you do a pull plan. You give people information. Sometimes you'll see a GC take over and start moving the sticky notes and saying, Okay, you're doing this, then this, then this, then this. And you know, people just kind of shrug their shoulders, and then they come back at you afterwards with like a bat made out of sticky notes. No, you said you said you said and like well, no, there's this thing at the bottom where it said, I need this. I need the tower crane for two hours a day, or I need this out of my way. Or if you can get this approval by this time. And they forget about all that like, no, no, no. You said you'd be done November 1, or whatever. It's like, well, yeah, but you got to read the whole thing. So those are some of the negatives that I've seen and some of the twisting that I've seen it. So it's usually that leadership and or being misapplied. I guess he would say the misapplication of it. The two biggies.

Felipe Engineer  19:08  
I'd classify those definitely as leadership. And if we don't, even as a leader, like you have to get at least half a step ahead of the people or you want to follow you. So if you're a leader, listen to Dave's examples here. If you're trying to use the traditional push scheduling methods that you you pass out your 75 page six week look ahead to a bunch of people and you just hammer people on dates on like unfinished dates and you forget all that predecessor activity that you didn't clear out that you didn't make ready for them. You don't have any authority to hammer people for not making it because you've done zero to give them what you promised them which is an area to work and do productive work. I like I love that David. I don't love that that happens. I love that it's because So something that crashes people, that's definitely a good example. And I think, you know, just to unpack the PPC a little bit the plant percent complete as people finish for those who have never seen last binary in real life, as people finish every day work that they committed to that typically draw a line through the tag, and then the superintendent comes behind them and draws another line in creating an axe. And we see the same thing and design as well, that if you're using a digital solution, there's a way to mark that this activity is complete, and that will automatically count PVC. I've heard people say that they don't know how to calculate PPC. So just for everybody, like if I had 10 tags planned for today, Dave and I are working and and he does five, and I do four. And we've axed off and the superintendent agrees. You know, Stacy, the superintendent says, Yes, Dave and Felipe, you did do these tags, and I can't finish one. There's one uncrossed off tag, it's just nine divided by 10 times 100 or 90%, which Glen Ballard and Greg would say we were we were saying sandbagging if we had 90%, PPC.

David MacNeel  21:14  
Yeah, like this kind of the rules of you know, if you're, and I've seen this with PPC is if you're, if you're in the mid 70s, low 70s to mid 70s, say 70 to 75, you're probably on track schedule wise, and you're probably right on with your labor hours, your efficiencies. Once you get above that, then you start to gain, you start to work, we're gaining time on the schedule, if we're in the high 70s, low 80s, or upper 80s, we're probably gaining on schedule, and we're probably banking labor hours as well, we're probably doing it for less than what we originally planned to. And then I say, you know, if you're steadily in the good teams, you know, you'll you'll be high 80s, low 90s. But if you're constantly in the mid mid 90s, and above, you're probably just lying, you're probably gaming the system or fooling yourself. And I had one team in my and I probably I probably I've counted, I've touched over 400 different project teams, probably closer to 500. Now, I've had one team that actually was running in the mid to upper 90s 9690 590-492-9794, you know, week after week, and I'm like, Okay, guys, this What are you doing, and it was a high rise bed tower in Vegas. And these, this team was really dialed into tact even though they didn't know what tact was. They never heard of tact. But they were on a cycle. They were cycle time, cycle time cycle time. And I said, Man, you guys are good. And they said, Yeah, if the people are in, you know, the subs, if they're supposed to be out of an area, and they're not, we throw their stuff off the building. And you don't have to do that one time. You don't have to do that one time and they get they understand cycle time or tact very quickly. And I don't know that they ever actually did that. But maybe back in the old days they did I don't think they currently did it. But but they got on they got on a flow man and they and they understand the value of money and time when you're talking about casinos and making million millions of dollars a day. They don't they don't mess around. So that was one team that ran in the high 90s. And did it and and without and without gaming it or anything like that. It can be done PPC. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I know that you have weeks when you get 100 Hey, we got all 10 things done. Hey, great, you know, but that's it's not typical that you get that all day every day. For sure. It's still construction, we still have variation quite a bit

Felipe Engineer  23:41  
As people are setting up their last planner system Dave. And the closer the closer they can build it when they're doing their Phase pull plan to being like a tag plan or a cycle where they can see some repetition. And they size the area and the handoff small enough that you can see real good progress and handoffs from one trade to another in areas, the more likely you'll see PPC numbers 80% and higher consistently week over week.

David MacNeel  24:09  
Yeah, yeah, definitely breaking it down to smaller areas. Yeah, that was one of the big things from from Yash that I learned was, you know, you know, don't you know for new construction obviously changes when you get into renovation and other types of work. But for new construction, your your your batch size or your tact areas need to be about 2000 square meters or 8000 square feet. That's about as big as you want them to be. And actually two I'd like to learn a little bit more from you about Scrum. So you have a new book out and I really so I've been I've been in the in the lead world every go construction scrum I saw Nice. So I just got Jason's Schroeder's books on tact and some other things I wanted to check into that I've got some experience with tact and Janosch from BMW did a plant with him in Mexico, for BMW and like 20 15 So I got kind of baptized into it there. But this like Jason's kind of taking it to a whole new level, which is kind of cool and really want to find out what the Scrum is about what I mean, I sort of know enough to be dangerous about it. And I know that's kind of your your thing. And so I was hoping you could meet a long convert a longtime lean person that probably thinks they already do Scrum, intact. I do. I think they deep down. He said, you already do that. I would say that I do. But I'm probably confident in that we don't I don't do it as well as I probably could or get the most out of it. So I'd like to learn from you.

I got a chance to go to Germany, Dave and hang out with Janosch in his home turf, at BMW, their big corporate headquarters and found out Munich. Yep, he is actually a scrum master himself. Oh, cool. Yes, we have that in common. I saw some of the things he was doing. I said, you know, I was like, that looks suspiciously familiar. And then he admitted to me he's like, oh, yeah, the scrum master. It's like, Ah, ha.

Ha, yeah.

Felipe Engineer  26:08  
And I told him that even tact, intact. If you do tech, well, I would consider the person facilitating as the train conductor. It could be the superintendent or it could be somebody like yourself or Yamanashi or Jason Schroeder or Spencer, if you're so fortunate to have one of you on your team on your project, then those individuals are acting exactly like a scrum master, serving the team helping to eliminate roadblocks. Getting things out of the way, helping to get the plan just pulling out. For people what can be an ideal plan, a better plan? And then letting those trains get out of the station? Make it happen? Oh, excellent. Excellent. Yeah. So that's really good. Yeah, I'm a huge fan of Yash. He put us through a simulation. I gotta, I'll just share a yawn our story. So it's Jason, myself, Spencer, and a couple other folks and that Yan was just brought in. And we're going to do his simulation game, which I'm sure it's how he taught you in Mexico as well.

David MacNeel  27:01  
We roof panels in the little foundation.

Felipe Engineer  27:05  
He says, Yeah, he's like, I'm gonna give you guys 15 minutes to plan. You can play in any way you want. You can scrum you can last plan or whatever. And then we're going to try your way and then I'm going to create the tech plan with you. And then we'll try my way. And so we went two hours. No way we have first he must. He was just so fascinated. No two hours of planning before we before we did anything for everyone listening for a 15 minutes simulation, Jason Schroeder, myself and Spencer. For like two hours. Finally, Jada, she's like, that's enough. He's like, That's how you got to. He's like, You got to start. And we were like in the planning. We were starting to like fight with each other a little bit on like, how, how it's gonna go and we thought as small as a batch size as possible. So we had something like 54 areas. And we finally did go into the simulation. We finished in 14 minutes and change which Janusz thought was like shocking that we actually finished under the 15 minute window. And then he told us that the record time is something sub eight minutes. Wow. And then he had us go through we went back through and create an attack and I think we finished in an easy peasy 10 ish minutes. Okay, some something around there. And Spencer, Jason, if you're listening, you can correct my times if I'm wrong. I don't remember the exact times but but the time with him like we we fell into the tact. And I'm saying fall into tech as we'd like fell into a flow. We lost track who was in charge. And it really did become a system of pool, like almost effortless pool. And I do remember Jason singing during that second round. No, no stern, all the stern voices, and the harsh conversations were gone. From the first round, all was forgiven. Running attack was just so smooth and so much fun. I told you, I said, um, I was taking notes. And I said, I want to figure out how to scrum this whole thing. Make the backlog and follow the steps of how you showed us because it absolutely does fit inside of the scrum framework. And you can use Scrum with tact or tact inside of the scrum framework. So they just can't just answer your questions as you did. You did bring up the book construction Scrum, ladies and gentlemen. I did I'm quite interested. Yeah, this is not about the book. But Dave asked on his own unprompted, your checks in the mail.

David MacNeel  29:37  
I didn't see that. Or where do you put the foreword out there maybe a couple chapters like that in a download or something like that. Yeah. So I think I read the first page or so and, yeah, so it was interesting.

Felipe Engineer  29:48  
I think we made like 50 pages free or something. It's quite quite a big chunk of the book is available for free at But, in a nutshell, Dave, Scrum is a framework built on lean foundations, so absolutely honors all the work done. Companies like Toyota, and William Edwards Deming and others, but those are just some of my favorites of some of my favorites. I'm biased. Where can you pull this in? Like if I'm already mid flight on a job? Can I start to if I'm litening now, and I'm already on a project, can I start scrum now, even though it's not day one? Yes, you can. If I'm about to implement tact, can I start doing Scrum? Yes, you can also in Jason's book, his new textbook, edition, Second Edition. There's a chapter on scrum my contribution. You're welcome. So when you read about Scrum, in the tact that was adapted from a chapter in my book for that Scrum, for that tact example, I think I'm on page five, with this beautiful face as a contributor, as Josh Yeah. Y'all know, to Louis is also a contributor.

David MacNeel  30:51  
And he showed me mathematically 100 ways why that's true. And it seems to work out, it really does. So if you've got smaller batches, and you're breaking that into those one week chunks, whether it's a three weeks of three weeks of duct work, or five weeks of electrical work, that's fine. But you can break it into those, those chunks and make sure you're delivering on those. And then after week one, you're 1/5 of the way done. And if you're weak to your two fifths of the way done. Yeah. So that's, that's where I think we were doing a lot of tax type stuff before, you know, it really became this big push in the industry, but not to the level I think that Jason Schroeder and Janos have taken it to.

Felipe Engineer  31:29  
Yeah, absolutely. And they've now with even with Marcos help, they've brought in these three different pair metrics so that you can, because Jason was saying like early in his early implementations of tact, just taking things to the 10,000 square foot level, was incredibly beneficial for making good flow. And now at the parametrics, you can mathematically see if the range plus or minus, should you break it down smaller based on the types of work and how you've done the package. And you can gain even more throughput, give the trades even more time, it's like counterintuitive, it's like what I can give the trades more time, change that geographic area. And that radically increases the throughput time, which puts more work in place with less effort with more consistent couriers way higher quality. So there's there's a little bit of math involved. But Jason's website LVD construction is tea. He's got a new tax template that includes the parametrics on there, so you can run simulations in Excel, and very quickly figure out should we be at a 10,000 square foot area and 8000? Should we go smaller? What happens if we go bigger, and then you can just pick and then still work with your trades to develop that very tightly coordinated tech plan? I've been through his train. That's the only reason I know, like, I'm talking like, I'm talking about because I've been trained.

David MacNeel  32:57  
Good stuff. Yeah.

Felipe Engineer  32:58  
It is good stuff. And it's out there for free. So check that out. For sure. Dave, what do you see, from your perspective, you've been touched almost 500 projects, what is the role of a consultant like yourself to help a team implement some of these methods like last binder system?

David MacNeel  33:15  
Um, I think I think there's a lot of different roles for the consultant obviously, there's that leadership role that you need from the top brass of the company that really has to support it and want it and make it known that they want it and, and really driving it. So the consultant then really becomes the end when I when I deliver boot camps and stuff to kick off projects. I tell folks that their their half half education, you know, what is this thing and what are we doing? And half inspiration, you know, making them want to do it making them see the value? What's in it for them? And the benefits and that kind of thing. So half inspiration, half education, I think is overall in general, the consultants role but then it's it's it's like it's like coaches, you know, you know, all the greats have you know, Michael Jordan has a coach LeBron James as a coach Tiger Woods, you know, us name all these great athletes. And I think that it can accelerate your adoption I think you can do Lean without a coach. I think you but you can also go whitewater rafting on level five rapids in West Virginia. Without a guide you absolutely can get a boat you can get a paddle and you can go do it. There might not be nearly as fun without a guide that's been down through there and knows where the rocks and the swirls and the other things are so it can keep you out of trouble. It can keep you from developing bad habits like like a golf coach you know, like hey, you're lifting your head your you know your chicken wing in your elbow or whatever, you know, somebody's watching you do it. And then you're that objective third party and you know if you can bring experience and show them ways to do this and make their lives easier I think it helps turn them on to it. Again, the inspiration side. So those are the those are the primary things right? And just just being with them, watching them through it, you know, in and there's always there's always questions. It's always pushed back and I literally heard it all. I'm like, Go, come on. Yeah, I'm like, Alright, whatever you got, let's go. I've heard it, you know, tough telling some of your pushback.

Felipe Engineer  35:22  
That works in California. It doesn't work in in Ohio.

David MacNeel  35:25  
Oh, yeah. That's for hospitals or, or that's for jobs that where you have the same thing over and over and over again, like, if you have if you're doing an 80 storey high rise? Yeah, man, that's just like building Toyota's you know, in Georgetown, Kentucky Yeah, you just do the same thing. And that's, that's where we should do lane. And I'm like, No, that's where you need it, the least, you need it the most, where you have variation when the first floor is different than the second floor, and the West Wing is different than the east wing and the north, you know, that's where you really need a good plan. So those are those are some of the some of the pushback I get. But uh, but yeah, that's what the coach is there for is to just be with the team, help them understand it. And I go by the, the Boy Scouts, the edge method, explain, demonstrate, guide and enable. So you know, explain what we're doing, demonstrate it yourself, here's here's how to do it, guide them as they do it, and then enable them to go out on their own. And that's that should be every consultants role is to is to, you know, get them in, get it get ever been in the boat, get a paddle in the right direction, get them get a row and at the same time, and then you hop out of the boat and go find another boat and they keep going.

Felipe Engineer  36:30  
Best nugget there that I have yet to hear enough is that the coach is giving that objective third party look and feedback. Dave, can you share a story and you can anonymize, you know, the different people weren't worth something where you saw something that was obvious to you, like spots on a cow. But it was completely people on the job, were blind to it, you share a story like that.

David MacNeel  36:57  
I did an interesting thing several years back. So there was a large GC that had like a summit of all their superintendents. So they had like 40 superintendents in the room. And they all seem to have had some level of experience, or at least over half, probably at least two thirds, if not all had some experience with lean and last planner. And so they wanted, they wanted me to come and kind of I think I took a half a day maybe. And they really wanted to get dialed in on on pool planning. So we did a pull planning, simulation one that I do, typically when I'm introducing new teams, and it was crazy to see how differently everybody did it. They the way every single superintendent had a different opinion on how to do it and how to do sticky notes and how to do this and they had no consistency. So that was just a really weird thing. Like Oh, my You guys are all the same company. And every single one of your people has a different opinion of how to do this and what how to do this. And, you know, some reason swim lanes and some weren't. And some were, you know, it was just all over the place. So that I found that kind of strange, but it's not that strange, really, because everybody some people have different you know, every every coach is different right to the way they teach it the way they explain it. So there's different methods and procedures. So I thought that one kind of really stood out as a as a while, you know, you know, because you lead to that standardization, you can you know, in the toilet away, they say you can't improve anything unless you have a standard. So how do you get to that, but again, I also say that anything you do Lean Scrum, tact wise, you're better off than having not done it. Even if you don't do it to the full extent or, you know, you check every single box, you know, just do something do if you're just doing parts of it, that's fine, too. But you're you're you get the most value if you're doing it all right, if you're doing last planner, plus scrum plus tag and you're doing all the parts of pieces of each, that's where you're gonna get the most benefit. Yeah, you can throw things out the window and you're decreasing your, your effectiveness thing.

Felipe Engineer  39:00  
That's true. I was with the case appointments with a superintendent a month ago in the middle of the country. And he was using last planner, a lite version of tact and Scrum and his phone never rang and we walked through the project and it was nothing but compliments from form and after forming after foreman. And the job was immaculate. It was like oh, I just I was thinking like you don't use an all these things does make a difference like..

David MacNeel  39:33  
It really does.

Felipe Engineer  39:34  
I asked him I was like is your phone battery charged? Like show me your phone? And he showed me this like okay, this is different Cuz usually walk a job as superintendent. It's just non stop.

David MacNeel  39:44  
Taking the call take another call take another call to keep their attention for 10 minutes.

Felipe Engineer  39:50  
Yeah, so credible. So no, I love that story. How there's a lot of variation, and you definitely I'm a full subscribe to Jeffrey likers, work that total way and, and we realizing some of those lessons that if you're just improving willy nilly, you're just making more chaos. You've got to have some standards to improve from so that you can holistically make massive gains and as little improvements and make those gains. So I just want to get your take you've talked, we've talked a lot about leadership, what is the difference? Or what role does the field personnel the project front facing people play versus management, in your experiences with either lean or last planner system.

David MacNeel  40:36  
So involving the craft, and, you know, through the foreman and their leadership, down from the superintendent and their overall guidance, you know, you can really get some great input and ideas and feedback. So we started at Baker, we did a, we call them just like a regular SQ P, safety, quality, productivity, kind of chat, if you will. And we would take different folks off of different crews, we would take a rod Buster and somebody off the column crew and somebody off the deck stripping crew and you know, a carpenter off the foundation crew, get them together, buy some pizza, or whatever, for lunch and sit down just talk about what's, what's happening, what's going on, you know, what, what kind of things are they seeing what's, what's going well, what we work on. And just having those open honest, discussions really surfaced a ton of things that we didn't even think about, right? As far as for productivity, for safety, for quality. So we didn't limit it to just productivity, which you think of for Lean, we threw in quality we threw in, threw in safety. And just by going out and getting it I learned that, you know, I see I see so often on sometimes on projects, I see a suggestion box outside the trailer, and I just want to go don't don't do that don't put up suggestion boxes, they never work.

Felipe Engineer  42:10  
You just saw Dave put a fictitious gun to his head and blow his brains out. For for this sound effect was.

David MacNeel  42:17  
Don't do that. Because you're not gonna get anything, you know. And I use the story like, hey, the last time you were out at a breakfast restaurant, and you know, something was not right. You know, your eggs were a little cold or you know, you didn't get a coffee refill? Did you actually stop and you know, use that comment card at the Bob Evans and put it in there? Probably not you do. But you didn't. But I always say but if the manager came by and said, Hey, Felipe, we're really working on our quality and our performance at this Bob Evans and we want to be really proud of it. We want to know if there's anything that you experienced that wasn't that you would say could be an improvement for us and our chefs or our servers, you know, we want to hear it. You probably tell them you probably like yeah, sure, yeah, my my coffee didn't get refilled, you know, and my eggs were a little runny or something like that, you know, you would give it up. But I think as leaders you got to go get it you got to go get those improvement ideas, you got to go get those suggestions. I'm always bath I'm always blown away when I read the reread the toilet away and see that they get 80,000 improvement suggestions a year at one plant. And I think they even have the book about their suggestions Toyota suggestion system and how it says I think it was like 20 years or 4040 years and 20 million suggestions is that one of the is the subtitle in the book. But they go get it, they ask for it. They train it, they have focus groups, they they they they do that. So back to the craft back to your question. So the craft really is the frontline. They're the ones seeing it. They're the ones who have the heartache. They're the ones who have things that bug them, you know, like Paul Akers, you know, fix what bugs you. So we just bring him in and say what's bugging you? And you'll, you'll, they'll say, you know, hey, we're, you know, we're destroying the formwork because the carpenters are putting way too many nails in, or sometimes I'll even use screws, and then we put in a thing like, Okay, how many nails should we be putting in, you know, it only needs eight in this in this in this run, you don't need to put in 25 nails, it's not making it any better. It's just making it harder to strip. So those kinds of things would come out and just stuff well, you know, you know, Portal at placement and all kinds of things. And it really became very powerful. And then it became the thing of how do you manage it and what do you do with it? So that was one of the struggles we had with it. Because we were doing these we were we were giving out incentives you know, like hey, every time you turn in an improvement, you get your name and a hat and we draw you know, $100 Home Depot gift card or something at the end of the month and that kind of stuff and it really worked we on the one job doing it for just a couple months. I think it was like six or eight months the last six or eight months of the job. We got like 400 improvements into it. origins and oppressive? Yeah, I was pretty, pretty proud of that. And I thought we did it right. And we, we use the focus groups to get the majority of them, but then then you turn them loose, then you turn the folks loose, and then they think of it, you know, while they're out there, and they're like, oh, yeah, that does bug me, I'm gonna write that down and put mine, you know, get an entry into the monthly drawing. So that's something that we're so that's where the field really comes in. And again, once you once you do that, show that respect for people by asking them, you know, what do you think? What's your opinion? What's your take on this? Then they're involved, man, they own it, they own the schedule, and they'll they'll move heaven and earth to make things happen if you involve them. If you're just barking orders and pushing stuff down. It's like, yeah, that's Dave's plan. Maybe I will, maybe I won't, we'll see. But if I asked, How long do you think it's gonna take? And they tell me four days? I'm like, okay, cool. Are you sure? You know, is it really good four days? Like, yeah, I'm pretty sure I can do it. Okay, then I turn him loose. And by golly, it's gonna be done in probably three days, usually, because they don't want to let you down.

Felipe Engineer  46:02  
I love that story. How you bringing the ownership, but you're doing tight couple of response, responsibility on the leader to go get it critical? Yes, absolutely. And then you're turning around immediately, taking action, empowering people to make the changes. And it creates this beneficial feedback loop of more changes, more suggestions, more action, more benefits to the production, more benefits to the worker to better respect. That's a win win, win, win win.

David MacNeel  46:32  
Yeah. And it perpetuates. It keeps growing. Yeah. And then the unfortunate thing is the job is over. And then you got to go build that culture again on another project. But that's the leaders job.

Felipe Engineer  46:40  
Absolutely. A leaders job. Dave, it has been an honor talking to you, you delivered. As promised your PPC, I'm gonna give it to you right now. You're in 100%? Well, there's definitely, there's definitely more things we need to talk about. I'm going to give you the last word. Yeah, I'm gonna have you come back. 100%, you get the last word. And then we're gonna call this, we're gonna call this one, we're gonna shift this to the Done column.

David MacNeel  47:06  
And four? Oh, well, I'll just close close out by saying, I mean, thank you for today for what you're doing. for bringing this out into the world. I think it's been sorely lacking. And I know it was lacking definitely for me when I started, hover many years ago. And I think this is this is a great resource for folks to, you know, learn and learn from others and stuff like that, too. If they don't have the option of, you know, intermingling at LCI and other places like that, where you do get that great, that great coming, the gathering of minds and sharing of information and things. So I think we definitely need more of these. I think we need more, you know, podcasts and blogs and things like that, that that give people the tools and resources I think, you know, things like the lien builder and you know, the taxing and stuff that that Josh is doing and elevate. You know what Jason's doing? I think that's all been been really cool to see. See it come see it grow. Because I know when I was out there it was, it was a desert and there was nothing. And now now now I look across the desert and I see Las Vegas. I see Felipe and I see Jason and I see all these people in construction. So So kudos to you for doing what you're doing.

Felipe Engineer  48:15  
It's been so much fun. I can't wait to have you back on very soon. 

Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC Show is created by Felipe and produced by passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe everybody. Let's go build!


David MacNeelProfile Photo

David MacNeel

Lean Coach

David MacNeel helps facility owners and contractors deliver major capital projects early and under budget. He has coached over 400 project teams in Lean principles, Lean tools, and Lean thinking. Dave learned to apply Lean during his 20-year career with the nation’s largest concrete contractor as a Superintendent, PM, and Operations Manager. He instructs several courses for LCI and AGC at the national level and is the Founder of On Point Lean Consulting, LLC.