March 3, 2021

Superintendent Led Lean Construction - Joe Donarumo, The Lean Builder

Joe Donarumo serves Linbeck as a Senior Superintendent in Fort Worth, Texas. He specializes in developing and leading high-performing field teams in Healthcare construction. As Director of Lean Application, Joe is responsible for Linbeck's Lean processes...

Joe Donarumo serves Linbeck as a Senior Superintendent in Fort Worth, Texas. He specializes in developing and leading high-performing field teams in Healthcare construction. As Director of Lean Application, Joe is responsible for Linbeck's Lean processes, continuous improvement, and practices. His passion for Lean implementation comes to life in his book, The Lean Builder, which he co-authored with Keyan Zandy. It is a realistic business fable written for field leaders and last planners to help them begin their Lean journey with respect to Lean implementation at the field level.

The Lean Builder Blog:

The book explores practical Lean applications in the story and with step by step guidance for:

* Daily huddles

* Visual communication

* The “eight wastes”

* Managing constraints

* Pull planning / The Last Planner System

Get Joe and Keyan’s book here:



Connect with Joe via

LinkedIn at



Today’s episode is sponsored by Construction Accelerator. Construction Accelerator is an online learning system for teams and individuals that offers short, in-depth videos on numerous Lean topics for Builders and Designers to discuss and implement, just like on this podcast. This is tangible knowledge at your fingertips in the field, in the office, or at home. Support your Lean learning at your own pace. Learn more at


Today's episode is also 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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Joe  0:00  
I shaved my head this morning. Can you see?

Felipe Engineer  0:05  
Your head looks great, Joe Donarumo. I made this this book cover for you this morning.

Joe  0:14  
Oh, I see. Oh yeah, that's awesome, dude.

Felipe Engineer  0:18  
Yeah. Welcome to the show, Joe Donarumo. Joe, it is my pleasure to finally have you on the EBFC Show. I'm so glad you're taking time today to spend with me and to share a little more about yourself and what's going on how you got started with becoming an author of the link which is awesome. 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 construction accelerator.     

Sponsors  1:00  
The design and construction industries come up with and build great things. But we also build and waste in how we do those things, in our interactions in our contracts in our logistics. So what does this do for our bottom line, or our next project, the best firms maximize their value by removing that waste, and only doing what's essential to the work what makes them money. Construction accelerator will train you to see the waste and give your teams the lean tools and experience to remove it immediately. All online. Construction accelerator is made up of three to nine minute videos that can be watched again and again, in the field, at the office and at home. All broken down by topic. need to learn pool planning, we have videos on the process, how to set up a room and how to kick off a team need to set up a target value delivery project, we discuss all the aspects of TVD especially cost. Or maybe you just need to brush up on five as well. We have videos on that as well. You can download and print reference materials to use on site to immediately translate watching into doing subscribe today at tri ca Let's build an industry, not just a project.

Felipe Engineer  2:12  
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. So people that don't know who you are, if that's even possible, I can see who is and understand why you tick the way you do.

Joe  2:40  
You're puffing me up? Well, first off, Philippe, it is my distinct pleasure to be on your show. I'm been listening to them. And I'm pretty pumped to be able to have this time with you and to be able to share a little bit about myself and kind of this journey that Qian and I've been on throughout the last year. So a little bit about myself. I work for lindbeck group, we are small to mid size general contractor based out of Houston, Texas, offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Houston. And primarily, I've had the distinct privilege of spending all the time, with lindbeck serving one client so I post up in Fort Worth, and we serve cook Children's Medical Center. And I've had the distinct pleasure of building and leading high performing field teams, and also have been blessed enough to be with a client who sees enough value in lean tools and methodologies and principles that have been willing to help lead the effort with pipe party agreements I have always and I'm currently delivering my fourth IPD project at cook children's which is like the holy grail, right like it's like the best of both you have the contracting mechanism to change behavior, you have the desire from the owner to help support the team to push lean philosophy, tools and principles into the field. So I've kind of hit the jackpot, so to speak with having the right type of client and the right type of company to fulfill my passion with lean. Specifically, being a lean leader in the field. That's really where I get engaged in really where I see somewhat of a gap that we'll get into probably later in the discussion but really where I feel the most value can be put to the rubber to the road.

Felipe Engineer  4:31  
That's awesome. And you're you are definitely in the crown jewel of what type of contract people are after these days for high collaboration with teams with being able to have an entire group from the owner all the way to design architect and people taking occupancy being in that mindset.

Joe  4:52  
Not having skin in the game and having that incentive pool to help drive behavior and to kind of get out of that naturally siloed, a naturally adversarial mindset of just throwing it over the fence. When an issue comes up in, in in transversely, now you're coming to an issue of Okay, well, what can we do? How can we come together? How can we solve this for the betterment of the team of that virtual company? Right, that's been a sinner to deliver that work. And you know, that man, it's next level and hopefully, where the future's headed across different market sectors and not just in healthcare.

Felipe Engineer  5:28  
Yeah, no, definitely we heard at this year's Congress 2020 virtual, which you've been a past chair of 2019, I got to serve you as the scrum master for your group. That was a pleasure. A year ago, 2019 was the to 2018 baby best attended Congress ever Joe, is that...

Joe  5:47  
It was that Scrum you're dropping on us, buddy.

Felipe Engineer  5:51  
Though, we broke records, I mean, Texas team, Texas showed up and made California second place finally in attendance. So it was awesome.

Joe  6:00  
It felt good. I'm not gonna lie.

Felipe Engineer  6:04  
You're gonna have that forever, man. No one could take that away from you.

Joe  6:08  
Oh, that was that was an awesome year and an awesome team and man, just thankful for that experience, just the experience to lead that high performing team and all those individuals who were on that Congress planning team and the work that LCI and Joan and all those team members did, it was one heck of an experience and one that I'll cherish for the rest of my professional career. For sure.

Felipe Engineer  6:27  
It was special. And I was glad we were on the like to close out day. And Joe and I both showed up to a meeting early. And we started talking about, you know what we're doing. And Joe is finally becoming aware that Joe had written a book because it is for those of you never been to Congress. It's a it's an intense week, where there's a lot of learning to happen. A lot of people to meet and it's just like, you know, I've got this book. And I was thinking like, yeah, I totally missed out having you signed my book while we were there. And it was me. So it's something I'll have to we'll get together in the future. And I'll make you autograph me. At least this one for me.

Joe  7:04  
You got it, buddy. Absolutely.

Felipe Engineer  7:07  
Absolutely. Though that little conversation, we had Joe, we start talking about, you know, what do we want to do in the industry. And that's where I think you and I really jelled our friendship, even though we'd been on so many calls, it was that it was that quiet. Finally, one on one time with you. We're like, we both want the same thing in the industry. And I really love the stuff you're doing with the lien builder, the website, the blog, I was telling Joe, those of you who don't know, like, we do actually talk on the phone every now and then even now. And I said, I send people for my company to the lean builder sometimes to pick up nuggets that had been published there guys have some really good stuff and contributors to your site. So thank you for making my job easier. Joe, making my job easier, man.

Joe  7:55  
I love it. I love it. No. And that resonates with me too. I'm glad we got to share that moment and really get the level set with one another because I think we are at the end of the day, we just, we will both want to leave this industry better than it is in Brighton to be in Frank. I mean, the current state of our industry is broken. And if we can rise the water and have everyone's boat craze. That's the legacy I want to live and I want to create help move the needle at the end of the day as much as much as I can to leave a positive lasting impact on the industry and those individuals that I got to come across.

Felipe Engineer  8:31  
Yeah, you're definitely doing that and the comments and feedback that you get on the stuff that gets published on social media and the response. I'm sure that book response has been phenomenal and the presentations that you and Keon do. Qian Zandi is the co author of that with Joe and you guys are obviously have a long friendship, it shows and I really like the message of how like, it's for us to do it, where you are on the jobs. And I think your book is one of the first books that really comes out from the field leadership perspective.

Joe  9:00  
I mean, let me back up and I'll give you guys a little context to how that came about. Because for a while, let me back up even further, just for a second.

Felipe Engineer  9:07  
Your on our back because you need to Joe.

Joe  9:09  
So Keenan and I, our relationship started where we both worked for lindbeck at one point in time, and that's where I got to meet Kion and Keon was really instrumental with helping to kind of take our lean operating system and standards to the next level. And then Keon had a transition in his life and his family and he moved on but we kept in touch in it was we'd have to share notes and we still have phone calls with each other because we were we were often looking for the same thing. We would have field leaders, foremen superintendents, who were bought in, like they saw value in lean, they saw that it was they didn't see lean as something that put like 20 more things on their plate. They saw it as well. Let me try something new. And this would actually take 20 things off of my plate. And they'd be asking us like, what's next? Or like, Where can I go or what's some good resources and at the time, you know, we had like Paul Akers to Second lien, which is amazing book for those who haven't read it or listen to it, I recommend that or Toyota way. However, those resources aren't really tailored to construction industry field leaders in their, their, it's not as tangible, right? It's not as practical. So we'd always be constantly going to congresses looking for like that next tool, that next publication that that next vehicle that we could use to help bring our field leaders and provide them real meaningful value and content that could be packaged in a manner that they would enjoy to consume. And then packaged in a manner that gave them really clear, simple tangible takeaways to go implement, like the next week, like not like you got to go to a class and you got to learn some more like, no, take this, read it, and then go go start experimenting next week. It was funny. Like the catalyst for all this was in 2017, we were we were headed out to Anaheim. And by chance we, we've got on the same flight leaving DFW and southwest flights. So he's like, Hey, you know, let's get together. And we were talking about this. We're like, what if we created something? And as we're flying, like, I took the safety pamphlet out of the back of the plane, or key and it actually he was like, hey, what if we had like a trifold? Or like a cheat sheet right? of like, hate right? You know, daily huddle, visual communication, constraint management, and like some some tips getting in the last planner, like a little crib sheet. And would they could stick it up in their hardhat do something like so our wheels were turning Okay, well, maybe this is maybe maybe there's something to this. And we got there. And Pat lencioni was the keynote. And Pat crushed it right. He's talking about Five Dysfunctions of a team, an ideal team player. So we leave that I go read the book. And I call Qian up I'm like, Dude, it's not a pamphlet. It's a story. Like we got to do something that would be a meaningful story about a couple of characters who could drop knowledge in teach through the actions and through the, the the common waste, and just the common turmoil that lives on our projects. And that's where it was born. And from there, it took a couple of years of us to get organized, and for us to get disciplined enough to put pen to paper. But that was that was it. And that was the niche that we saw, and how can we create something that'd be meaningful and engaging for those field leaders to, to use.

Felipe Engineer  12:19  
Their book studies sprouting up all over the country, people are talking about it and getting a lot out of it. And when I was reading the book earlier this year, for the second time, I was trying to understand like is Qian Sam, or is Joseph? Sam, I can't tell. abundant combo. And I was thinking like after talking to Kiana a little bit like, I don't think Kiana is Alan. But I can't tell like I'll blended right who you are. 

Joe  12:50  
Yeah, right? No, it was really a shared experience from both of our journeys that played into those characters. And we were really intentional about it, especially within the story. You know, it's interesting to note, as you see Alan, as the older gray in the beard field leader dropping the lean knowledge on Sam. Now, that was a really intentional move, because we didn't want to isolate a lot of those senior field leaders that are in our industry today. Because unfortunately, what made a superintendent really good 20 years ago, 30 years ago, unfortunately, it's not the same skill set, right. It's like not the same tools that you need in your toolbox today. And it's not to their fault. But the game's changed, like the entire industry has changed from our design team members in what they're up against, and the quality of documents that they have to produce because of, you know, the issues that they're managing of resource allocation, monetary issues, speed, the market dependence on technology, you have skilled labor, all the issues that we have in skilled labor in our issue and vocation being removed, and just the stigma that working with your hands, and having a blue collar profession isn't successful. And the message that we're portraying in our education system, we have five generations in the construction industry today. Like that blows my mind, think about the scale of the individuals that are in our industry today. And communication styles are different, like it's not uncommon amigo. This it's not uncommon to see someone in their 30s as an executive or, you know, an operations officer within their company. They have 50 and 60 year old senior leaders reporting to them and those communication styles totally different. Totally different, right? I mean, I mean, they, they just their oil and water and a lot of times and historically our industry hasn't had the focus on communication like why should they 30 years ago, I mean, drawings, I mean, not throwing stones to my design team partners because I know what they're up against, but drawings I would make an argument might have been more fun. efficient, I guess would be the best way to say they had more time, money people to put into vetting out those details and making it a truly coordinated set of documents, you had tons of skilled labor, you had more labor to go around, you had trade partners that generally showed up more prepared with a plan on a project because they weren't managing this labor shortage and not having time to plan out and do their work and, you know, communication styles. 2030 years ago, were definitely more hierarchical, right, you had an owner of a company was probably 60s, senior leaders 5040. So like it was it was much more structured, and there wasn't a dependence to rely on communication the way we do. And the battle is lost in one between the job trailer and the man or woman on the wall, putting the work in. And that's really where I think the industry is broken right now. And that's what I tried to explain to those field leaders and those superintendents that it's not you, it's not you that it's done anything wrong, right, but the game's changed, and lean is going to be the best tool that you have to combat that gap. And to make your job successful.

Felipe Engineer  16:05  
Right on man. That's why that's why you're here, because you're out there. Recognizing the problem. You know, a lot of people I talked to Joe, that are having success of any kind, they don't even realize all those things you just mentioned, they're not thinking about it because in in their silo and their specialty in their niche, and not have that problem, because they can just do work. And then you know, hand it off, or toss it over the wall or over the fence. And so many people in the industry when they're surveyed have no idea how bad it is. I was talking to some mechanical estimators. Yesterday, I put up the productivity chart for construction. And I said, Oh, yeah, your great grandfather's had better productivity in the 1960s than we do today in 2020. And I said, and the the trend over the last five years is it's actually worse. And it's not because the people aren't as strong or as smart or as skilled. It has to do with the systems we have in play that we just go to work in and don't even think about strikers work because we're in it wasn't like, you know what, I read this, this was like, just so fresh, again, like to just remind me, I did spend some time when I used to work for Turner construction as a superintendent on one project. And I was thinking, reading the book, like, where was my Ellen? Like, man, I could have benefited so much I can't remember, I could tell you stories about getting in trouble with ironworkers and having my life threatened and trying to shake me down for money, which I didn't have. And there's so many cool stories like I really cherish the little bit of time I had as a superintendent, could you tell people that are thinking about construction as a career, or they've got a choice, they're at a crossroads between project management or staying in the field as superintendent, what would you tell somebody that's that 10 years ago, Joe, knowing what you know, now...

Joe  17:56  
Knowing what I know. Now, I mean, obviously, my my heart and my passion is still in the field. So I would certainly convey to that individual who's thinking about maybe it's the project manager track versus Superintendent track to me, I was always fulfilled in the field, because I felt like I walked away at the end of the day with something tangible, like I physically made a difference on the product, I could walk away and see that, hey, we hung some steel today. And I helped coordinate in sequence with that trade partner that delivery, the phasing plan where the truck came in, it was very rewarding to me. And, and in conjunction with that, the battle is won or lost in the field. And that's where you have the greatest opportunity to impact your job either for the, for the benefit, or for the detriment of the project. And I was, was always invigorated by that somewhat risk, right? You have those risks that you have to mitigate and to manage, but it was that excitement, that always, you know, when I got out of bed and my feet hit the ground, I was excited to go and I into this day, I'm excited to go into work, especially in the days that I get to spend out in the field. And that is what I would probably try to plant the seed and that individual who's thinking about field or office to me, those were the benefits and that was the drivers of my engagement of while I love the field mean to each his own. Certainly there's some very fulfilling and meaningful work. On the project manager side, you got to have those team leaders in place who are just crushing it on their end of the fence, but my heart and soul is always going to be on the field for those reasons.

Felipe Engineer  19:32  
Oh man, that's awesome. Thank you. Yeah, we need to encourage a partner with AGC California to encourage people to consider the trains and you know, and here I am with like two degrees and advanced degree and I'm, I'm encouraging trades people or people thinking about it because I know the value. There was times when I was in college Joe where I was knocking on IBEW door and I was ready to you know, get my my pliers to become an electrician. Multiple times. Yeah, and it wasn't, because I didn't think you know that it wasn't good or honorable to do that. I just had, I ran my mouth too much. And I knew that that wouldn't be good for me to go to school.

Joe  20:15  
You're hitting on something, though, because you know, our industry isn't appealing, it isn't sexy, so to speak for that next generation right now. And that's really the work that we, as leaders in this industry have to overcome to make it appealing again, you know, Kion, it's funny, a lot of times, we'll be in a meeting or a presentation with a team. And he shares a story like a, I guess, a couple years ago, and he's at his his kids school doing like parent day. And they're talking about what kids want to do when they grow up in like, the vast majority of the of the kids, and I think he was like, first second grade want to be YouTube influencers? Like, like, that's the going thing, like, they want to be a YouTuber up? Yeah, look at my own kids. And like, that's what they're all pumped up about and excited about. But the point is marketers, Joe, there's so much opportunity out there, if I'm being like, blunt and honest, I'm not sure if I want my kids to enter the construction industry in the current state that it is, right now, it doesn't have a ton of promise, it doesn't have a ton of excitement for that individual. If we don't work to change the perception of this industry. I mean, just you hit on it earlier talking about the the production rate of our industry, and we're worse off than we were in the 1960s. I mean, every year, it just kind of keeps ticking down. And I think that's where the work is. And that's where we have to get back to reestablish that it's okay to go learn a craft and a profession, it's okay to not go have $80,000 in student debt, you don't have to have a white collar to be successful. And you can go start a great career and rewarding industry and provide an excellent quality of life. Whether that's a trade partner leader, a worker or you decide to get into the GC side, it helped to lead and to run work, we've got to change the perception of the industry, we have to make it appealing again, for the generation, if not, you know, these issues that I talked about in our current state, the industry, like skilled labor in the labor shortage is like there's no like line of labor, getting ready to just influx into our industry. And that's why we're having to rely on lean so much to bridge those gaps that we have on our projects. And unfortunately, I just don't think it's going to get any better anytime soon, until we start having some meaningful change, right on down. 

Felipe Engineer  22:34  
And we do have to get to the kids. It's like, I tell people, you know, I don't have to ever convince somebody to want to do lean, I said great ideas spread on their own. And with enthusiasm. If it's if it's real, and you're passionate about it, it'll come across, and people want to get more involved and engaged. And the same is true with the future leaders that are going to come up through the trades now or through, you know, the office side. Either way, we need to actually get people that care about what they do. And it's not just a paycheck thing, like we give so many hours, Joe, like, I mean, you volunteer outside of your day job, you're doing the lien builder, all that, given that information out there, that's just pouring out of you, because you've got so much to give and to share. And so when you know it's gonna catch, it's catchy. And there have been people that have said, I'm definitely reading your book that I see myself, as you know, and they'll name somebody in the book like, I've been that trade partner. That's been upset. I can't understand why this general contractor superintendents talking to me like this. And now that they read in your book, they're like, oh, they're under all this pressure. I had no idea. I didn't think about that, like we're under pressure to, like, that's something that should bring us together, not separate us.

Joe  23:57  
Absolutely. Absolutely. 

Felipe Engineer  23:59  
I love that in the book. And definitely, you know, if anyone hasn't picked up the book, get it. It's on Audible, too. And I've listened to it on Audible a couple times. And I'm one of those people that I got to read something a couple times to get it in. Yeah, but I did want to ask you a couple questions. Like, as you guys were putting it together? Mm hmm. Did you always think, and I heard you talking about you're on southwest and you're wanting to do like a trifold. Your book is in two parts. You got the amazing story in the beginning. And then you've got the crib notes in the back. The playbook. The playbook to the playbook. Was that like going into it you're gonna get there to did it evolve after?

Joe  24:42  
It kind of evolved after because we got done. As we were kind of right. We weren't even complete with the book. But we got to the end and we started to think about our audience, maybe a fault on my own. But sometimes like once I get through reading a book like I've always said like, Man, I wish there was like something in the back of the book. That was like five pages that just highlighted all the main points, I didn't have to like, go back and try to find my notes or my highlights. And John's like, that's it, man, he's like, we need a cliff notes of all the content that's in the book, just slam it in the back. So even if a trade partner or a GC Superintendent picks up the book, obviously, we want them to read the story, because we felt like it was engaging in something that a trade leader would resonate with the man, let's give them some value at the end. And they could literally take, you know, wipe over 250 pages and just go straight for the 15 pages in the back that puts the rubber to the road, and give them a playbook and give them something that they could actually take with their team, print out on paper, put it up in the board, if they start doing a daily huddle. You know, hey, here's the seven tips to having a successful daily huddle, you know, keep it short, stand up, no phones, like, you know, give them the information that they need to be successful. And that's really how that that all came about. We wanted to have a useful, quick reference resource at the at the back of the book, and we've had a lot of great feedback like, Hey, man, you know, the, the playbook was awesome. And actually, the most feedback we get is, hey, you need more visuals, like, you know, show us your boards like we need we need some we need some, you know, two week look ahead or three week look ahead boards, or what's your constraint board look like? So I think that that's probably the next iteration of trying to help with the blog.

Felipe Engineer  26:25  
It's all there, man. Absolutely. All those examples around the blog, like so we got a plug the blog, I'll put in the show notes, Joe, links to the blog links to the book. Because it's gold. I've been there myself, I've looked at your the blog many times and looking at different visuals. I've even commented on some of the last planner things you've had some guest contributors on. And it's just like, this is exactly, it's kind of funny, because you grew up in a building in Texas. I grew up in Chicago building for there half my career, and then the other half of California in the last five years, all over the US and and we got to the same place in our last planner system. Exactly. Like you're one of the few people that I that I talked to, that consistently has success with it. And when I read your playbook, I was like, oh, Joe's got standards like me, we have standards. And I try to have standards. And it makes such a big difference. So when we know a lot of people, Joe, in the industry that that say they're doing pool planning and don't get the results, what kind of results do you get from pool planning? Just because I wanted to get we haven't done a good job marketing. So the only reason why I'm asking you, Joe, yeah, so that we can tell somebody who's a superintendent or project manager or a project exec that's on the fence? Should we do pull planning? Or should we rely on traditional scheduling? What's your advice?

Joe  27:52  
One reason alone, I'll just stick with one. And it's you're getting out of the mindset and delivery of a schedule that was made in a freakin silo, by a senior superintendent, or a home office scheduler or project executive. And that schedule, oftentimes really not even being looked at again, until obviously, the project gets contracted. And sometimes it still finds its way down into buyout. And then it may even go past that. And you actually have a superintendent pushing that schedule on top of trades. And the biggest value for me and last planner system is getting a trade getting a group of trade partners into a room level setting with them. And saying, Okay, this is the team, this is it, we're all looking at each other. How do we want to build this job? I have an idea. And I'll share my ideas with you guys. But it's not set in stone? Where do you guys find value? What do you guys need to be successful. And what that is setting the stage for is you will have trade partners who are bought in who are engaged and who validate this schedule that ends up coming out. So when you are when you are running the work. And if you're I'm assuming you're implementing last planner system holistically, you know, you're at that Weekly Work Plan level, you have a trade partner who is willing to go above and beyond to make sure that milestones reached because they had a voice. They had skin in the game with how the schedule was created. And your the engagement level that you're going to get that alone that one principle alone to me is everything because now when it comes time to have the tough talk about working on a weekend, I mean, I'll be honest with you, nine times out of 10 fleet, I don't even have to go have the tough talk about guys. We got to work on Saturday this week, because oftentimes the guys will move heaven and earth to not have to work on Saturday. If they do they realize well, that was the commitment. That's the commitment I made to the team. And I'm going to make sure that that gets handled high reliability.

Felipe Engineer  29:54  
Absolutely. People buy. Yeah, no thank you, Joe. Yeah. And people if you're out there, you don't need to figure it out on your own. You can get the playbook and Joe's got it's solid gold, like I put my stamp of approval on that playbook.

Joe  30:13  
I appreciate that. You know, last year it was really getting the book completed and road initiative has been all about the blog, you know, and the blog has served the purpose of we really want to create a community of field leaders of lean practitioners. And I give them a platform to share their best practices to share their lessons learn. Qian and I are often you know, writing a lot of the content, just like last night, I had stay up late to go ahead and make sure we had a blog teed up for for next week. But we we love capturing those stories in those journeys of those lean field leaders and practitioners within our industry. So encourage you guys, if you have a great tip or a great story, we want to showcase it, we want to highlight it on the blog, because that's the intent is to create a platform for a community of field focused field centric lean leaders to be able to share best practice we can again, raise that water and have everyone's bill rise.

Felipe Engineer  31:09  
It's all making it an industry that we're proud to spend. The vast majority of our days in it was really cool to share the stage with you virtually at the lean construction blog. virtual conference earlier this year. Yeah, started off about on five s and then you and Keon came on after and we're talking about the lean builder and Timson. And you guys really brought it home. The best part for me of that whole thing, Joe, was that the three of us got to share in the q&a.

Joe  31:38  
I was Yeah, it was so much fun. I know it was well cuz you're not used to facilitating a q&a with you know, another speaker, you know which way we go with this? No, it was awesome. Man. That was a that was a great virtual conference. And they did a great job pulling it off as fun.

Felipe Engineer  31:55  
I love you got some you got some stuff in the works for what's coming up next work in when we first met Joe, your role has expanded greatly at your company. Can you tell people about what was the the Nexus for the cause for change to have you expand your role at lindbeck.

Joe  32:13  
Creating a role that can help provide more value not only to one of our flagship core clients, like I do daily at cook children's, but also be able to help be a resource to the other leaders within my organization and help them overcome challenges and issues that they're facing with lean implementation, specifically in the field and on the job side and help to to bridge those gaps and to be a resource to those team members. So it's provided me a highly engaging opportunity to not only lead, you know my specific teams that cooks, but to also be a better resource to those individuals in my firm, which I'm passionate about. So it's been been a great, great opportunity and thankful and blessed to work for such a progressive forward thinking company who's always looking at what's next. Like let's just not settle for the status quo, but have a spirit of curiosity and has a spirit of continuous improvement. I think that's one of the reasons why I've fallen in love with this company and love serving this company and our clients.

Felipe Engineer  33:14  
That's awesome. Yeah, they'll really I'm glad that that's working for you. And you're out there doing it didn't help and some people even helping me. Thank you, Joe. Buddy. You got it. Yeah. Now Now I know who you are in the book. You've become like the way that I read Alan's last name is Philippe. Good luck. Yeah. I mean, that's the way if you just look at it. It's how it's pronounced. I'm just saying. I can't wait to talk to him. Like what's up, Sam? That's Yeah, he's a good egg. Is he?

Joe  33:59  

Felipe Engineer  34:00  
I talked to him a few times. And he's definitely very forward thinking and the same things that you love about where you're working. He's have the same mindset. And there's no shock that you guys had some. You used to work together. So boom, our industry is small in terms of even though there are 11 million construction professionals in the United States. I always feel like we all know each other somehow. We're all very close because we go through a lot of the same things we do. It doesn't matter what state you're in, what city you're working in. There's a lot of similarities. So what's something else Joe that you want to talk about? That's been on your mind?

Joe  34:36  
I think I may take that opportunity just kind of share with the listeners that of where the lien builders headed in the future right now. Qian and I are getting teed up to kind of have our strategic planning session for 21. And again this year has been all about the blog and excited next year to expand into hopefully our own podcasts and some more multimedia yeah type of productions to help Further bridge that gap and again to further provide more resources to the men and women of the field and the men and women who need those resources. So we're excited about getting organized around how we're going to do that, and how we're going to scale that. So stay tuned.

Felipe Engineer  35:16  
There you go. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready.

Joe  35:19  
Now, tell me, I need you to drop all that knowledge on you got on me now.

Felipe Engineer  35:23  
Count on it. Anytime. Anytime, ladies and gentlemen, Joe calls me he does not go straight to voicemail. Unless I'm doing a show. That's awesome. No, it is awesome. Yeah, I just can't say anything else other than just lucky to have met you. And we did and, and get to work with you. Yeah, it's been a big plus, for me, Joe, it's always good to find, you know, other people that believe that things can be better. And then we have the power within ourselves. And then within our span of control and influence to make it a better experience. I can only imagine, you know, you're on for your fourth, integrated project delivery for your client. It cook. You know what that's like, going to work every day. It's got to be amazing.

Joe  36:15  
It is. But at the same breath, we're still learning. That's what that's what's awesome about it is we haven't just settled like, Well, you know, we did we did one we're good. Like it's no okay, well, we had a lot of great wins in the last one. But where do we fall short? And then taking that last validation study? And then Okay, let's pull it forward, let's improve upon what we did on that last project and make this one even better for all the team members above and deliver more value to the client. Cuz at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. We've got to deliver more value to the stakeholder. And yeah, sometimes I pinch myself, it's awesome coming in and being around other like minded team members that they get it and who are passionate about it and engaged by it. I love it.

Felipe Engineer  36:56  
Love it, you started doing that you dabbled in, I'm sure having that type of high performing team even before your first IPD job. Was it a gradual transition? Or was there like a? Did you have a great experience? And then went back to traditional delivery? And then when IPD? or How did you transition into that IPD overdrives.

Joe  37:14  
So the first IPD agreement that took place on campus actually took place before I joined the lindbeck team. But it was it was a gradual move up to you know cooks admin and leadership this selecting that type of delivery and contracting method, but once they tasted the fruit on the first project, all the remaining masterplan campus work to date has been delivered through IPD delivery. So a lot of those core tenants were already in place. Last planner system was being implemented target value design was being leveraged, but the contracting method was still the last piece in the last Domino the fall. So with the Rosedale office building, first IPD project on campus once that project was completed, and we started looking ahead to the next project, which was South Tower, the next big master plan project, that's when that's when it was decided, hey, this is this is it. This is where we're headed as an organization and been on it ever since of you know, that first project, even now, we've pivoted in transition to our capital project delivery, you know, the small project churn and burn each year, is now under the same type of delivery, although modified, because you have different players and smaller scale. But so owner saw so much value in what they were getting on the big projects with the big teams, that they scaled that to work for their own capital project delivery. So that's also an interesting note. Very cool. 

Felipe Engineer  38:44  
Yeah, that is cool. And I know we talked about that a lot, how much influence the owners have in setting the tone for how the projects going to go? Absolutely. And that's just a testament to the leadership at cook children's, that you saw that they had the the bravery and courage to experiment with IPD because we've all heard the stories of you know, IPD done wrong. And people lose and it just puts a bad taste in everybody's mouth. And, but it is like everything that we know, Joe, the people that you have doing it are so critical, important to the success. Absolutely. Kudos to leadership. If you're out there on a team right now. And you're listening to this show or watching the video. We encourage you to experiment small to start, get that taste, get that flavor, go visit a job IPD teams are like wide open for people to come and learn and see. I mean, we even saw that in your book where you had Sam's inviting Alan to come to his job.

Joe  39:42  
Over to the job. Come check it out.

Felipe Engineer  39:44  
And then likewise, when Alan's like, come sit on this because you don't know what this is. And just to see see it happening. I remember we had a director go into a job that had been using last planner system for three years, and he sat down to lunch. Typical sub meeting and he just he said it was like magic seeing the trades get up and talk to each other and the superintendent, you know, involved but not pushing anything. And then the schedule, like, they went from a blank wall to a three or four week look ahead, like, almost like that, like magic that everyone was bought in. 

Joe  40:21  
And everyone agreed to the sequence and everyone agreed to the flow. Yeah, it's magic stuff.

Felipe Engineer  40:26  
It's magic. And the job just the owner loves the work that they do, and all these positive side effects of just creating an environment where people can be engaged. That's the real magic. Like I just tell people like, all the the hard and fast rules of poll planning is having five conversations. It's not this other stuff that you know, people are overcomplicate it, just so many things that we still have left to talk about. We need more time, Joe. I'm so do, I'm only disappointed that we don't have more time that could hold you hostage longer. 

Joe  41:03  
But I do look at this again, we're gonna do this again. 

Felipe Engineer  41:06  
Yeah, you're gonna have to come back and we can even if Keanu is good, we can let him join us to go. He's next. But I do want to ask you a couple more questions. When you know, people are reading the book. And they're thinking about Sam in particular, the story for me is just so powerful, because it's just resonates on so many levels. You know, have you met people? And without, you know, putting anybody on blast? Can you share a story of, you know, having somebody go from skeptical? To engaged?

Joe  41:39  
Heck, yeah, man, I can get 100 of them. Especially when I'm, you know, when I have a skeptic, whether it's within my own firm, or if I'm at a presentation or a workshop, and I'm talking to someone, I often have to level set with them, because they're looking at me, and they're thinking, hold up timeout. I've worked for my company for 25 years, I've never missed a CEO date. I've made my company a boatload of money. My client loves me, why the heck should I listen to anything you're talking about? Why should I change the way that I run work in the field, then oftentimes, I'll take them. Remember, earlier in the conversation, they were kind of talking about the current state of the industry, they're like, okay, design drawings aren't the same as what they used to be 30 years ago, we got skilled labor issues. We have labor shortages, in general, you got five generations, in the workforce, you have trade partners who are managing this labor shortage, skilled labor shortage. So oftentimes, they're being spread too thin, they show up to the projects, oftentimes, the GC is the one printing the documents off for the trade partners. And again, it's not a knock, but they just don't have the time. You have all these different communication styles now? And is it to me, I kind of start there, and I'm like, our industry is broken. What made you successful 25 years ago, isn't going to continue to make you successful, then I then I talked to Mike When's the last time you just work? 50 hours. 6070 like you live here? Is it not seem harder and harder and harder each and every year? To push pull and drag these projects across the finish line? I know you're gonna do it, you're gonna kill yourself doing it? Because that's the type of leader and this type of Superintendent you are. But is it not harder and harder enough, burned out? Are you not like tired of beating your head against the wall. And generally, when I can level set with someone, and we can agree that the game's change, the industry is broken, the industry needs to improve. And I recognize that we can at least find common ground on where we all stand. That's when I can get the door cracked normally just enough to be able to start because oftentimes they look at it like great. Now you Okay, I got five more things to do. Now, this is great. And then explaining to them No, no, no, no, no, yeah, you might have to try something a little different, or you might be doing something different. But by doing this, you're going to take 20 things off your plate, you're going to have capacity in your phone's not going to constantly ring like a frickin fire drill all day. And you're going to be able to rise and you're going to be able to see what's happening, you're going to be able to see those constraints three weeks out before they hit you in the face in the weekly work plan and you're going to be able to lead your job the way it needs to be led in the way that your trade partners are held needing you to be reliable and to lead that project. And that's probably where I can get the seed planted in from there just takes a little love and a little watering to kind of keep nurturing that alone.

Felipe Engineer  44:42  
Yeah, I love that. plant the seed water it talked to it, love it. Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you, Joe. That's a good one. It is not. It's not something extra. We have to do. 

Joe  44:55  
You know the ideas, the principles, the tools of Lean really easy, right? I mean, a lot of it's common sense, like, Oh, yeah, I should have a material delivery board we should be talking about when things are shipping up to the site. Right? Right. But they're hard to implement, because they revolve around people. People are in the equation. And people are oftentimes that the hardest gap to bridge so just often encourage people start small. And we talked about it in the book, start if you're interested in starting a Lean journey, or improving the one that you're on, start small, you hit on it earlier, take baby steps, learn a little and continue to move. If you dive straight in the last planner system, and you don't have a culture of trust, accountability, mutual respect established on your job site, you're gonna fail, you're gonna get a bad taste in your mouth. You're gonna say that crap doesn't work. I've tried it already. Well, did you start the right way? Did you start with the people? and not the tools? Did you establish a jobsite culture where people respected each other and trusted each other and held each other honestly accountable with one another? Because if you can't do that, how the heck are you going to make a reliable commitment and a poor plan and expect the team to move heaven and earth to meet it? Right? So that's my, I guess my last two cents is just start small, be patient with yourself and be patient with your team in use the soft squishy stuff, you know what I mean? Like you got to have a self awareness. You have to know what are the motivators and D motivators of your team, so that you can be a good leader, because if you're not spending time and focusing on that, you're not going to make it.

Felipe Engineer  46:30  
Yeah, and I can imagine the you taking that approach your relationship with your trade leaders, is got to be night and day different as what it was when you first got into the business couple decades ago.

Joe  46:41  
Oh, absolutely. I mean, man, I'll pull back the curtain. Be honest, I didn't value I called him. So I mean, even just the way in which column trade partners versus subcontractors I had no respect for our subcontractors. I would make a schedule, I'd walk into that weekly subcontractor meeting, I'd throw the schedule down on the table and never failed man eyes were glazing over guys would be disengaged 15 minutes in because I wasn't allowing them a voice and I wasn't allowing them to use their knowledge. I mean, they're the subject matter experts, right? They know how to build their particular craft better than anyone else. So why in the world? Would I think that I know how to do their job better than them? And why wouldn't I just try to harness that information, and that knowledge and leverage that information knowledge to make the overall project success better? So absolutely full 180 from where I entered into this industry, of how I view and respect our valuable trade partner resources and those teams, because, man, those guys are way smarter than I'll ever be. When it comes to putting work into place. 

Felipe Engineer  47:48  
Joe, I got on that same vein. When I was young, I was lucky. I was still probably like 25, the superintendent I was working on. It was a small little project. We didn't have enough people's like him, and I run on this job. And he, he sat me down and said, I came up in the trades. These are real people. He's like, this is like our first meeting, we didn't really know each other, we're getting to know each other. And he's telling me all these personal things about, you know what it's like, he's like, this guy that's working here. That's the dad. That's his son. He's like, that's the brother is like, it's a family. And we're all connected. And he said, so when we talk to people, he's like, you're gonna notice that I asked people to do things. I don't tell people. Yeah, he just had this like, super different approach. I mean, it was nine days where I just was.

Joe  48:42  
And he doesn't call them by their company name. Or by Sparky, you're never done. And he didn't look at him like a commodity.

Felipe Engineer  48:50  
Nope. Everybody was a person. Everybody was by first name. And you everybody in you, their family. He worked with their grandfather's. I mean, it was incredible. And I and the cool thing about working with him is that I was doing contracting at the time for buying out the job. We were getting better numbers, because he was the superintendent. Hmm. People knew, like companies do like, Oh, this guy, he treats our people. Well, here's a discount. We'd love to work with you.

Joe  49:23  
Absolutely. It was because he knows that as a superintendent, he's gonna create a reliable workflow that they can make money on.

Felipe Engineer  49:32  
The job was beautiful, was one of my most proud jobs to be a part of.

Joe  49:38  
So he sees if you want to know who your top performing superintendents are, talk to your trades. Take a survey. That's right. So all I do, talk to your trade partner leaders. They're not gonna lie to you. They're gonna be straight up honest.

Felipe Engineer  49:52  
Yeah. All right. Well, Joe, thank you so much. I know you got to run. I really superduper appreciate you coming on. This has been valuable. For me, I picked up some gems and nuggets that I'm going to take forward starting today. And it is zero dark 30. So I definitely have a full workday opportunity to put it to play.

Joe  50:11  
Well Feli[e again, my my honor my privilege. It's a blessing to have this relationship with you. I'm thankful for it and thankful for the opportunity to be on the show and I look forward to being back on soon. 

Felipe Engineer  50:24  
Yes, you will. Have a great day, Joe. Crush it! 

Joe  50:29  
I will.

Felipe Engineer  50:32  
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!


Joe DonarumoProfile Photo

Joe Donarumo

I serve Linbeck as Senior Superintendent in Fort Worth where I have been able to develop and lead high-performing field teams in our Healthcare market sector. I also serve Linbeck as Director of Lean Application, ensuring that Linbeck's Lean processes are continuously improved and consistently practiced. I have a unique passion for Lean implementation, continuous improvement, and ruthless pursuit of waste elimination within my projects, teams, and our overall organization.

I am also the Co-Author to The Lean Builder, a business fable written for field leaders and last planners to help them begin their Lean journey with respect to Lean implementation at the field level.