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Changing process for a changing AEC Industry

By Vance Breshears

A few weeks ago, we invited Dick Bayer–Executive Director Emeritus at Lean Construction Institute to talk with our team about Lean process.

He started the conversation by talking about visibility and transparency.  That the goal of Lean is to make work better and to do work that releases work.

The only way to do that is to break down the silos–to have everyone in a room together from the beginning and empower them to work together.

This is a personal passion for me. For most people on design teams, there is no value in gathering information in reports and passing them from discipline to discipline. While reports can be useful to document decisions, the real work actually happens around the design table. And the more skill you can bring to that table, the better the end result. This isn’t design-by-committee. This is having each of the people with a certain skillset there to share their ideas together–clients, architects, engineers and contractors.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve had the opportunity to change the way our team works with clients. A method we term “design workshops” in house.  The idea is to pull all of the people together to get the major decisions made on the design in real-time. Each time we take clients and contractors through the process, they are thrilled with how quickly the process moves and how much ownership they have over the decisions they make.

The dominant theme for the change in our industry–while framed with industry ideas like Lean and IPD–has to do with transparency. How much of the process happens in view of the others on the team? This idea of transparency is reflected in the ways that we work and even in the design of our offices.

I am energized by the changes that are happening.  And even more energized to be part of them.

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