Project management LEAN process

Toyota’s LEAN process provides a blueprint for successful project management

Toyota’s LEAN process provides a blueprint for successful project management

Project management LEAN process

Designing the process is the most valuable driver of the project

A few years ago, I learned about The Toyota Way, the codified methodology employed by one of the world’s leading car manufacturers. This entailed speeding their process, building quality into systems, eliminating costs associated with waste and sustaining a cultural mindset for continuous improvement.  When amplified to consider the complete value stream, this process is referred to as LEAN - the “secret sauce” that maintains Toyota’s speed to market and exemplary profit margins.

Doing things right

Successful project management has been defined traditionally as doing two things right: delivering on time and staying on budget. However, today’s design and construction market require project managers to execute transformative ideas with the same kind of expediency and exactness in order to help clients achieve a competitive advantage.

LEAN - Process

The healthcare construction industry has well-established organizational, operational and contractual structures for implementing LEAN. These initiatives focus on removing non-value-add steps, facilitating flow and working to establish a cadence that matches production to need in order to minimize delay and waste. When considering a design/construction project work plan, LEAN manifests itself in a few ways. It focuses on continuous improvement: defining value, inviting the right expertise at formative stages, guiding the process for making well-informed decisions, working efficiently as a team, and executing in the field. No project is too large or small to benefit from the rigor of and clarity of purpose that LEAN offers.

LEAN - Design

At WRNS Studio, we continually seek ways to practice the key principles of LEAN in service of design that delivers on economic, social, and environmental performance goals. Research is integral to our launch—we engage in critical inquiry, disciplining ourselves to avoid presuming we have the right answers (just better questions), and learning from previous projects. In the world of expediency and exactness, design explorations may be perceived as antithetical to traditional project success metrics. Therefore, designing a process in which this exploration is tied to value—especially when transformative work is expected—is perhaps our most important responsibility.

LEAN - Practice

Dynamic calendar of time and resources implementing the LEAN process.
Lilian Asperin, Partner & Architect at WRNS Studio, using a dynamic calendar of time and resources implementing the LEAN process.

 

The key to realizing successful LEAN delivery is an engaged and collaborative team.

Dynamic Calendar - Develop a visual map of time and resources – keep it analog! Identify key deliverables and engage with the entire team to arrive at (and commit to) a sequence or flow for the work. Carve out time to iterate and space to think.

 

Gathering, Synthesis and Reporting - Structure efforts with three distinct parts, all of which build upon each other. Share progress with your extended team to build accountability regarding inclusivity with stakeholders and fidelity to decisions made so that the next steps can then follow.

Doing the right things

It’s exciting to think about evolving the concept of project management to one of process leadership. As we move forward in our delivery of projects that realize the highest value and efficiency, it is important to define value holistically.  Assembling teams comprised of talent across disciplines, encouraging staff to enjoy fulfilling lives via flexible schedules (which we can build into the dynamic calendar), and evolving criteria for project success and methodology are imperatives!

We'd love to hear if and how you've applied the LEAN process and principles in successfully managing your projects. Share your experience in the comments.

 

Guest blog by Lilian Asperin, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C Partner at WRNS Studio, San Francisco


How To Encourage Cross-Generation Collaboration At Work

How To Encourage Cross-Generation Collaboration At Work

Stand-up meeting bars, pops of color, and informal seating characterize the many collaborative meeting spaces; the light-filled main “promenade” of the office; and a fun garage door connects the cafe-lounge with the design studio.
        Delta Dental, Seattle. Photo credit: Sean Airhart, courtesy of NBBJ

Meet the needs of all 5 generations using our handy guide

Familiarizing yourself with what different generations of employees need at work is a great place to start if you’re seeking to improve employee collaboration. But what actionable steps can you take to create workplaces that set every employee up for success?

We’ve outlined four ideas you can use to plan and design spaces that bring diverse groups of workers together.

Create opportunities for spontaneous collaboration

community hub collaborative spaces

Café-style areas allow for warm community settings that accommodate a wide variety of purposes and create an opportunity to connect for everyone. Kitchen at HGA’s San Jose Office. Photo credit: Corey Gaffer Photography

 

Most offices have a micro-kitchen or office cafe where folks naturally socialize. However, more facilities are designing spaces specifically for spontaneous interaction, often called in-house social hubs. Think attractive, well-lit break rooms that are easily accessible for several teams and benches in hallways where employees can sit and chat. These spaces are for “accidental collision,” where unplanned dialogues lead to new, creative ideas. Consider providing snacks or beverages in these locations to encourage people to linger.

Design cross-functional spaces

Cross-functional space at LendingHome San Francisco headquarters designed by Studio Blitz. The space serves as a presentation area and work-cafe. Photo credit: Adam Rouse Photography

 

The trend of nesting coworking spaces inside your office space is one approach to creating cross-functional spaces where different people can meet. Also known as innovation hubs, they double as showcase rooms. Inviting freelancers and other innovators into your space is one way to infuse your employees with a fresh perspective and expose them to diverse ideas. If you aren’t able to build a dedicated co-working space, consider setting up regular events for the community, like a meetup geared towards designers or a happy hour for product managers.

Add connectivity options

HLW designed an outdoor courtyard space. Photo credit: Kim Rodgers Photography

Make sure that all new public spaces you design include wifi and easy power access. Power and connectivity must be ubiquitous throughout your facility or office to promote productivity and collaboration. This is especially critical for outdoor spaces, which need to be fully fitted with the right utilities if you want employees to utilize them. Adding outlets along hallways and in other places employees might spontaneously choose to work is another way to encourage random interactions.

Include areas for focused work

 

The Bridge Group's client, Redbubble, San Francisco

A recent survey by Gensler revealed that while employees value collaboration, they also need more private, enclosed spaces. Many companies offer areas like phone booths, huddle rooms, private hubs and semi-private booths. Offices are increasingly desiring communal libraries where employees can go when they need time to focus alone are. Make sure your office offers these spaces so your workers have the opportunity to recharge when they need to.

Designing workspaces where diverse groups of employees can socialize doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Many employees genuinely want to build a relationship with their coworkers, which can quickly lead to the birth of new, innovative ideas. By providing them with spaces for socializing and collaboration, you can foster an enduring workplace community.

Ready to bridge the communication gap between the employee generation gap in your office? Reach out for ideas on how we can help bring everyone together.


Designing A Multi-Generational Workplace? Here's what you need to know

Designing a multi-generational workplace? Here's What You Need To Know

Why every generation of employee needs something different at work

Employees in America today are more age diverse than ever before. Many older generations, including baby boomers and traditionalists, are staying in the workforce past the typical age of retirement. Meanwhile, the 61 million members of Gen Z are preparing to look for employment in the coming years, and, by 2025, millennials will make up the majority of the workforce.

Photo courtesy of US Department of Labor

Planning spaces that accommodate the needs of a diverse group of employees can be challenging, which is why we created this guide detailing what each generation needs from their workspace. Here are the five generations of employees in the workforce today and how you can design spaces to meet their needs and wants.

Traditionalists (1922 - 1945)

Although the youngest members of this generation turn 76 this year, a few members are still in the workforce. None of them grew up with technology, or worked with it for most of their careers, so accommodations may be needed to help them adapt. Many of them remain in senior positions in law, accounting, healthcare, and architecture and engineering, and some have taken administrative roles to keep busy after retirement.

Although this generation may not be working for much longer, their experience growing up after the great depression and World Wars has made them a loyal, hardworking asset. By making changes at the office to meet their needs as they age, they’ll return the favor by staying loyal to your organization.

Baby Boomers (1946 - 1964)

Members of this generation are usually defined as goal-oriented and independent, qualities that have propelled them into upper management positions. They tend to thrive on familiarity and routine, meaning that the changes caused by an office redesign could be disruptive for them.

They grew up in an era when everyone got their own private office (or, at the very least, a private cubicle), but usually enjoy collaborative workspaces.

Infographic courtesy of Pew Research Center

Gen X (1965 - 1980)

This generation is a mix of folks who are comfortable with technology and folks who are not— they didn’t grow up with it like many millennials did, but they have also had time in the workforce to adapt and learn.

They value the opportunity to work independently (in fact, 41% describe themselves as entrepreneurs) but also appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with generations above and below them. Creating spaces like communal kitchens is a good way to draw them out and allow them to socialize on their own terms.

Generations X also appreciates the work-life balance lifestyle so consider offering telecommuting options for this group.

Gen Y/Millennials (1981 - 1996)

Generation Y is the first generation of “digital natives,” where most members of this generation grew up with a personal computer in their home. As a result, they embrace the use of new technology in the workplace, including features that allow them to work from anywhere like power adapters and wifi in outdoor spaces.

They expect a modern workplace, and are eco-conscious and appreciate biophilic design and sustainable features in the workplace, including opportunities to recycle and compost.

Gen Z (1997 - 2012)

For many designers, Generation Z (or post-millennials) is the most unknowable generation. According to the US Labor Department, they are expected to make up at least 25% of the US workforce by 2020. The youngest members are still relatively new to the workforce, and we’re watching as they demonstrate an increased need for work-life balance and workplace wellness. Incorporate elements like in-house gyms or rock climbing areas so they have options for physical activity throughout the day, and consider integrating objects like sit-stand desks and ergonomic furniture to show you care about this generation’s need to stay well while at work.

Furthermore, members of this generation don’t remember a time before the internet — they’re true digital natives, and feel most at home in a workspace with ample technology. They want to collaborate face-to-face as well as online, so consider using team communication software like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

In addition to wanting virtual workspaces, they also desire opportunities to work more independently and tend to shy away from open office concepts. Help them feel more at home by providing break out rooms and spaces for quiet reflection.

Here's how to prepare for Gen Z which will compromise 25% of our workforce by 2020

We know how tricky it can be to accommodate the needs of a multigenerational workforce in a single, cohesive space. In our next post, we’ll share a few practical solutions you can use to create workspaces that are welcoming to employees of all ageWhat design changes have you made to meet the needs of several generations of workers at your organization? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


How To Tighten Your Workplace Security

How To Tighten Your Workplace Security

Our client, Tradeshift, takes company security seriously throughout their office and in the reception area with cameras.

Four strategies to keep your facility safe from theft

How confident are you that the security measures you have in place today will prevent your company from becoming the victim of a devastating theft?

Nobody enjoys planning for the worst case scenario. Security should be a key consideration during the planning phase of any office design or relocation project. The good news is that deterring theft doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

If your approach to workplace security so far has been remembering to lock the doors and saying a quick prayer before bed, it’s time to step up your game. Here’s four tips you can use to improve security at your business.

Place Cameras Strategically

Consider what you’re trying to capture before mounting cameras. Are you trying to catch footage of a potential suspect entering or exiting the building? Do you want to know where they go if they get inside? What about a shot of the type of vehicle they’re driving?

We recommend that clients begin by placing cameras in the following locations:

  • Entry points
  • Areas where someone may be injured
  • MDF and/or server rooms

Your local police department may be able to provide specific recommendations about the type of footage that is helpful for identifying criminals.

Secure Points of Entry

Card readers or keypads are the two top options for most business owners today; with keys, you have the expense of changing the locks every time an employee leaves. Many of our clients opt for card readers so employees don’t have the burden of remembering a code (and potentially sharing that code with outsiders). Card readers also produce a record of who entered and when so you can review in the event of an incident.

We recommend placing card readers on exterior doors, IDF rooms, and possibly storerooms, depending on what you have inside. Depending on the type of building, consider using a latch plate to prevent would-be thieves from using a crowbar to gain entry.

Use Burglar Deterrents

Since most offices are uninhabited at night, alarms are extremely useful to tip off potential thieves that their presence on your property has not gone unnoticed.  60% of burglars said they look for an alarm system before robbing a home— and if they find one, they move along to another target.

You can install alarms that are monitored by a security service, or simply use the alarm itself as a deterrent.

Review Company Protocol

When we think about theft, many of us imagine criminals dressed in black sneaking into your facility in the dead of night. But today, many thefts occur during broad daylight, perhaps when your receptionist has stepped away for lunch or many of your employees are in a meeting or attending an off-site.

If you don’t receive a lot of visitors, consider keeping your front door locked at all times and buzzing guests in as needed. If you do frequently have guests, taking turns at the reception desk is a good way to make sure there are always eyes on the door.

Finally, make sure all of your employees are aware of the possibility of theft. Help them feel comfortable coming to your security/facility team or management with any concerns, or if they see someone who doesn’t belong.

For general information by the USDA, Office of Procurement and Property Management for use in addressing security in the workplace issues, click here.

Looking to make office security a priority in 2019? Contact us for a consultation.