One of the biggest obstacles to implementing the Last Planner System® (LPS) isn’t mastering the forms, time constraints, or even knowledge; it can be the fear of looking like a beginner.
As a superintendent I initially started my use of the Last Planner System without the benefit of a coach or formal support. I had been exposed to lean during my MBA program, done some research on the LPS, attended some classroom style training, and decided that the LPS was the way I wanted to run my projects.
The project I was working on had been underway for a little over a year when we made the switch to the LPS. I can still remember standing up in front of the foreman at our regular foreman’s meeting and telling them that we were switching to a different format for our weekly meetings. We were no longer going to rely on the traditional command and control style leadership to plan and execute our work; we are now going to truly collaborate and focus on making reliable commitments to each other. Oh ya, and we would start pull planning our work, looking out 6-weeks to try and identify the things that were going to prevent us from doing our work, and meeting everyday to check in and see how our plan was working for the week. A lot of blank stares in the room and I was scared, really scared, that I looked like a fool and this was going to fail before it even got off the ground.
Fortunately, I had a great group of people on the project that also wanted to do this, and they encouraged and supported me when we hit roadblocks; and there were a lot of them. Without that support I’m not sure I would have had the initial confidence to keep it moving forward AND make improvements every week.
Continuous improvement is the key. You should be making improvements to your meeting every week and that can be scary as well. Most people are used to learning a system, getting good at it, and never changing it. The Last Planner System is all about continuous improvement; on the project, in the meetings, and in the way we do our own work.
If you are getting ready to start your lean journey and you are going to implement the Last Planner System on your project find someone to support you. Another person who has used it, a Last Planner coach, or at the very least someone who you trust that can give you the thumbs up from the back of the room when everyone else is staring at you wondering “what is this guy trying to do now?”