What are you passionate about?

I sometimes ask workshop audiences to answer that question. Answers usually include:

  • Family
  • Travel
  • Sports
  • Pets
  • Music
  • Cooking (and Eating)
  • Hunting
  • Recreation
  • Health
  • Life
  • Work

Note that “Family” is cited most often, by a very large margin, outpacing all other passions combined. What all of these passions have in common is that they serve as a way of connecting with other people and developing stronger bonds. It’s this possibility of human connection that fuels the passion and ignites a positive upward spiral that makes engaging in a situation desirable and meaningful.

What do these passions have to do with lean, and specifically lean design and construction? Lean is a human-centered approach to work. That is what the Respect for People principle means – respect for humanity and human nature. Fundamental to human nature is the desire for connection; a bond with other humans that inspires growth, vision, and purpose.

A vital workflow challenge on building projects is the collaboration between a large number of humans with varying backgrounds, skillsets, and interests. Such collaboration is difficult work, which requires the kind of energy passion can deliver. It is important to understand that passion is not kindled through the work itself. Passion begins and grows through the development of meaningful connection with other people.

People are not parts and enterprises are not machines. People are living beings and enterprises are living entities. So, if you are seeking to cultivate passion for the work in your organization or on your project, your initial focus needs to be on the quality of the relationships between people that work together. High quality relationships will yield passion, which will yield high quality work benefiting people throughout our projects, companies and communities.