Lean Mindset

As you prepare to embark on an adventure through Lean Planning, get yourself (and your team, if you have one) into a Lean Mindset. Major parts of the lean mindset are maintaining a vision, staying flexible and staying accountable.

The Lean Mindset helps you successfully execute Lean Planning

You’re the captain of the football team, and you’re getting yourself and your team ready for the championship game. You need to motivate and get your team in the right mindset for success, for hard work, for team-oriented playing, and to keep the end goal in mind – the win! This is how I want you to start your Lean planning, by getting into the Lean Mindset.
– You need to have a vision, what is your end goal? What defines successful project completion? What are you interim Milestones?
– Be flexible, be agile, be open to change. One of the great pieces of Lean Planning is identifying when something is not working, and changing it quickly, modifying the plan to achieve the ultimate goals.
– Get ready to be accountable! When something does happen, or doesn’t go quite as planned, you and your team need to be willingly accountable. This helps you know where the gaps are and how to fix them, how to allocate resources and how to be flexible as a team to tackle the tasks toward success.
– Have full buy-in from your WHOLE team. Lean Planning is like a well oiled machine, you work together, you plan together, you fail together and you succeed together. You educate your team and strive for accurate details from all parties.

We’re going to jump into that last bullet – Educate your Team.

Without educating your team, it will be very difficult to get good, let alone adequate participation. Without participation from all parties, it’s going to be hard to get any plan in place, let alone follow it. As you educate yourself and your team, make sure you not only focus on the Lean Planning principles, but on the benefits that lean planning provides. By focusing on the benefits, your team will better understand why their participating is critical, and that lean planning ultimately provides a plan of execution that historically provides less project delays at a lower project cost. How can we argue with saving time and money?! But this success can only happen when we get the most accurate data from our teams. Accurate information includes accurate dates, durations, manpower, and constraints. If something is going to hold the team back, we need to identify the constraint and solve it before it impacts the schedule. Once you educate your team… PRACTICE with them! A lean schedule isn’t a one time exercise, you review it and re-work it weekly. Each week you look at progress from the week before, adjust to fit your end goal, and work through constraints as they arise. All of these are practices you should educate your team on and practice, then implement and revise, revise, revise… until your project is complete!

Schedule your work – using all the education you’ve instilled onto your team, build out your detailed schedule. Start with your milestone schedule, pull your schedule items from completion to current date in smaller segments. Then from each milestone, or area of work, continue pulling out smaller segments to clearly define each step along the way. The longest task any item in the schedule should have is 1 week of work, wether that’s 4, 5 or 6 days depending on your work schedule. Pulling a schedule wont happen in a day, this takes time, and can be broken down into smaller sessions with key trades for the specific segment being pulled.
– Once you have your schedule started, its a live document.. It’s ALIVE! (I hope you read that like a mad scientist)
– Because it’s a live document.. it needs to be updated regularly. This is achieved through a planning session each week to document progress from the week before and add to the upcoming week, investigating the percent planned completed, causes of variance and how to make the right improvement.
– Whenever you update a team document, make sure you’re distributing it to all parties. You cant anticipate someone follow the plan if you don’t give it to them.
– Lastly, make sure you’re meeting each and every week, create your plan, adjust your plan, and look ahead (4-6 weeks) to get a clear vision of what’s coming up.

Following again on that last bullet – LOOK AHEAD!
When creating your plan, you cannot be short sighted. Make sure you have your schedule defined through to completion, but have the finite details for a 4 to 6 week period to look ahead and make sure you are clearing constraints before they impact progress. Your 1 week look ahead is planned the previous week. Plan the short term tasks, but never lose sight of how they fit into the long term schedule.

And lastly, grade yourself! Look at your percent planned completed from week to week. Any time you miss completing a task, you need to provide a reason why you missed it. Was it overcommitment, did you need an answer from another party, did you not have the correct materials…. When you plan your week, you should achieve around 70-80% of your scheduled items. This seems counterintuitive, but if you area accomplishing 100% of what you plan, you’re not challenging yourself. If you are making less than 70% you are over-committing yourself or your teams. There’s a sweet spot for weekly accomplishments to aim for. Challenge your abilities, don’t sandbag what you can do, and be flexible enough to adjust what you do from day to day and week to week to fit the needs of the schedule.

There’s SO much to learn with lean planning, and the mindset is key to initial success. Stick with me throughout May for more information, tips and tricks.

Please feel free to download the Last Planner publication for guidance to help you get started with your team. If you have questions… reach out! That’s what I’m here for.


Download the PDF from a previous project using TouchPlan software. This can easily be modified for traditional or other Pull Planning Software.

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