Lean Construction with Kevin Gausch

Lean Construction with Kevin Gausch

by Patrick Adams | Oct 4, 2022

In this episode of The Lean Solutions Podcast, Kevin Gausch and I discuss lean applied in different industries.  Specifically, the construction industry. His knowledge and stories help explain how lean can be applied outside manufacturing when practitioners truly understand the principles of continuous improvement.

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

  • How do you apply lean principles in construction?
  • Best practices and tips and tricks for lean process improvement in operations
  • The role of technology and digitization in lean process improvement.
  • The impact of technology on process effectiveness.

About the Guest: 

As a Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence through ASQ with a focus on the construction industry, Kevin has set himself apart as an expert in quality management. In the past 30 years, his experience includes Quality and Project Management in the utility contractor space and the construction industry. He’s worked hands-on across all areas, from foreman to the c-suite, and witnessed the difference that technology can make to help working teams get better every day. Skilled in managing complicated processes that involve many stakeholders, Kevin’s global team is dedicated to sharing their hands-on experience to drive success in digital transformation and ultimately raise the bar for frontline teams.s.

Important Links:



Full Episode Transcript:

Patrick Adams  00:01

Welcome to the Lean solutions podcast where we discuss business solutions to help listeners develop and implement action plans for true Lean process improvement. I am your host, Patrick Adams. Hello, everyone. And welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. Our guest today is Kevin gash as a certified manager of quality and organizational excellence through ASQ. With a focus on the construction industry, Kevin has set himself apart as an expert in quality management. In the past 30 years, his experience includes quality and project management in the construction industry. And that’s probably what I’m super excited to talk to you about today, Kevin. So welcome to the show.


Kevin Gausch  00:39

Thank you. I really appreciate you having me. I’m excited to be here.


Patrick Adams  00:42

Absolutely. I’m looking forward to just hearing from you on. Well, a couple different things. But first, I want to talk about Lean principles in construction. So you obviously have a vast amount of experience in the construction industry, specifically around applying lean principles. And it’s always interesting to me when I talk to people from different industries, obviously, outside of manufacturing, because manufacturing, it’s so easy for us to, to teach to train to see lean, and just it’s so obvious, right? But in other industries outside of manufacturing, it can be a little bit more difficult and lean tools and techniques have to be we have to be flexible with how they’re applied, especially outside of manufacturing. So what would you say? I mean, what how do you apply Lean principles in the construction industry?


Kevin Gausch  01:32

It’s interesting, you put it that way that we have to be flexible in the way they’re applied. I agree with you 100%. But they are universal. Yeah, like the principles themselves. I heard a saying once once, you know the way you see the way in all things, right. And that could be any number of of like overlays of the way that you perceive your world. And if you look at it through a lean lens, kind of once you know what Lean is, and the five principles, you can see it whether it’s in manufacturing, or service, construction, administrative, you know, processes, whatever it is, the struggle we had early on, at least as someone who was just fresh to learning concepts of lean, and at the time, I was also learning construction, it was early on in my career, was there weren’t any real good resources, or analogies out there, that would train you on lean construction principles, right? It was just, here’s the Toyota way, right? Like, here’s the books on manufacturing and lean and the principles. And we’d read them and then and now it was okay, as a group, let’s talk about what this means to us and how we can apply them. So it added that extra layer of complexity of of kind of winning hearts and minds, right. And it’s probably an ongoing battle in the construction industry, for sure, when it comes when it comes to lean. But probably what made it most tangible to me when when I tried to like go in and see it was the idea that in manufacturing, you’ve got the raw materials that go into the process throughout this difference was called stations that transform those raw materials into a product that a customer ordered that I then deliver. In construction, it’s the product sits in one spot, and the machines that build that product work around the product and transform it right. But beyond that, it’s really no different. Okay, so I could go to a construction site, and I can see an empty hole sitting there waiting to be filled with rebar and concrete. That’s ever production. Right? Why did you dig that hole? If I didn’t need that today? Right, right. And what I’ve found very interesting is that the the general format, and I’ll speak kind of specifically to to utility construction. And in this case, it was a civil example, where we had a general foreman is playing the job, and he’s really sharp. And he’s probably a lot smarter than he gives himself credit for, right when it comes to understanding lien and their principles. And so I was talking, I said, Well, we’ve got a schedule that we have to be done at a certain time. We have that we have to pace our work so that we’re done here, but that we don’t overextend ourselves or have let’s say overproduction just to wait right hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait, which is the kind of the backbone of construction. And so what are you gonna do? You said, Well, I’ve got the capacity to dig six piers a day or holes, six holes a day, okay, but, and I can fill as many as I can dig, but I can only frame three holes a day because I only have two carpenters and that’s all they can do in one day. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to dig three holes the first day, four holes the second day, and three holes This Second day, the third day and four holes the fourth day, so that I’ve always got a hole waiting for them when they get there in the morning. But I didn’t create too many so that if I need to get something in and out of the yard, I don’t have to play the holes and have people, you know, I mean, I’d have to save the house and all these other things. I was like, Okay, you get it, right. Like you get lean, you get pull and flow and overproduction and inventory is waste and all the other things that come into play when you’re trying to look for opportunities for improvement. He just never heard any of the buzzwords. Right. Right, right. And I would be willing to bet if I went to him and said, let me show you this book that cause what you did this thing, and he tried to oversize it, you probably say, well, that doesn’t work here. Right? It doesn’t apply to what we do. And I’ve heard that a million times, then I’ve seen it in action without calling it what it is,


Patrick Adams  05:47

oh, that’s that’s such a good way to put it. I love I love hearing that. Because you know, that that is the probably the biggest challenge that I hear as well as you know, because they don’t they don’t lean is basic concepts. It is like bringing things back to, you know, simplicity. And there is some, just, it’s there’s not a lot of complexity that needs to be applied when it comes to Lean principles, right. And that that is such a great example of someone that just gets it. And they didn’t have to be, they didn’t have to go through some extensive training to understand that when they came in, in the morning, they were sitting around waiting for a hole to be dug. Well, let’s just have one ready for you, you know, by doing one extra hole the day before, right? I mean, just very basic, simple principles. I love that story. What are some of the other challenges that you that you came across, you know, in the construction industry that you would say Lean principles have been able to be applied to?


Kevin Gausch  06:47

So as far as challenges that it solves, right, I think from a planning standpoint, we there’s there’s a methodology in construction called last planar system. And then last planar system essentially, takes Lean principles. And in a, in a organized, intentional way, applies them to the planning process of a construction project. And the idea really is it’s, it’s the planning that you’re working the reliability of your plan that you’re striving to, to improve, okay, and the kind of the theory behind it is, if my plan becomes more reliable, right, my outcome of my project becomes predictable. And so I can say that, while studies show about 50% of all plans actually are achieved on a construction project in any given week. Okay, so traditional planning, you get about a coin flip, right? So if you were my customer, and you said, What’s the odds that you’re actually going to do what you’re telling you’re going to do this week? I’d say flip, flip a coin. Right? And I maybe I’m right, maybe I’m not. And we’ll find out at the end of the week. And so with last planar system, the production system is the is the planning process, we say, Okay, we have milestones that are that are contract driven. So I’m going to put a flag in the ground, three months out, and I’m going to have a definition of complete for that milestone, okay. And I’m going to backup from there. And I’m hopefully going to do this to where when I’m done backing up. It doesn’t go past where I am today. Right? I have some I have some runway still left when I’m done backing up. But I’m going to backup from there and a create a plan that shows the sequence and duration of all the tasks that have to occur in order for me to hit that milestone. And if I’m, if I’m, if I’ve given myself enough time, there’s there’s some flux in that planner, PM, we’ll call it you know, float, right, I’ve got some float. And then I’m going to do and that’s where like a backwards pass in project management. And then in very small increments, I’m going to manage that, that six to eight week plan, okay, and I’m going to do it in much greater detail than just sequencing duration, I’m going to get down to tell me what you’re going to do this week. Okay. Make, and you get into a lot of human dynamics. So if you’re the foreman, and I’m the general foreman, and I say you, Patrick, how much you’re going to get done this week in production. And let’s say you’re the, you’re the excavator. So I’m going to excavate 300 I’m gonna have to be 3000 linear feet. Okay. The difference between traditional project management and this Lean project management approach, is you told me what you’re capable of doing. I’m not telling you what you have to do. Right. So there’s a, there’s a, you own that number. I don’t know that. Because one of the schedule says you have to do 6000 linearly. Does that make it possible for you to do 6000 Right now? Right, right. Oh, Add. Or if I say you have to do 2000, linear feet, whatever square feet, you’ll pace your production to that 2000, even though you have the capacity to do more. So the idea here is, let’s link all of the different pieces of production so that there’s no long gaps in between, and that no one gets too far out. So you have work sitting, right, so inventory flow pull, like all those things start to manifest respect for people, because now I’m asking you, instead of telling you what, what’s got to get done, and if your numbers way off, we’ll negotiate. Right, we’ll have a conversation about what we have to do.


Patrick Adams  10:37

Sure. Yeah, it makes me think about two different things. Actually, one, one, it makes me think about hour by hour charts, you know, when, if we do talk about the manufacturing world, right? You think about hour by hour charts. And for some organizations that I go into, I see these targets for every hour of what they, what they’re, you know, what they’re they’ve asked their employees to try to hit these numbers and ask them, Where did you get that target number from? And I’ve had companies tell me, Well, you know, we actually reset that every day based on what the orders are, that are in the system. And I’m like, well, so you’re telling me that, you know this, because you have X number of orders, you’ve you’re you’re giving them a goal for each hour? What if, what if it’s not? What if the machine isn’t capable? What if the operator it, you know, isn’t capable of getting that number out? And they’re like, well, then they’re just behind? Well, that’s got to be pretty, pretty, you know, tough on the employee who’s, you know, has to write a red number on every single hour, because they can’t, even though they’re working their butt off, but they can’t hit the numbers, because they’re not capable. I mean, that’s, that doesn’t make any sense. So, you know, hour by hour numbers should be based on, you know, time studies of what’s actually been demonstrated, you know, with with the least amount of waste possible, right, obviously, and, you know, so we use those 10 cycle and try to get an actual demonstrated target goal. So that, then we know, okay, now when it’s written in red, it’s because something happened, that, you know, cause the something in the system, the process, something happened that caused you not to be able to hit your numbers. So that’s what we write over here. So it just makes me think about that, like, we would never, you would never give someone a goal of you know, whatever those numbers that you said that that you know, because they’re not even capable of that. Right. The other thing that it made me think about is, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Menlo innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan is one of my favorite places to visit. But they do a project, they have a project management game that they do with their clients, where they have the clients actually, the help determine how much work that they want to be scheduled into the week. And then they by the client can see only what the project management team is capable of. And then each card is actually broken, broken down into how many hours each card is, and they play those cards, you know, so that the client is never asking for more than what the company is capable of doing. Right? It’s a pretty interesting game.


Kevin Gausch  13:12

If he does, yeah, that the first thing you described is kind of the last piece of the last planner system where we’re, let’s say, at the beginning of every week, when we make our commitments, we also look back to see what happened last week, you know, let’s say you committed to x, and you got x with a delta, right? Well, why you asked why right to do five, why? And well, the the whatever broke, this thing broke. Okay, cool. Let’s figure out why broke, let’s put a process in place that prevents that from breaking. Or if we can’t, we’ve got a plan B that we can, you know, have as little downtime as possible if it breaks, so that next time we make our commitments, that reason for variance has been eliminated. And what you see over time is you track your percentages of commitments that are met from week to week. And if you get good, you’ll see it go from a 50% up to incrementally up and down, but trending up to about 85%. And what we tend to say is, if you get over 85%, you’re baking waste into your commitment. And you shouldn’t like people then because it becomes a numbers game, right? People think well, the goal is 100%, I got hit by 100%. So I’m going to bake downtime and waste and breakdowns into my commitment so that I can hit that 100% And maybe even exceed it. And we actually call them out for that. So that’s a that’s a bad thing. If you hit over 85% You’re saying you’re sandbagging, right. And I’ve seen this now in my in my current role with my new company where someone let’s say they’re doing an inspection and they turned the scoring off on their inspection. Right because people didn’t want to get a bad score. And they’re gonna say you’re crazy. That means you want to hide your problems, right? Like that score is gold you want you want as lowest scores possible if you’re identifying as many things as possible to fix, but it’s a cultural thing people know, especially made us an American thing, but we just we hate. You know, we hate losing, we hate, we hate that loan.


Patrick Adams  15:21

Well, and that also, I think, goes back to leadership, right? I mean, if if someone is afraid to show their problems, if they’re afraid to show read on their chart, I mean, there’s got to be a reason behind that. Right. And a lot of times that goes back to leadership is leadership, creating a an environment where people feel safe to, to show that their problems, or if I, if I raise my hand and say, there’s an issue, am I gonna get, you know, am I gonna get yelled at? And am I going to, is there going to be a big problem? Am I gonna have to work overtime? You know, is everybody gonna be mad at me? Right? So it also goes back to, you know, what is what is the environment that that leadership is, is creating?


Kevin Gausch  16:02

Right, right. I mean, I can’t get out the door in the morning without something slowing me down. You know, I mean, like, some, some, something’s out of gas, something broke, something didn’t work, you know, I can’t find my keys, whatever it is. So expect the 12 month 400 person in construction project out in the weather to go, as you planned, written down by an estimator six months prior, on a piece of schedule to go exactly how it was, but come on, it’s not gonna happen. Right. Right. Not as planned. It can happen. It can happen on schedule, but it’s never going to happen as you envisioned it, you know, six months ago, when you when you bid the job? Absolutely.


Patrick Adams  16:45

Right. What would you say? What are some of the ways that you do measure success on a construction site? Do you guys do you use KPIs? Are there general KPIs or industry accepted? KPIs are what’s used on construction sites?


Kevin Gausch  17:02

So in my experience, it’s been scheduled performance, right, are we you know, earned value? The, you know, margin the profitability of the job itself? Quality to an extent safety always. You know, they’re your typicals sure, you know, so and each of them and, you know, again, with, with, with my new role, and the tools that we use, when we talk process improvement, people immediately think production, right? At least that’s my opinion, people think, oh, you know, it’s about driving waste out of production. And it’s not necessarily not only that, right, it’s, it’s about eliminating injuries, it’s about eliminating defects. It’s about, you know, eliminating claims and, you know, any anything that, you know, kind of gets in the way of things going, other than the way you think they should be going and it doesn’t have to just be production.


Patrick Adams  17:56

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. No, that’s good. What about technology? What’s, how is technology used in maybe in your, you know, in your industry, in your world of Lean process improvement, you know, how is technology or or digitalization being used to improve the work that you guys are doing?


Kevin Gausch  18:17

It’s, it’s huge. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s massive, and they’re slow, I’ll stereotype but they’re slow to adopt, right? And it’s funny, because he go to a construction site, and guys are God and how to use these, these those to whatever. And then, you know, it’s time for break and they call their phone, they’re going through, they’re doing whatever. So it’s, it’s a bit of a, it’s a bit of a game, you know, you know, so you get the normal bell curve of, of early adopters and champions and people who are kind of watching to see what happens and then the people that are never going to do it no matter what, right, I’ve seen it. I can tell you the best experience that I I’ve had, and it comes with when I went to work for safety culture, with their I auditor tool, and it was something that I saw we had an issue a quality issue, right at our, in our my former company where we had in this was in gas work. So gas distribution work, okay, the stuff that just goes from down the street into your house. And so we’d have the customer come in behind our work and dig up our work and say, Well, you did this wrong, you missed this, you forgot that. And in the gas distribution world, you have these things called operator qualifications. And so an individual who works on that customer’s system has to be qualified by that customer to perform that work. And that gets down to the task level. They have to be able to demonstrate they know how to perform the different tasks that make up the job. And you can be qualified on some tasks and not others, right. So I might just be qualified to dig so on the Ask waiter, I might just be qualified to tap the main. So I’m the guy in the hole. And the more qualifications you have, the more professional, you know, opportunities you have. And if there’s a problem, you can have your qualifications pulled. Okay, so now you don’t have any opportunity to, you know, to make money. And so there was, it was I was tasked with, okay, how do we come up with some way to demonstrate back to the customer that we did do it right when we did it, right. And we came across I auditor and the use case was, we needed something that before we left the job site, we could document the quality of the work that was performed. So that when you fill in the hole, and you can’t see anything, you don’t have to take it up to prove what we did, right. And if something were to get damaged, or lost in the process of digging it up, we have a before picture, okay, that we could produce. And I was told, they’ll never do it, right, the guys in the field would ever do it. We’ve tried this 50 times. And what they had tried with was handing them, you know, tablets without cellular that would say, create an Excel workbook and then have to take digital pictures and upload them into the workbook. You know, like he’s not gonna happen, right? So they were right, it was going to fail if we did. Oh, yeah. But this tool was simple, right? It was very simple. In fact, it was so simple that once we got it up and running with it didn’t take much. I handed it to one foreman, and I said, Okay, hold on, I got a phone call. I’ll be right back. I’ll train you. As soon as I get back took the phone call was back in two minutes. He’s like, I’m good. I got it. tz. Right. So first and foremost, number one, it’s got to be simple to be successful. And the second thing is, it’s got to be just got it’s got to have a it’s gonna help them personally. Yeah, right. Like, if it can’t just be do this, because the company will make more money,


Patrick Adams  21:54

right? They know what’s in it for them?


Kevin Gausch  21:57

What’s in it for them? Yeah. And what this did was it provided them insurance, right? So what I would do is I get to the point and say, Look, have you ever been accused of doing something wrong? He didn’t do well on site. And he goes, every time I say, All right, well, even if it’s not every time, right, even if it’s just sometimes. What do you do to back it up? He said, Why have pictures on my phone? I said, well show me the pictures on your phone, and he pulls up his phone. And it’s a picture of a hole in the ground. Right zoomed in a picture of the hologram. He’s like, I got 1000s of them. Right? And I see Yeah, I said you have 1000 pictures of 1000 holes in the ground, and none of them look any different. I don’t know where you were when it’s okay. I don’t know whose hole that is, right. And you’ll probably break your phone tomorrow and won’t be able to find those things. I said, So if if you use this will give you the phone, you take the pictures and you, you know, you can document the work that you did. So that if there’s ever an accusation against you, you’ve got insurance to protect yourself. And the guy. Yeah, okay, that makes sense. And they’re already taking the pictures, right? They’re already kind of doing it, they were just doing it on their own. So we just had a uniform ended up. And we had the people that said, oh, you know, whatever, they wouldn’t do it. Until it saved their friends job. Right? Or they bailed someone out of a scrape? And then right, you know, kind of the parts of module one?


Patrick Adams  23:14

Yeah, then they’re like, Okay, maybe I can do this. Yeah, right. Right. But I love that you said, it’s got to be it has to be simple. Because you know that in my experience, too, it’s, you know, if they, if someone has to take two or three steps to do something, they’re just going to either figure out a different way to do it, or they’re just not going to do it, you know, if they have to climb over this to get to that to, you know, look, you know, for whatever it is, it’s just not going to happen you, we have to figure out ways to to make things simpler for you know, our frontline team members, so that they don’t have to jump through hoops to make something happen. And that goes for process improvement solutions. It goes for, you know, just any type of work that anybody’s doing, the more that we can simplify it, the better. I agree.


Kevin Gausch  24:04

I mean, how many times have you seen a solution to a problem get implemented, and it makes it five times more complex than before you started? Oh, yeah. Right. Like, you know, most most people’s response to any kind of process have proven that I’ve seen their knee jerk responses and an inspection point, right? Or, you know, or some kind of double check, or let’s put it here and here and here. So we know we did it. Right. And it’s like, well, you know, okay, I guess from a quality standpoint, that’ll that’ll help. Right, but it’s from an efficiency standpoint, and convenience standpoint is certainly not going to or are there other better ways that we could you know, kind of error proof this without the redundancies Yeah. And that’s that’s what it was going to be for these guys was the you know, download this, upload that rename who this dragged here and do this thing. And it’s like, of course not, you know, that’s not worth the effort.


Patrick Adams  24:58

Right? Right. Yeah, potentially for a short term or interim fix to protect yourself or to protect, protect whoever the customer is, you know, maybe you have those, those, you know, interim action items and bring in a third party auditor or, you know, someone to inspect or whatever might be. But that’s a short there has to be a short term fix. So looking for the long term, you know, something that that is going to be easier in the long run is always going to be better. So it sounds like this, the app that you were part of definitely help that for these for these individuals, right, they were able to take less steps and get exactly what they needed. And they understood what was in it for them, they understood the benefits, the values that are brought to them. By utilizing that.


Kevin Gausch  25:49

That’s right. And really, when I was talking to them, that was the conversation I was having, right like this, this tool may have multiple benefits to you know, give various different people, here’s the benefit to you, right, I’m gonna ask you to take five minutes your day, which you’re already doing it for three minutes on your own with your phone, do it for five minutes with us, because we added a couple extra questions in there. And you know, at the end of the day, we’re like, hey, they got it. They understood the why.


Patrick Adams  26:15

Sure. Sure. Yeah. What would you say? I mean, that’s one example. And you said that was I auditor app, correct? That’s right. Yes. That was one example. What would be some other examples of, of, you know, technology and its impact on process effectiveness?


Kevin Gausch  26:32

So I’ve, I’ll tell you my favorite one, there’s, I’ll leave the names out, right. But there’s, there was a gentleman I was pretty good friends with who was not someone you would expect to be all that technology, technologically proficient, right. And he came to me and said, look, we’ve got to do, we’re installing utility poles, right? He’s a, we’ve got to go to 200 poles in the next two weeks. And we’ve got to document the current state of these poles, and write up a list of the work that has to get done, and provide a report for each poll back to the customer. And so these polls were, let’s say they were down like a 30 mile stretch, right, there is a lot of driving involved. And a lot of administrative work involved. If we didn’t have this, you know, I ordered her app. So they would have to drive to the pole, take some digital pictures on their phone, let’s say write up something on a notepad, maybe they could get to two, three polls have to go back to the office. And let’s say they did the reports the same day, they did the they did the inspections, ideally, because it’s still fresh in your mind. So they write them up. There’s the rest of your day. So maybe you can get three poles done in one day. And then you have to send, send those reports to the to the customer. And so now the customer is getting batches of three a day. And do the math, I don’t even know off the top my head of that if you can get 200 polls done in two weeks at three a day, but probably not right? Definitely not. So. So he said, Can this app help me? So I said, Well, let’s, let’s talk you through it. So you know, explain to me your process, right? Because that’s always the starting point. And then, so Okay, so look, we create a template, and that will take me all five minutes. And we can get you an account and get you know, the person that needs it set up to where they can go to the poll, open the app, take the picture, fill out a couple questions, hit complete. And when they do that, on the back end, it’ll generate a report. And it’ll automatically email that report to your customer. And we’ll get data analytics and other other you know, kind of, you know, bells and whistles on the back end if you don’t concern yourself with but if we want to know, what are the top, whatever things that you’re going to need to replace on each poll, or you know, of all the polls or whatever data you need, we have that data. And these apps amazing. And so, so now by the time you leave your job site, but by the time you leave that one, poll the reports already in the hands of the customer. So now you could do six inspections a day, with no administrative work on the back end. Right. So when you ask, you know, the role of technology, to me, it’s about freeing up, especially in the construction world, it’s about freeing up the people to do the value added work, let’s listen boil down the lien terms, right, like they’re being paid to do these to do the visual inspections. But the administrative piece number one, it’s not their strength. Number two, it’s it’s really not the value added work, right? It’s necessary, but I you know, I want to minimize as much as possible. That’s right. This instead of just did all of that for them automatically. And so, when they see technology as a solution to their problem, or as a way to give them more time to do the value added work and not something that appeases management, then right I get so in a bonus somewhere up the ladder, right? When there’s a direct benefit to them, and it’ll be successful, and that’s, that’s really, like, I’m passionate about trying to find ways to protect the frontline worker make their lives easier, make them more efficient, you know, job satisfaction, just happier, healthier lives kind of thing. It’s really, you know, we, we, we do all this construction on their backs, we should at least lighten the load a little bit as much as we can.


Patrick Adams  30:30

Yeah, yeah, I can imagine that when, you know, obviously, if, if they’re getting bogged down with administrative tasks, or, or, you know, if they’re being given some form of software that is clunky, or it’s, you know, weighing them down, like, I’m supposed to get four inspections done today. And I can only get two done because of all this other stuff that I have to do on top of everything else, right? If we can streamline that for our team members and give them you know, the technology or the, the, you know, whatever it may be the software that’s going to streamline that so that they can actually get the four done that, that they’re supposed to get done that day, you know, how much better is it for that person to go home at the end of their day saying, and I really had a good day versus what a crappy day that was? Right?


Kevin Gausch  31:18

And you know, what else? Yeah, I know what else it does. He looks at the lean guy, right? And says he helped me I want his help again, in the future. Versus Oh, no, here comes the lean guy. You know what I mean? Like, he’s about to get in my business. Let’s, you know, let’s he’s gonna


Patrick Adams  31:34

come see me more work? Yeah. How about what about change management? Kevin? What, um, have you ever had somebody that, you know, as you were, you know, maybe struggling to, you actually mentioned this a little bit earlier, you know, with with maybe some of the, you know, individuals that you work with? Maybe they’re there, they don’t want to, you know, move to this new technology, or they don’t want to use this new tool that you’re trying to present them with? Do you have any stories of individuals that you maybe had to work through some a little bit of change management to get them to understand the benefits of it? And what’s in it for them? You know, that you could share with the listeners?


Kevin Gausch  32:17

I have a funny one, it probably doesn’t directly answer your question. It’s really what I don’t know if you could say, it’s like, it was a victory. Like I made a believer out of him, but it was kind of funny. Okay, so we did a training. And it was on technology, right? It was we’re going to automate our timesheets, we’re going to automate our inspections. Okay. So it was it was two different things for training and one. And apparently, this person that was in a training was like, I don’t want any of this. Right. And so he transferred out of that business unit into a different business unit. Okay,


Patrick Adams  32:51

that happened before. I know exactly what you’re talking about.


Kevin Gausch  32:54

Yeah. Well, you know, it’s, it’s a slow progression, but eventually, that business unit, then we were doing this thing for two, right? So I show up. He’s like, man, and he’s nice guy, right? But he’s like, Man, I left that last place. Because he was like, I don’t want to talk to you. I was like, listen, I said, I’ve got to train you on this. I don’t care if you use it, don’t use it. That’s not That’s not between me and you. That’s when you and your boss zebra, I have to train you on this. So I want to make sure before I leave here today, you know what, what to do whether or not you do it is that’s that’s your decision. Right? And so he, I trained him, and you know, I left and about a year went by. And he was having issue an issue with that app that I trained him on. Okay, so now I know he used it for a year. So I was like, maybe maybe that is a good story. I don’t know. But he he called me as a Hey, Kevin, this is so and so. And I don’t think he really knew my I don’t think he knew it was me that he was talking to you. Right? Like, I don’t think you remembered name and face. I think someone said, Oh, you’re having this problem called Kevin, I’ll help you out. And I was like, Okay, well hold on. And I was able to help them resolve his issues. Like, oh, man, thanks so much is a big help. I said, Well, how’s it how’s that working for? It? Sounds great. Suze. I said, Okay, thanks. Have a good one. But I didn’t I didn’t you know, I let it go at that. Yeah, but, you know, it’s like, you can run but I’m gonna see you can run, but you can’t hide because the technology has to be the right technology, right? It has to help. It has to help them not just the company, but them personally. And if it does, then I can believe in it, then, you know, it’s the right thing to do. And I have no problem fighting for it. But if, you know, I mean, how many times have you said like, yeah, you know, if you as the solution, helping drive the solution. You don’t even believe in the solution. It’s it’ll fail. It’ll fail for sure.


Patrick Adams  34:49

And that’s why it’s so important that you know, mid managers and executive leaders, you know, buy into, you know, lean methodology before it’s rolled out to an organization. I know so many organizations where a leader came in and just said, you know, handed over a, you know, 10 Step, program Lean program to management and said, go implement this. And, you know, it’s like, that’s not going to be effective if you don’t believe in it, if you don’t, as leadership, if you if you don’t take the time to invest in the team members, if you if you’re not there helping to remove roadblocks, if you if you don’t believe in it, like you said, the team knows that if it’s not important to management, it’s not going to be important to them.


Kevin Gausch  35:36

And, you know, it’s so much more than a book and a manual and principles, right? Like, to me, it’s about relationships, it’s about, it’s about luck. I’ve seen too many lean people walk into a room and turn the whole room off by acting as if you know that I’ve I know something you’ve done. And this is you, you just wouldn’t get it. And you know, it’s not complicated. It’s, you know, the guy that asked you to help them with the pole inspections, he understood lean, he just didn’t know it. And it was the same guy I told you in the beginning about the digging the holes, he understood lean, so lean professionals, the first thing they should do every time my opinion, should be to spend time with the people doing the work to understand what they do and why they do it. Right? Then you can start seeing once you see the way you know, the way you see the way are things, you’ll see the downtime, the inventory, the flow, and the poor, and the waste and the rework, and you’ll see it right, that’s right. And then you’ll then you’ll be able to take those examples that you’ve learned and have a conversation with that person and say, Look, I’m not gonna teach you about flow and pull, I’m gonna say, Look, we know, when you’ve got downtime, that’s cost that’s in your budget, and it’s gonna be you know, you’re responsible for it. How do we make sure that, you know, we’ve got our capacity matched up to our production expectations? Right? Not too much, not too little. Well, how do we how do we do that? Right? Well, why do you have to go back and rework that? Well, this this and that’s happened? Well, Why’d that happen? Right? Well, for this, there’s nothing what can we do different next time to make sure that doesn’t happen? We do this, okay. So you’re coaching and you’re, you’re getting them to see the way without having a jam it down their throats, I think that’s a, we do ourselves as lean professionals have the favor by, you know, trying to learn what they do for us, instead of teaching them what we know. Yeah,


Patrick Adams  37:26

so true. I always walk into any organization that I go into, the first thing that I want to do is make the make the team help the team to understand that I believe that I truly believe that they are the experts that I’m only here to help facilitate this, this process, but you guys are the real experts, I’m not here to tell you how to do your job, I’m not here to tell you that I am you know, the the All Knowing as you know, that’s not. But you know, I have worked with Lean consultants that do walk in just like you said, with that kind of mentality, and it completely turns people off right away. And this is just not necessary. Respect for people means respect for everyone. And when you walk into an organization, you don’t know more than they know about their job. They know more than, than you know, and it as a, I guess, as a lien practitioner, I’m speaking specifically right, as a lien consultant or practitioner. They know more than than I do about that job. Now, I have some some tools and some techniques and some different, you know, some some strengths that I can bring to the team. But if I come in there and completely try to bulldoze them over with, you know, lean terms and method, you know, terms and, and concepts, it’s going to completely shut them down. You know, yeah,


Kevin Gausch  38:51

field losing, kills me you don’t walk into a company that’s 100 years old, and successful. Right. And, and doing okay. And tell them they’ve been doing something that you know that you’re here to, you know, the you don’t know what I do, you don’t know how I do it and why I do it. But that’s not to diminish what what we do and what we know. And I think there’s there’s certainly a lot of value to be had. Absolutely. You just got to figure out where those two things come together. That’s all.


Patrick Adams  39:17

That’s right. That’s right. And it’s actually and I’ll be completely transparent. You know, just within the last few years, you know, I’ve started to open up my mind to the role of technology and digitalization in Lean process improvement. You know, I do still believe that, you know, there’s definitely power in pen to paper, there’s power in this, you know, visuals that, that I’m actually a part of, you know, the psychology behind putting a red cup or using a red marker. You know, there’s definitely power behind that. And I don’t want to lose that. But I also see the benefits of technology and software and You know, the what it can do to, you know, to cut some of the waste out of rolling up data of, you know, spending time and trying to, you know, gather all that information off of, you know, two months worth of charts and data collection, you know, and put it into one area where I can actually read it, because the main goal for me when I have that data is to be able to, for it to speak to me in a way that I can solve problems quicker. Right. So if the if there’s software and technology that’s out there that can help me with that, of course, I want to be open to that. Right. Yeah, I love Yeah, for sure we’re doing with the with the eye auditor, I think that’s a can be a huge benefit to so many organizations,


Kevin Gausch  40:41

huge benefit what? So with the guests, people that it was our initial use case that evolved over time. So it evolved from take a picture before you leave to a certain hold points along the installation process. Take that picture. And here’s a picture of what that picture should look like. And here’s a little call outs that you know, make sure this looks like this. And this is done this way. Right. So it almost became quality assurance. Right? And so now, not only am I making sure that before they leave, it was done right? Not let’s discover after the fact that they did it right. I’ve got some some process checks put in place. Now I’m getting some consistency with the way the installation is done from from forming the foreman. So it’s not left open to their way of doing it. It became a training tool so that when the former would ask his number two, like, Hey, can you please go take this picture. And when you do make sure it looks like this, this and this. And now you’ve got peer to peer training, like all of these unintended benefits and positive results starting to come out of, hey, let’s let’s cover our butts here and make sure that the customer doesn’t yell at us anymore. So yeah, I mean, what I found without fail is that whenever technology kind of saves the day, let’s say let’s say you know, it was the right situation and the right solution to the problem. And and, you know, it worked for that moment, then it’s like, okay, well, this, Well, where else can we what else can I do? And where else can we use it? And how else can and that’s that can be good? That can be bad, right? Because then you’re doing it for the sake of doing it sometimes. And you’ve got a solution looking for a problem, right? Or, you know, you could have the, you know, the kind of exponential application that, you know, maybe you didn’t foresee going into it. So you just got to be careful. You’re right. It’s, it’s not good by default. Right? It’s got to be the right. The right time in place. Yeah,


Patrick Adams  42:38

yeah. And I think, you know, understanding what the technology is doing for you, you know, understanding before, so not just accepting this, this new tool, you know, this new technology, and just, okay, just tell me how to do it. No, but really helping your team to understand what it’s doing behind the scenes and, and how this information can actually help me and, you know, really giving them that that full understanding rather than just bringing them in and saying, just use it. And it’ll be better. Well, that’s not enough for for a lot of people. Yeah, it’s important that we understand when this when this doesn’t go the way that I expected, what am I looking at here? Or what can I do differently to make sure that I can still fulfill my job requirements, you know, when the technology right work exactly the way you said or whatever? Right?


Kevin Gausch  43:28

Yeah. So one of the things we did is when we were rolling that out, we included the employees in how the templates were built to say, so we got their feedback, and what questions should we ask to make sure that we’ve got you covered when you’re doing these? Well, you know, put one, phrase it this way, put this in, take this out and listen to him, right. And then what we did is when they were small pilot, and of course, we’d always pilot it with three people, we know how to do it, and one person we knew will give us a problem. Right? So that person was out number, right? Every time that we did it. So sure. And then we bring them out and get their feedback. So what worked, what didn’t work. And no matter what they told us, if we could if it was a good idea, we’d implement it. If it wasn’t something we were going to put, we told them no. And we told them why. Right? We didn’t drag it out. And we built trust, you know, and it wasn’t like all you know, rainbows and unicorns, whatever. But it they trusted us to the point where they knew this is a tool that benefited them. And it was being done for the right reasons. That’s right. So yeah, that’s all good.


Patrick Adams  44:32

That’s great. So Kevin, if if anyone’s interested to learn more about your company safety culture, or the eye auditor app, where would they go? We can throw some of these links in the show notes. But where would they go to find more information on on what you guys do and the benefits that you offer to two companies?


Kevin Gausch  44:52

Yeah, safety culture.com You can download free trial the app right i auditor’s on the Apple Store and Google, I don’t know what Google does Google Store, whatever they have. Okay. But I really enjoyed talking to you. I appreciate you having me on. I could I could do this for another two hours if you want, right, though. I don’t think you’d find listeners that will just do it for two more hours. I’m not sure. But it’s been great. Ya


Patrick Adams  45:17

know, Kevin, I appreciate your time. I appreciate everything you’re doing for the construction industry and the utility contractor space, lots of good things happening there. And definitely look forward to having you back on again. In the future. Maybe we can talk about, you know, updates, or what’s happening in your industry. And again, as technology continues to change and improve, obviously, we want to stay on the forefront of that. So keep us keep us in the loop.


Kevin Gausch  45:47

You’ll do it. Thank you so much. All right. Thanks, Gavin.


Patrick Adams  45:51

Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the lien solutions podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe. This way you’ll get updates as new episodes become available. If you feel so inclined. Please give us a review. Thank you so much.

Meet Patrick

Patrick is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for his unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He founded his consulting practice in 2018 to work with leaders at all levels and organizations of all sizes to achieve higher levels of performance. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He’s worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profit, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion-dollar corporations.