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Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement Within the Building Design Industry

In my earlier blog titled Applying Lean Principles in the Building Design Industry, we discussed continuous improvement as one of the key principals.  This principal drives innovative solutions through the never-ending quest to be better today than we were yesterday.  It is important to think incremental.  Don’t let best be the enemy of better by waiting until the change is perfect.  And no improvement is too small.  Small is realistic and achievable which is especially important in a demanding industry like building design.  It requires a shift in mindset to a long-term view where investments now are evaluated on the future benefit.The first question you’ll need to answer in changing your culture is why strive for continuous improvements?  At Fitzemeyer & Tocci, the answer is linked to a balanced score card approach across all our strategic pillars.

  1. Becoming a high velocity learning firm will allow our employees to increase the rate at which they improve as individuals and become problem finders.

  2. Focusing on value added activities allows our firm to thrive in a competitive market place.

  3. Lastly, it produces innovative solutions and technical excellence for our clients.

So now that you know why you want a culture of never-ending improvements, how do you build or establish the culture?

To be successful in establishing a culture of continuous improvement, 100% participation is necessary where everyone is empowered to make “just do it” improvements.  These improvements are quick or easy to implement and are directly related to the individual’s job function.  They don’t require any sort of documentation or approvals due to the nature and direct relevance to how they complete their own work.  Allowing individuals to take charge of improving their own work will be critical to the engagement and participation making it successful.

Continous Improvement

Failure demand response is another way to generate continuous improvements.  This is a systems concept that was first published by John Seddon in 1992.  The demand is created by a failure to do something or something correct which creates a waste.  In the building design industry, a response to a RFI or a rejected shop drawing can be viewed as a failure demand.  It requires the building designer to have an outward mindset asking why the RFI needed to be submitted without feeling the need to defend one’s prior work.  It’s not easy but in this answer lies the potential for a continuous improvement that eliminates future failure demands or waste.


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