Be A Lean Construction Leader

Be A Lean Construction Leader

July 2, 2019 // Romano Nickerson


I’m an architect. I went the route of getting a master’s degree in architecture. I have worked for almost two decades for a firm here in the states that does work on healthcare facilities. I’ve been very passionate about that. I come from a family of doctors, nurses, so, it’s my own imprint on that legacy without being in the medical profession.

I’ve been on a Lean journey since 2004. I was lucky enough to have Sutter Health, a large hospital system in Northern California, as one of my first clients. They began a building effort that was centered around upgrade work for the Senate bill in California which required a seismic retrofit of facilities and their massive capital program in the six- or seven-billion-dollar range. They found out about Lean construction and they figured that if they could save even a small increment of that amount of money it would allow them to reinvest. To great effect.

I was lucky enough to be on their pilot project using the Last Planner® system which is you know one of the fundamental pieces of Lean construction. From that time until now, it’s been just a wonderful thing for me that I’ve very much enjoyed. We went from being willing participants on project work to bringing principles into our own firm. At this point we have many elements of a Lean operating system that we use in our day-to-day operations. I’ve also had the opportunity as a practitioner to move from healthcare work into consulting. I was invited to do some work with a couple of Fortune 500 companies as a design integrator focusing on my own skills with trying to bring lean thinking into an architecture firm and how that translates to the design phase of a project.



It’s really been about the leveling of the load and the idea that within construction we focus on the network of commitments. That’s part of the legacy from Sutter Health. It’s the idea of seeing projects as networks of commitments and that we need to have a reliable exchange of information. I find that if I have a system that works, and I optimize the system so that I can be reliable, all the stress that I used to have about meeting deadlines just fades away.

I’ve also enjoyed bringing a number of the tools home, like choosing by advantages, to help in our family life to decide whether we should move somewhere or not; or to take a job or not. And having that bit of science to back up what would often be an intuition or kind of gut-based decision has been impactful for us.

From a personal perspective I just don’t want to work a different way. I do everything I can both in my business development activities, and in my efforts to train other people within our firm and certainly in the evangelizing that I do on behalf of the Lean Construction Institute. That’s just something that I feel like I need to give if I want something different in the industry.

I need to help change it. So, I’m prepared to be that change agent and I’m willing to go tell my story wherever I need to go.


Find this video and many more from Romano’s interview with Lean Construction Leaders here.



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