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In this episode, you are going to listen in on a conversation between me and Joshua Plenert, MBA, MS, PE a licensed professional engineer who’s an expert in applying Lean and Six-Sigma concepts to the architectural, engineering and construction industry. As a structural engineer practitioner himself, he’s not only theorizing about what he talks and writes about – he’s putting it to practice in his work, which you will learn more about in this episode.
Here are some of the key points discussed about Lean Six Sigma concepts:
- Lean Six Sigma consists of two approaches:
- Lean is a methodology that works to reduce waste in organizations.
- The focus with Six Sigma is to reduce variation in your work process.
- If you just start taking these tools and applying them they don’t work very well. You have to build a culture to apply them.
- TPS is a lean approach to business, but it is more of a cultural people orientated lean approach.
- The Shingo Institute helps organizations learn the Shingo model which incorporates a lot of Lean Six Sigma concepts. They focus on this cultural approach, not just to Lean, but to enterprise excellence overall.
- The process in strategic excellence builds a culture of strategic thinking rather than just focusing on the strategic plan. Our goal is not the strategic plan but achieving strategic results.
- Some of the characteristics of a firm that achieved excellence in strategic thinking include:
- Engagement or ownership of the strategy;
- Alignment throughout the organization with the strategy.
- Anytime that you measure something, you are going to influence behaviors. When using metrics/KPI’s within your firm, focus on the purpose of the metrics which is to drive performance and to influence behavior. Focus on what you are trying to do with your strategy and measure what it is that you are trying to influence. If you are not trying to influence it, don’t measure it, because you will point people in the wrong direction.
A few examples of Lean Six Sigma tools are:
- The Bottleneck analysis where you can look at the flow of your processes and clearly identify where the bottlenecks are. You can break them down based on how much these bottlenecks are affecting your process. Once you identify your bottlenecks clearly, it gives you more understanding of how you can help improve and reduce these bottlenecks.
- The Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa), which is a root cause analysis tool helping to identify root causes of the problem. It is used to look at a specific problem and to identify all the different aspects they’re adding to the problem.
- The A3 tool. This is similar to the Ishikawa (Fishbone Diagram) but it takes the problem and it breaks it down even further. It helps to determine how the problem can be resolved and what results you would expect to see. This is a way of organizing your problem-solving approach.
Sometimes we see a problem and we start trying to solve it before we really understand everything that is adding into the problems. In all of these tools, you have to have an understanding of why you are using them.
More in this episode…
About Joshua Plenert, MBA, MS, PE
Joshua is a licensed professional engineer and is currently serving as a Regional Manager for an Engineering and Architectural firm where he has played a major role in the development of two branch offices. Joshua’s educational background consists of a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Structural Engineering, and an MBA. He has worked in various aspects of the AEC industry for more than 14 years. His construction experience includes more than 8 years of experience working in all phases of construction, construction management, facilities management, and project management. His engineering experience includes nearly 6 years of structural engineering, project management, engineering management, and business development. Joshua has also enjoyed teaching engineering courses as an adjunct professor.
Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. – Peter Drucker
Books Mentioned in this episode:
Strategic Excellence in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Industries: How AEC Firms Can Develop and Execute Strategy Using Lean Six Sigma
Resources and links mentioned in this session include:
Engineering Management Accelerator Workshop (Online) | 5 PDHs
Engineering Management Institute Professional Membership
Joshua Plenert’s LinkedIn
Cartwright Nor Cal
This episode is brought to you by PPI, the leader of FE, PE, or SE exam preparations. Use promo code T-E-C-C-8 for a 20% discount at PPI2Pass.com
How can you apply Lean Six Sigma concepts in your engineering career?
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on Lean Six Sigma concepts.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Christian Knutson, PE, PgMP, PMP
Engineering Management Institute