Takeaways from the European Lean Construction Conference

The European Lean Construction Conference was recently held as a forum for Lean Construction practitioners to share stories, best practices, and lessons learned. Hoylu is proud to be a sponsor of the conference. Below are a few of our takeaways. 

The Future of Lean Construction  

The Future of Lean Construction session described the path to the ultra-efficient construction site on the basis of five Lean eras. Selim-Tugra Demir, Head of Lean at Drees & Sommer, provided an outlook on Smart Lean Construction and Autonomous Lean Construction. 

“We generate so much data within a construction project, but we do not know how to deal with it,” he said. “I think it’s not a matter of choice that the increasing number of smart technologies provided on construction projects that will lead us to this next era. We need to somehow innovate and disrupt in order to be always up to date.” 

Demir talked about:  

  • Analog: Hand-on with sticky notes and in-person meetings 
  • Digital: Data collection using software solutions and collaboration platforms, virtual, or hybrid meetings with screens 
  • Smart: Comprehensive networking of materials, tools, machines, and people 
  • Autonomous: Robotics and automated construction, contour crafting 
  • Ultra-efficient: Future vision, optimum, synchronous construction sites 


“The pandemic demonstrated that doing things digitally works,” he said. “I think it’s not a matter of preference, it’s a matter of adoption. In my opinion, the same engagement can also work when you do it digitally — but of course you need the right partners and you need to set it up clearly.” 


Using Agile Concepts & Practices to Assist Project Execution 

Agile principles, concepts, and frameworks are disrupting established organizations by driving innovation and openness to new ways of working. Providing transparency and flexibility by encouraging cross-functional collaboration and repeated delivery of value increments will be a key differentiator for construction stakeholders and projects. This session, presented by Lean Construction Agile Coaches William Power and Derek Sinnott, introduced Agile concepts and their application in design and construction execution. 

“The Agile approach is really person-centric,” said Sinnott. “It mobilized the idea that the team is nimble and empowered to act relatively autonomously … in short, they respond like a living organism that is constantly adapting.” 

How can Agile be used on job site level and into the design office? Use the concepts of agility to be flexible and adaptable enough to incorporate these changes, said Power as he outlined how the Scrum framework could be used in construction (see below).  

 The key learnings from the session included:  

  • Start with a Single Team: Get it functioning comfortably 
  • Begin to Scale: Identify blockers to scaling and address (e.g., policies, procedures, resistance) 
  • Educate: Provide training and consistent support


The Right Ingredients for High-Performing Teams 

Building a high-performing team is simple but not easy. Lean and Agile are the perfect ingredients for teams to deliver integrated solutions across disciplines without losing sight of their ultimate desired outcomes. Robin Hendrich, Vice President, Service Transformation, Europe, Jacobs, shared the story of an 18-month pilot that involved Lean consultants, Agile coaches, engineers, and customers working together to build high-performing teams across Europe.

Agile started out as an alternative approach to software development, but is now applied across a number of industries, including engineering. Parts of the Agile Manifesto are poetic, said Hendrich, and tie into the focus with Lean (see chart below).  

“It’s an iterative way of working that promotes incremental development that values human communication and customer feedback or requirements and solutions above through collaboration between cross functional teams,” she said. “It’s a very succinct way of describing Agile. … you know Lean as: getting value to flow with the people at the customer and then seeking perfection.” 

Hendricks shared how Jacobs instituted Lean and Agile ways of working, reviewing the following statements: 

  • Problem: Multidisciplinary teams of all sizes find it difficult to stay synchronized and collaborative in the work they are doing. There is a tendency to work in isolation which results in wasted work, waiting for work, and late change. 
  • Hypothesis: Adopting Lean and Agile ways of working that are familiar in the software industry, alongside collaborative approaches/technologies, such as federated models and data in GIS, could improve team, save time, save cost, and improve team and client satisfaction.  
  • Validation: Jacobs initiative to improve deliver on all projects incorporating culture, ways of working, business models, and data and technology. The concept was to test and iteratively improved on multiple project, leading to evidence of 10-20% improvement on time 
  • Rollout: Having proved the approach in 2020-2021, they created a Ways of Working service that applies Lean and Agile to all new, large projects through mobilization support and 6 weeks of coaching.  


“We identified that the right time to implement this is not halfway through the project. It’s not when it’s starts to get shaky and wobbly,” she said. “… we need to do this right from the beginning right at the start of project that’s our biggest opportunity truly shift the way that projects work and operate.” 

Demo: Pull Planning Made Easy With Hoylu  

Creating an engaging digital work environment for your team doesn’t have to be a daunting effort. Hoylu’s Truls-Jeppe Lund and Ahmed Zia discussed Hoylu for Construction. Hoylu is an easy-to-use, cloud-based, construction project management and whiteboarding tool that enables distributed teams to plan and manage projects.    

Our software combines Pull Planning with digital whiteboarding to give teams the big room experience in a digital environment. With this type of tool, teams can easily monitor, measure, and stay informed by connecting everyone in real-time regardless of location.   

With Hoylu, you can easily access project plans to update tasks, add dependencies, and plot variance reasons. Our workspaces contain business logic to provide the structure of a project management tool with the flexibility of a whiteboard. So, you’ll get real-time status updates of project details, that you can access through any device. 

For more information about the event, visit the conference website

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