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Lean Building Blog: What to read on Lean

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Lean Building Blog: What to read on Lean

April 10, 2012

Today, a sharp young guy named Ryan wrote to me after seeing a Keynote Presentation I did at the recent BuilderExchange meeting in Las Vegas. Two-hundred fifty people attended from 60 suppliers and a like number of builders.

I basically upbraided both the groups by showing them with vivid examples that neither was doing their job. If they did, however, Suppliers would sell a lot more stuff and Builders would make a lot more money – without compromising quality or abusing trades. Then I showed them what doing their job would consist of. Strangely enough, they loved it. It is a good sign when suppliers and builders alike are willing to face the truth, even when it hurts.

Ryan was intrigued by this “Lean stuff” and wanted to learn more, asking me for recommended reading. Here is what I told him:

  • Go to www.housingzone.com and search by my name. I have written more about Lean, Quality, good operating practices, etc. etc. than everyone else in our industry combined, I think. Yet, that pales compared to what has been done in automotive, electronics, etc. This stuff is even starting to impact healthcare and banking. Sign up to get my blog notices through HousingZone as well, and also sign up for Todd Hallet, Lean Architect, from TK Design. He does a phenomenal Blog there and we work with him intimately. Go back and read every single post Todd has made. Another good blogger that gets into Lean is Dennis Leonard. And Google “Fletcher Groves” and find his “Escape from Averageness” blog. Good stuff, and tomorrow when I get the emails from those who I forgot, I will send them to you. (Sorry, it’s almost 10:00 PM and I am just beat.)
  • Now go to www.LinkedIn.com  and sign up for the LeanBuilding Group which we run. Many good discussions take place there and you can ask anything related to Lean and get good responses from the 500 members. We screen the membership and keep out folks merely trying to sell stuff unless it is very clearly tied to Lean.
  • Attached is a series I did last year that got a lot of attention on BIM, Builder Information Modeling. (If anyone wants that series, or the one I just completed on Quality Management (both in 3 parts,) email me at scott@truen.com and I will send them out.) But my articles on Lean topics go back years, so go back into the archives and read on.
  • We also have a PDF of a booklet full of articles and white papers – The Evolution of Lean Building. That is an excellent primer. We’ll send you that, too.
  • On our website, www.TrueN.com, you will find more links to Lean-related white papers, presentations and articles. Read the white paper on Lean Design for sure. That got a lot of attention when it came out. Also scroll down and review 11 ways to save $11K in 2011. That one kills me. There is $5K - $10K per house right there in that PDF, and only a few people a week open it. (Paul will update that with the 12 for 12 in 12 I did this year.)
  • If you want to really learn this stuff, it is great to know the origins. Read “The Machine that Changed the World” by Womack “Lean Thinking” by Womack is also good, case-study based with a lot of company examples. Careful though, at the beginning he has as an example a builder in Texas that blew up. He had some good stuff going but from my perspective 10 years later, he missed a lot of essential Lean principles.
  • In the Lean Primer Department, “Lean for Dummies” is actually pretty well done and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide” to Lean isn’t bad either. Of course, you cannot let anyone in the office see you with those!
  • We just discovered “Everything I Know about Lean I Learned in First Grade.” It is actually quite good. All of the above are available on Amazon.com
  • If you want to get deeper, read Toyota Production System by Taichi Ohno. If you search Ohno, you will find a treasure trove of good stuff.
  • “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean” has perfect 5 star reviews on Amazon. I thought it was just OK, but again, everyone else loved it. I am probably just mad because I did not think of the title myself and write it. So I will recommend it!
  • Finally, sign up for the Lean Institute’s free newsletter. It is by Womack’s organization. He is one arrogant cuss, but I guess he has earned his place. He does not suffer fools gladly. Of course Dr. Deming, probably the #1 guru of all time, who I was blessed to get to know personally, was also arrogant and ornery, but I adored him.

Ryan, that should keep your busy! Let us know how it goes and feel free to use us as a resource, any time. (For everyone else, please email me if I can help you with any of these resources, as well.)

written by

Scott Sedam


Scott Sedam, president of TrueNorth Development (www.truen.com), spends most of his time working in the trenches with builders, suppliers and trade contractors. His Lean Builder blog appears weekly at HousingZone.com. He welcomes your feedback at scott@truen.com.

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