With LEAN, quality and quantity go hand in hand


KAEFER's Lean Journey

LEAN isn’t just an abstract concept at KAEFER, it’s a working way of life. As the quantity of LEAN projects increases, so does the quality of work, and with it, the growth, development, and job satisfaction of everyone in the company.

Sometimes it’s good to get a view from above to see how progress is being made. In the case of KAEFER’s Lean Journey, things look good from the cockpit: there were over 600 LEAN projects underway in 2021 with substantial growth seen in LEAN turnover coverage as well as an increase in Lean Leaders. But it’s not just about the quantity, when it comes to LEAN, the quality matters just as much.

Walking the walk and talking the talk

What does it mean to consider the LEAN quality of our organisation? “Simply put, it’s about the culture, the day-to-day work and our LEAN maturity,” explains Dr. Alexander Faber, Head of Corporate Operations Excellence. “In LEAN, there is a concept called ‘Gemba’. In Japanese, ‘Gemba’ means the actual place, the scene of an event. For business, this is where value is created, such as a construction site, an industrial facility or anywhere else where services are rendered. Management is encouraged to do a so-called ‘Gemba Walk’ to see the actual process, understand the work being done, ask questions and learn. This is one way in which we can gain an understanding of the LEAN quality of our organisation and determine where improvements can be made.”

KAEFER is regularly measuring the LEAN maturity ratio on our projects worldwide.

We can also assess how LEAN is practised in projects by considering our LEAN maturity ratio. This begins as local self-assessment on the part of the people managing the project and is then validated by local managers and Lean Leaders as well as Global Lean Trainers & Coaches who are external to the local organisation. Amongst others, the criteria for achieving a high maturity score include adhering to the four principles of LEAN:

  • Visual Controls: Tracking charts and other visual tools that reflect actual performance compared to expected performance and HSE KPIs of any process in a Lean operation
  • Daily / Weekly Accountability Process: Meetings which plan, prepare and review execution tasks, identify problems and improvement opportunities and follow-up on Lean improvement workshops/ PDCA experiments
  • Leader Standard Work: Establishes tasks which should be repeated on a regular basis (multiple times a day, daily or weekly), for all relevant leaders: Foremen, Supervisors, Site Managers, Project Managers and Accountable Line Managers
  • Discipline: Leaders themselves consistently adhere to and follow up on others’ adherence to the processes that define the first three elements. Leaders are role models at every given moment at work

These are just a few ways to look at LEAN and a high maturity score also involves implementing general efficiencies in workflows and projects as well as an awareness and willingness to implement LEAN principles amongst staff and management. To know how things stand at the moment, KAEFER is regularly measuring the LEAN maturity ratio on our projects worldwide. In the past years we could continuously improve our maturity score. However, the principle of LEAN is continuous improvement, and therefore the score will further increase in future.

LEAN is learning

LEAN is not a start-to-finish process. It’s ongoing and involves constant engagement, dialogue, introspection, discussion and learning. For example, KAEFER has established a global LEAN site management best practice platform. This is a SharePoint in which examples of LEAN in practice are collected from all over the world. There are images and project descriptions outlining how LEAN was implemented and how value was created, and waste was eliminated. The purpose for these examples is to serve as impulse and inspiration for others and also to use these cases as a benchmark with which to judge their own LEAN maturity assessment. This ties into not just the concept of continuous improvement, but also into the idea that LEAN is collaborative process, where people can learn from one another to grow.

People’s growth is KAEFER’s growth

In addition to taking inspiration and learning from others, KAEFER invests heavily in its Lean Development Programme. The emphasis is on waste identification, waste elimination and process standardisation. The target group of the ongoing training and coaching initiatives are managers, project managers, site managers, supervisors, foremen and operators worldwide. Globally they amount to a total of over 25,000 people. The heart of KAEFER´s Lean Journey is this Lean Development Programme, which is increasing job satisfaction and performance at the same time.

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