Ted Garrison Interview with Mike Sullivan ♦

The benefits of pre-planning are often difficult to understand because the error or problem occurs many months later. Proper pre-planning, for example, can have a major impact on safety. Typically, materials are moved an average of 4.5 times before they are installed. When you consider that a worker is 3 times more likely to be injured moving materials than actually installing it, it is easy to understand how pre-planning reduces injuries by better scheduling the deliveries of materials.

According to Mike Sullivan, Forbes Magazine reports that the average contractor operates on margins of only 1.5 to 3 percent. In the current market these numbers are dropping even further. This has resulted in contractors struggling to cover their overhead, never mind make a profit.

“Our study that we have done internally and participated in externally has indicated there are great many mistakes that occur on jobs and that these mistakes are directly or indirectly related to poor pre-planning,” reports Sullivan.

Studies by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) have found that over 50 percent of the tasks assigned every week on a non-lean construction project don’t finish on time. Sullivan and Weitz Company are familiar with the Last Planner System developed by LCI. In fact they started a pilot program back in 2006 to see if the Last Planner would fit into their culture. The result was they instituted a companywide policy in 2008 to implement Last Planner on all Weitz’s projects from that point forward.

The Weitz Company found that their projects had about a 50 percent success rate of completed tasks on a weekly basis, but when the Last Planner process is instituted the number quickly jumps to around 85 percent. “This has a dramatic impact on the productivity on the project,” declares Sullivan.

Sullivan says that they often hear people complain they don’t have time to pre-plan because they need to get started. He explains that what these people are telling you is that appearing to be busy is more important than planning the work. He adds, “We see that work without a plan will always lead to rework, which has a tremendous negative impact on productivity, safety and quality on projects.”

To hear Mike Sullivan’s entire discussion on how pre-planning can benefit your projects and company, listen to his full interview at www.jackstreet.com/JackStreet/WCON.SullivanM2.cfm.

–by Ted Garrison

Ted Garrison, president of Garrison Associates, is a catalyst for change. As a consultant, author and speaker he provides breakthrough strategies for the construction industry by focusing on critical issues in leadership, project management, strategic thinking, strategic alliances and marketing. Contact Ted at 800-861-0874 or Growing@TedGarrison.com.
Further information can be found at www.TedGarrison.com.

Mike Sullivan is currently at McKinsey & Company, where he is their expert on Capital Productivity Practices where he assists clients with various aspects of productivity improvement and strategic planning. At the time of the interview he was the Vice President of Operational Excellence at the Weitz Company, a national full-service general contractor, design-builder and construction manager.