Posts Tagged ‘residential construction’

Social Media for Recognition and Retention – Part 2

March 27, 2009

In part 1 of this topic I discussed the benefits of sharing your crews’ success stories with the world through social media. Below is a brief outline of the sequence of social media events that a project manager/principle can use to highlight the work of his or her crew:

  1. On a site walk you learn of your superintendent’s amazing effort to rally together with the rebar sub in order to satisfy a city inspector and keep the project moving forward.
  2. Shake the super’s hand and get a photo of him and anyone else involved in the game-saving event.
  3. You immediately grab your blackberry and post a 140-character message to Twitter praising the super by name for a job well done.
  4. Upon returning to the office you write a short description (1-2 paragraphs) of the story (scrubbed of any proprietary information of course) and post it to your blog along with the photo.
  5. Post another announcement on Twitter including a link to the blog post and kudos to the super for job well done.
  6. Write a more lengthy description (2 -4 paragraphs) of the accomplishment including quotes from the super and possibly the client to reinforce the impact on the project.
  7. Send an email to the whole company with a link to the recognition web page and the blog post, where peers can add their own notes of congratulations.

Billy’s Journey

February 16, 2009

A recent conversation with a quality manager from a major general contractor brought this cartoon immediately to mind.  You see, this poor chap was under the delusion that he could simply walk from his desk to a condo unit to check the fit of the refrigerator and then walk back.  The time required to complete his journey: 2 hours!

family-circus-billy-pathAt every turn, the quality manager was beckoned by a information-starved  sub contractor with a question.  Each question began innocently enough.  “Got a minute?” they would ask.  But after a dozen or so of these, his 10 minute walk turned into a 2 hour journey.

My take on Billy’s journey:

  1. Ground-level direction leaves a lot to be desired.
  2. Tradespeople want to do a good job for their clients, but don’t always have sufficient information to do so.
  3. If chance encounters with roaming managers are how trade questions get answered, then I bet a fair number of trade questions go un-answered.

Project quality suffers in all cases.

Building Airplanes vs. Building Buildings – Part 2 (Inspection and Monitoring)

June 10, 2008

Workers assembling a 747 follow detailed process instructions that combine visual images and text to direct the installation of every component. Inspection is exhaustive (100% for critical systems.)

Process monitoring is comprehensive and accomplished in real time to enable rapid correction in order to minimize the amount of disassembly necessary to access the rework area (sound familiar construction folks?)

Again, the contrast in construction is obvious when it comes to inspection and monitoring. Inspection schedules often conflict with building schedules, often resulting in a lag that can lead to delays (as crews wait for inspectors to catch up,) multiple occurrences of the same defect or worse yet, potentially covering defective installations as time-crunched general contractors decide that they can’t wait for inspectors.

Building Envelope Defect-in-Progress

Monitoring (and data recording) in construction is haphazard. So much so, that if there is an indication that there are multiple instances of an error in construction, the only way to clear suspect installations is to physically inspect them. That is, if they’re not already buried in concrete.

Building Airplanes vs. Building Buildings – Part 1 (Mozart vs. Phish)

June 10, 2008

If you’re in construction, believe it or not, you’re in manufacturing too. Although, your product cycle can be quite short (one piece per cycle, in the case of a multi-story tower) there are some amazing comparisons that can be made when examining the construction of $200 million building versus a $200 million airplane.

Commercial airplanes such as the Boeing 747 provide an interesting comparison with skyscrapers in terms of unit cost, complexity, lead time and scale. The one glaring difference is in the methods used to direct and monitor the assembly process. To draw a crude analogy in musical terms, building a commercial airliner is like performing Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, while building a 40-story tower is like jamming at a Phish show. One is a precise, tightly controlled process that produces beautiful music, while the other follows a loose, organic happening that can also produce beautiful music.

However, in reality the music of a jam band can suffer dramatically if one of the players is having an off night. And without a “conductor” to bring that individual player quickly back in line, an individual error can quickly propagate to ruin the song.

Workers on a construction site can suffer from the occasional off day as well. The difference is that an off day in construction can cost a few million bucks.