Turn Lessons Learned Reports Into Your Continuous Improvement Engine
Lessons learned reports are common practice in the construction sector. It always makes sense to reflect on what went well and what could have gone better, and then capture those lessons for future projects. But how often do those lessons get applied in practice?
To make the learning as relevant as possible and provide solid, practical experiences that can be applied to future projects you need continuity. Otherwise, you risk resetting the learning process at the start of each new project.
It’s even harder to apply lessons if the next project involves different partners, using different methods and working in different ways. Many of the opportunities identified to improve quality, deliver projects faster and reduce costs can’t be applied because so much about the project is different.
Make Lessons Easy to Apply
The point here is that improvement suggestions don’t have to be huge to deliver a significant impact on cost and performance over time. It’s a case of nurturing a partnership environment and continuity of process so that it’s easy to capture and apply what has been learned – even when the improvements don’t seem that significant at the time.
Innovaré has delivered a series of education projects in collaboration with Mid Group over several years. This isn’t a traditional tier 1/tier 2 relationship. It’s a partnership that’s always live and active right from pre-procurement. Everyone has a lot of shared knowledge and experience of the product (i-SIP and i-FAST) that can be quickly brought to bear for each new project.
Changing Outcomes Without Changing the World
Through small, incremental improvements, the development costs of our collaborative projects per m2 have barely changed over six years, despite inflationary pressures. At the same time, the energy performance of the buildings we create has improved significantly. Much of this progress has been made by applying exactly the kind of minor product and process tweaks that get overlooked in the project-by-project mentality.
Partnership working is also the best way to realise the full potential of modern building methods. A contractor with limited experience of offsite methods will often run their own procurement process along traditional lines: evaluate two or three different approaches to project execution before choosing a partner. But the full benefits of offsite methods are delivered by working differently and applying the product mindset much earlier in the process.
Imagine having a lessons learned meeting when all of the people involved know that they’ll be working together on the next project or maybe are already doing so. And that everyone has a stake in sharing ideas and experiences as openly as possible. Wouldn’t that shake things up a bit and drive real continuous improvement?