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Case History 1: A Successful Peer-to-Peer Superintendents Learning Group

By Dan Fauchier

For over two years now, my friends and colleagues, Adam Hoots and Buddy Brumley, have been organizing and facilitating “Old Dawg Real Field Talks”, twice monthly virtual meeting of superintendents and a couple of trade foremen proposing topics of interest, voting on them, and then discussing the “winners” in depth. It’s similar to a Lean Coffee format, but the group is really a great example of peer-to-peer learning.

Does it work?

Judge for yourself from samples of two years of feedback in the participants’ Plus/Deltas:

  • This group is amazing.
  • It’s really great we’re going through the same things, and experiencing the same challenges.
  • Everyone had something to share on at least one topic.
  • Communication is the key to learning (listening).
  • Communication discussion was on point. So much gold!
  • Format continues to rock! Solving problems in real time.
  • You make me feel welcome.
  • Having a trade partner participate, in addition to the superintendents – important perspective!
  • The hour goes by too quickly, not recommending longer, just pointing out a positive.
  • Feedback to the GC’s from the trade partners.
  • The GC’s on the call need more self-awareness.
  • The discussion on managing a struggling employee (what is the issue?) And the chart and delegation podcast link are great tools. [They tie in video.]
  • This meeting gives us hope that Lean is spreading through the industry.
  • 2030 Superintendent skills conversation was super interesting.
  • It is educational to connect with people across the country!
  • Let’s explore deeper what it means to “do” lean versus “being” lean. Tools versus the mindset and intention.
  • There is no other group like this!

Examples of Topics Discussed

  • What is the first thing you would do when taking over a project that is near the finish line, stagnate, poor communication and zero Lean.
  • How do we help develop successful habits with trade partners?
  • When Leading through change how do you make it sticky?
  • What’s your advice on projects that have already been going for a few months and trying to implement Daily Huddles/ Last Planner®?
  • Are you standardizing Lean across your company and how?
  • How are we separating the person from the process in tough situations?
  • What is the worst part about lean?
  • What skills will the 2030 Superintendent need to have in order to be successful?
  • How to deal with a Superintendent who says all the right things and then doesn’t do anything??
  • How do you educate, encourage, and develop inclusion on site?
  • What are some creative ways to boost morale and make trade partners feel that they are valued when morale and perceived value is in the….crapper?
  • How do you address a super who is trying to adopt lean, but not yet showing respect for people in his actions?
  • What are the most important factors when attempting to implement lean principles on your construction site?

This confirms what Kelly Palmer and David Blake in the Harvard Business Review found, “Peer-to-peer learning … taps into the expertise that already exists in your organization and … is also uniquely well suited to the way we learn. People gain new skills best in any situation that includes all four stages of what we call the “Learning Loop”: gain knowledge; practice by applying that knowledge; get feedback; and reflect on what has been learned. [The classic PDCA cycle.] Peer-to-peer learning encompasses all of these.”

This Old Dawg superintendents group illustrates the truth of that observation every two weeks, month after month.

Find the Harvard Business Review report here: https://hbr.org/2018/11/how-to-help-your-employees-learn-from-each-other

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