Channeling W. Edwards Deming

A thought crossed my mind today — that I am channeling W. Edwards Deming to my industry: construction.  I realized that I am more interested in the creation of quality process improvements, value add and working with people than directly in the creation of a good Building Information Model.  A friend in Vietnam explained quality to me: “meet the requirements”.  That’s all it is.  And I am working on a project that currently has a poor safety record: Same answer: “meet the requirements”.  So it can be measured and graded, just like school work, and it can be “Six Sigma”:

F — failure to meet the requirements (One sigma — 31 % passing)

D — almost meeting the requirements (Two sigma — 69% passing)

C (A-) — meet the requirements (3 sigma –93.3% passing)

B (A)– exceed the requirements (4 sigma 99. 3% pass)

A ++++ — delight the customer (5 sigma –99.97% pass)

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, stay in business and to provide jobs.  Give the client the best job on budget, ahead of schedule and meeting or exceeding the requirements (faster, better, cheaper). Not two out of three, but all three concurrently.  I know it can be done because I have seen it done.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.  LEAN management is not command and control management.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.  Meet the requirements in an ongoing way.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.  This is not done in construction today much, mostly price-based selection.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.  Each job is unique, and no lessons are learned due to turnover of subcontractors and staff.  No feedback into the system.
  6. Institute training on the job.  Construction is trained by by people without training.
  7. Institute leadership The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.  This requires true communication.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute with leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals. Instead substitute with leadership.
  12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia,” abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (See Ch. 3 of “Out of the Crisis”).
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.


How does an A3 report relate to BIM?

I posted a couple of discussions on two sites that I have a prototype A3 report.  I received a large number of inquiries asking for a copy of the A3 report.  How does this relate to BIM and 3D modeling?

That’s a good question.  An A3 is a simple way to describe a problem to solve.  An A3 report is in the suite of “LEAN tools” that developed from the work of Deming and others.  BIM is a tool to solve a complex construction program.  The A3 is an excellent starting point for asking the question “what problem is BIM solving?”  By asking a question about what the Owner values, it is possible to identify the opportunity for successful use of BIM.


A3 and the Scientific Process

Generic A3 Report Format for IDEAS (c 2011-Thomas Hartmann)

Here is an A3 or 11×17 report format for creating a problem statement for an experiment or process improvement.  There are embedded Scientific Process (LEAN approach) and DMAIC (Six Sigma approach) graphics in the A3. These visuals are to assist with the thinking steps in developing an A3.  There are lots of other A3 templates out there.  If you adopt, adapt or use the “A3 Ideas” template, please credit me — Thomas Hartmann.  Have fun!

BIM 2010:Survival and Forward Thinking

Does BIM need to become part of a survival strategy for consultants and builders?  I read that unemployment is 30 percent in construction,  so many of the professionals are leaving, and probably are never coming back.  And age is the other issue, the senior staff costs too much for their experience.  What, when you can get two-for-one highly technically trained BIM wizards for the cost of one fossil.

So if you can get BIM help and can move the business forward, that’s certainly the goal.

Standard Connections

In my engineering firm we developed a set of connection standards to address a variety of steel framing conditions.  I published this and repeatedly cleaned up any RFI’s that were generated.  This is an example of “LEAN improvement” to an engineering process.  About 90% of typical commercial building connections are covered, both welded and bolted connections.

First Sheet (24x36)

First Sheet of Standard Connections (24×36) format

This second sheet is a continuation from the first sheet.   These two sheets work together on a project.  The connection types are developed from the flow chart to ensure that the design intent is met.  A full-depth single-angle connection is the philosophical starting point to simplify the number of beam types for a typical project.   Using 7/8″ diameter bolts, full depth, generally matches capacity for a 100 psf floor live loading with about 50 psf dead loading.  Great for commercial work.  For residential projects, you can use 3/4″ bolts.

Second Sheet (24x36)

Second Sheet of Standard Connections (24×36) format

1st Quarter 2010 BIM Strategy

Most design and build firms are experiencing a work slowdown, so this is a good time to begin using staff to investigate the value of BIM to the firm and incorporate this as part of a process improvement.  Designers (e.g. architects and engineers) have a different “use case” for BIM than builders do.   Designers: presentation to Owners, marketing efforts, document preparation, coordination, etc..  Builders: Yes, coordination (and clash detection), marketing presentation to Owners, communication with field crews, layout and planning, staging, cost-control, etc.  The use depends on the tools selected, and each industry may have different answers.  Post a question if you want some insight into softwasre selection.

LEAN Powerpoint: A Tribute to Anchor Bolts

Here is a link to download the Powerpoint on “LEAN applied to Engineering: A Tribute to Anchor Bolts”.  I suggest that you read this first to understand LEAN philosophy.  Then, the anchor bolt PDF will make a bit more sense.   I can also send you the DWG file. 

Here is the Powerpoint saved in PDF format:

Toyota Way adapted to Anchor Bolts

Here is a link to download the drawing file in PDF format.  Please contact me directly at for the Autocad Drawing File.  You can download the Anchor Bolt Drawing PDF at the link below:

Here is a JPG Graphic of the Anchor Bolt Drawing



I used LEAN to improve my office productivity.  I measured a 30% productivity increase with my staff during the implementation phase.  I would call LEAN a philosophy of improvement, and I am developing a workshop to teach LEAN, combined with BIM implementation, to consulting engineering and architecture firms.  Let me know if you are interested in this; contact me at and mention your interest in the “LEAN Workshop”.