Collaboration Between Design-Build and Lean Construction

By Chris Hornbeck, AIA, AGC, MBA

This article also appears in Issue 3 of DBIA’s magazine, Integration Quarterly.

Chances are, if you’re in the design-build industry you’ve also encountered lean construction principles. The design-build and lean construction movements share many commonalities, going back to their roots in the Total Quality Management (TQM) revolution of the 1950s. It was noted then that design is the driver of almost all embedded and life-cycle costs. Th solution was to engage suppliers, manufacturing and assembly operations experts and users earlier in design.

Today, decades later, lean construction principles and the design-build delivery process still require a culture of team alignment, open communication and mutual respect among the project Owner, the architect/engineer and the contractor. The result is maximized value, minimized waste and improved outcomes.

venn diagram

Used individually, both lean tools/techniques and the Design-Build Done Right™ increase the chance of overall project and team success. Used together, however, opportunities for success, innovation and creativity are even greater, resulting in:

  • Maximized value, including first- and life-cycle costs, achieved through optimization of budgets;
  • Increased productivity, resulting in time savings and earlier project completion;
  • Increased owner satisfaction, including better quality, fewer change orders, reduced conflict, and the greater return on investment;
  • Increased likelihood of overall team success, including favorable profit margins and expanded team capacity for future projects; and
  • The appropriate management of risk, leading to a reduction in uncertainty, as well as enhanced transparency and collaboration.

Together, the combination of Design-Build Done Right™ and lean concepts can further enhance the AEC industry by maximizing success and improving project outcomes.

Chris Hornbeck is the Director of Construction Services at the University of California and a DBIA National Board Director.