September 24, 2019 STURGEON ELECTRIC EDUCATES THE INDUSTRY ON LEAN PRACTICES
OPERATIONS MANAGER USES LEGACY ‘ROCKS IN THE ROAD’ PROGRAM TO TEACH A3 THINKING
For more than three decades, Sturgeon Electric has used its “Rocks in the Road” program as a problem-solving activity to overcome communication and teamwork barriers on projects. But last month it was used to teach the implementation of lean thinking practices.
The program fosters collaboration among various participants early on, giving everyone an equal voice to share past successes, as well as potential obstacles. Then participants collectively develop root cause, action plans, and timelines to drive positive change.
George LaClaire, operations manager, has used this proactive planning tool capaciously, witnessing time after time how it strengthens relationships and aids project success. He has been instrumental in expanding its use and acceptance throughout Sturgeon Electric and externally with clients, owners, and other trade partners.
A strong advocate for Sturgeon Electric’s adaptation of lean practices, George has been integral to a cultural shift that has transformed the ways company employees perform, communicate, interact, and engage with each other. Lean practices include many tools and methodologies to eliminate waste and improve flow efficiencies, with the goal of being better tomorrow than you are today.
One lean approach is the use of “A3 Thinking:” a structured problem-solving and continuous improvement approach that provides a simple and strict procedure to guide problem-solving. George recognized that “Rocks in the Road” was an ideal process for implementing A3 thinking.
In late August, George conducted the “Rocks in The Road, An A3 Thinking Experience” workshop that was hosted by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) of Colorado at the Association of General Contractors (AGC) headquarters in Denver. He invited members of LCI and AGC to attend, with the goal of attracting a multi-disciplinary audience. The interactive workshop was well-received by 36 attendees representing a strong cross-section of construction professionals — ranging from architects, owners, and general contractors to mechanical and plumbing trade partners. Two Lean Construction Institute representatives also attended and are working with George to further develop “Rocks in the Road” into an approved LCI offering for other LCI communities of practice.