Explaining a complex issue in a straightforward way is a management consultant’s value. Making the complex more so is not. Sometimes we see this. Additionally, taking something simple and making it a Gordian knot is what our politicians do, certainly a management consultant should not.
The goal of our firm is to keep its owner (me) mentally engaged in assisting contractors while providing for my loved ones. It is our informal mission statement. Not complex but then again, see the first paragraph.
What Stevens Construction Institute Inc. does is not a mystery, it shouldn’t be. We are not “cool” consultants. We are “good” consultants. Our heart is in this business for the correct reasons. We love it and we like to be helpful.
What is interesting is that all our clients are people of good character. We don’t work with anyone who is continuously angry, contemptuous or is a detriment to people around them. As you know, I don’t choose the clients, but I think the (point of the) previous paragraph helps (Yes, I have fired a couple over the years). However, all of our clients are good contractors and people.
What is also interesting, I don’t know why this is so, all of the construction firms we work with are first generation contractors. These established firms are not ones started by a previous generation and now are controlled by another one. Don’t ask me why but, I find it interesting.
One of our services is process improvment. Our consulting and subsequent documentation of process re-engineering is based on the Lean Approach. Again, no mystery. Lean works well when contractors and their staffs try to improve their business operations. As I don’t work as a technical building consultant, I strongly believe any business benefits from Lean. As in all models, it doesn’t fit our industry exactly, but it is the best. I don’t know of an equal.
If you have read any writings on Lean and you have read my book, Managing a Construction Firm on Just 24 Hours a Day, (McGraw Hill, 2007), you can see the parallels. When I wrote the book in 2005-2006, it was more intuitive and observation based from my years in construction. A few friends have suggested that the book “is the practical Lean approach to construction contracting”. Once I read all I could on Lean, I agree.
You are probably curious about one question: Yes, I bought a 2008 Toyota Tundra. How can you not be a fan of the company after you have read about Lean? I don’t sell for Toyota, I just love the truck. To appreciate this fully, you have to also know that both my grandfather and great grandfather were plant managers for General Motors. Yes, I believe in Lean.
More tangibly will be my 2009 book that will be my interpretation of Lean for construction contracting. Accordingly, we use established and well accepted tools in our consulting work. Effective ones such as Moveable Type, Tool Book, WebEx, Zoomerang, Constant Contact, DISC, Media Temple, Lombardi Blue Print, SecureWebs and the like. Less mystery for my clents. Remember, it is the content or knowledge that makes a consulting firm a value, not the presentation (sizzle). Addtionally, if (and when) I die, my clients can pick up where I left off. This is the spirit of Lean.
So look seriously at the Lean Approach, read all you can. You will find this is a tenured and established method. It has been vetted by some of the great business people in the world. It is decades old and it is effective. You can confidently apply it to your construction company as dozens of others successfully have before you. But, if you are looking for something new and cool, Lean is not for you.
More to the point, if you want to talk with a management consultant who can help apply it, I am a candidate. I hope you will appreciate my focus on making things less complex and less mysterious. Helpful but not cool.