Consultancy & Technology: A Recipe for Success

Learn more about Touchplan’s new partner Project 7, a leading Lean transformation & leadership consultancy, and how we plan to work together to collaboratively challenge the performance culture within the construction industry and address the imbalance in construction productivity.

Written by Dave Finnegan | February 3, 2022

Touchplan recently formed a collaboration with Project7, a leading Lean transformation & leadership consultancy, to work together to collaboratively challenge the performance culture within the construction industry and address the imbalance in construction productivity. We sat down with Partner Daniel Shakespeare to learn more about Project 7 and the value of partnering with Touchplan.

Tell us a little more about Project7? What are you all about, and what is your value to the market?

One thing that stands out for us is that we understand Lean as a ‘thinking way’ first and foremost, and everything we do is grounded in the core principles founded through the Toyota Production System over many years. Over recent years, Lean consultancy has almost become a commodity service. Larger consultancies have latched onto Lean as a trend, but in my experience, they often lack the deep domain knowledge required as they see Lean simply as a set of tools & techniques.

What’s unique about Project7 is that we’ve earned our stripes delivering transformational change for businesses globally and understand what it takes to embed and deliver real impact for our clients.

We have deployed our Lean ‘thinking way’ and its tools and techniques on the ground on construction sites, manufacturing plants, and complex operational & transactional environments and influenced the people who make the actual change. We often have clients come to us, and they want an ‘out of the box’ Lean transformation and don’t understand the components involved to accomplish such heights. We like to think of ourselves as consultants with teeth, as we work closely with our clients to help them understand that Lean is not a two-year transformation but a never-ending journey of Continuous Improvement.

So what’s the reaction from Project7 clients to this kind of real, grounded approach?

A large part of our legacy is that our clients continue to reach out to us to either seek further support for a different part of their business or reach out to share the progress they have made in their Lean journey since working with us. The majority of the work we’ve generated is from engaging with prominent organizations with big reputations and sizable business challenges and doing excellent work for them. We often find that our business relationships will naturally move on in their career, perhaps to another company or to a different country within that same organization. These relationships repeatedly come back to us because they know we do a fantastic job and recognize the benefit of applying our ‘thinking way.’

What resonates with clients is that our results are sustainable. We strive to deliver the most significant ROI in the shortest possible lead time, with a minimal amount of invention.

We understand that organizations already have the talent and power to impact change in their business; it just needs us to unlock it for them.

We enjoy helping clients find that spark for Lean. We do this via our P7 Thinking Way, a structured methodology designed to create the habitual behaviors, systems, and processes required for a sustainable Lean transformation. Our model allows us to leave our clients to become self-reliant. We don’t want clients to be dependent upon us in perpetuity, we want to hand over the responsibility of their Lean journey to them, and I think they like that.

So, it’s like you are giving them their Lean independence?

Absolutely! Lean independence is what we want for them. You’re never going to become a Lean organization if you’ve got a group of consultants on-site permanently coaching your teams. We want to work with an organization and embed the foundation principles, systems, and behaviors, enabling that organization to flourish independently.

A recent example, we worked with a large-scale aerospace organization. We helped them establish their Lean Operating System and Organizational Maturity benchmarking at one of their European sites, experiencing poor productivity and system performance. After we had finished, they became one of the highest performing air operators in continental Europe. The turnaround had folks in Germany and France looking over continental Europe, saying, “what’s happening over there?” so it’s a great success story.

Since then, we’ve been invited back to see how they’ve continued their journey since we’ve left and how they’ve still taken the same principles that we deployed, but they’ve evolved and continuously improved over time. The improvement is what we love to see. It affirms the value of establishing those founding principles, coaching Leaders and teams, and building the foundations step by step so they achieve Lean independence and continually improve thereafter.

You mentioned how when contacts move on to another organization, they reach back out to you, but do you feel that perhaps there is an appetite in the market where organizations will start seeking you out directly?

We certainly recognize that relying solely on referral business is not entirely sustainable. We’ve generated an excellent reputation so far; however, we want to build upon that success and share it with new clients and markets. Project7 has generated more than £414 million of client cost savings, and we want to share that good news story with new clients so they can benefit from our expertise.

We grow our reputation across different industries and different clients. While our success has primarily occurred with the Manufacturing and Operational sectors, we have had some notable success in Construction, namely, on the renowned major programme, Crossrail in London. There are undoubtedly growth opportunities in the Infrastructure market. With the challenges the industry is currently facing with Brexit, Covid-19, and the climate emergency, to name but a few, we want to position ourselves well to support and impact real change.

Talk to me about the motivation and the value Project7 saw in partnering with Touchplan?

I have been fortunate enough to use Touchplan as a frontline worker, Lean Coach, and now as a Partner. Because of that, I’ve seen first-hand the value Touchplan brings to construction sites in terms of increased transparency, visibility and productivity improvements, reliability improvements, and ultimately transferring ownership and accountability from schedulers and Project Managers down to the teams.

From my perspective, ‘those who do the work have to be able to plan the work.’ To create candid performance dialogue and integrated high performance, I want teams to embrace a digital system that connects them with the correct information daily and drives the right performance behaviors.

At Project7, we believe that supporting ordinary people to operate a robust process delivers extraordinary high-performance levels. The 3P model is the foundation of much of what we do, and I think Touchplan tries to achieve precisely the same thing. I think Touchplan connects with people. It digitizes an already industry-known process [The Last Planner System®], seeking to create high performance. We both work with and coach people to achieve exceptional performance. For that reason, Project7 and Touchplan couple together nicely. I’m excited about the value we can bring to our clients. Touchplan’s ability to digitally augment our existing capabilities and for Project7 to trust and rely upon software such as Touchplan is a marriage made in heaven.

Do you think your clients outside the construction realm could benefit from using Touchplan?

Absolutely. Project7 has three primary Market Verticals. We have our Infrastructure [Design and Build] Vertical headed up by myself. We have a Manufacturing and Operations Vertical, led by our CEO, Gareth Lewis, whose background is with the Toyota Motor Corporation. Finally, we have our Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul Vertical, led by one of our Partners, James Purse. James similarly has a background in Automotive and recently led major Rail service transformations and manufacturing operational excellence.

We deliberately designed those Verticals to have a degree of synergy across the piste. For example, we want to support an Owner organization in the efficient and productive Construction of a new asset. Equally, we are geared to help their extended downstream manufacturing supply chain to bolster manufacturing throughput and enable Just In Time production. Finally, we would want to engage that same organization during the lifecycle of that asset through optimized process efficiency, asset reliability, and reducing operational waste. We aim to deliver through-life value for our clients and achieve an end to end Value Stream optimization.

Regards deploying Touchplan in other environments, manufacturers, operators, and service organizations constantly need to plan and schedule workflows. They need to be an effective mechanism to connect with their teams and plan in real-time. There’s absolutely value that Touchplan can bring to those environments. Ultimately, what we do with our performance management approach is create a social mechanism for candid performance dialogue, visual performance management, and leadership coaching. We can plug Touchplan into any environment as long as we have that honest performance dialogue. There’s a real value there for sure.

From your perspective, what does five years down the road look like for Project7?

For me, I want to establish a foothold in the infrastructure market. I’m incredibly confident that we have value to bring this sector and unlock the productivity challenges many organizations face. I think there is a considerable opportunity more broadly across all of our Markets for Project7 to be the household name that clients can trust to take them on their Lean journey.

For more information on Touchplan’s partner program, please visit our Partner Progam Website.

Lean Construction, Partnerships, Planning/Lean Best Practice

Dave Finnegan

Dave Finnegan Dave Finnegan oversees Touchplan's content marketing program including its social media and blog content.