Revisiting the Five Big Ideas Transforming the Design and Construction Industry – A Blog Series

By 2010, the Five Big Ideas became the basis for a new kind of contract based on the relationships of the parties designing and building the project. So much has been learned since then.

Written by Touchplan | February 19, 2021

It was 2004. Sutter Health was faced with upgrading or replacing billions of healthcare facilities to comply with California’s seismic requirements. They were concerned that they wouldn’t have access to the architects, engineers, and constructors they needed because most other healthcare organizations were in the same boat. They set out to distinguish themselves by adopting Lean Construction (LC). They hired Greg Howell and me to introduce LC to their building community.

We designed an event for more than 100 people to introduce the principles and practices of LC. But, we knew that wasn’t enough. LC was about 12 years old at that time. Very few builders were practicing it. Fewer design firms had the experience. We also knew that the commonsense about the general practices in design and construction ran contrary to what it takes to succeed with LC. So we made a bold move. I authored a manifesto calling for the adoption of Five Big Ideas among the community of Sutter’s design and construction partners.

Those ideas are

  • Collaborate, really collaborate
  • Optimize the project as a whole
  • Tightly couple learning with action
  • Conduct the project as a network of commitments
  • Increase the relatedness of the project participants

Sutter and their partners signed the manifesto. We began experimenting based on those ideas and the Lean Construction principles and practices. While it was not all rosy, projects got better and better. By 2010, the Five Big Ideas became the basis for a new kind of contract based on the relationships of the parties designing and building the project. That contract was first known as an Integrated Form of Agreement. It’s now universally known as Lean Integrated Project Delivery (LIPD).

It’s been 11 years since I wrote the paper Putting the Five Big Ideas to Work to provide guidance on how to succeed with those ideas. 100’s of LIPD projects have been completed. So much has been learned. And, one big idea has been replaced! Over the next few weeks, friends, colleagues, and I will update our guidance via a series of weekly blog posts on bringing the five big ideas to life on your projects. Please engage with us as we share what we’ve learned.

For additional information on Lean best practices, check out Data-Driven Decisions Drive Better Project Management on our blog page. You can also see an example of Lean planning in action by reading our case study highlighting our work with Bond Construction at Lahey Hospital.

If you would like to revisit any of the posts from the Revisiting the Five Big Ideas series you can find all of them below.


Construction Technology, Lean Construction

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