How to Stay Lean and Continue Effective Pull Planning While We Hunker Down.

These are uncomfortable and highly uncertain times.  We are experiencing unprecedented and difficult circumstances on our projects and in our lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Tough decisions are being contemplated and extraordinary measures are being wisely taken to keep ourselves and society safe.

Let’s remain faithful to our proven Lean beliefs that we are better when pulling together, and refrain from solving these unusual and challenging problems in isolation with band-aids or shortcuts.  We must continue to find ways to work together to create solutions that will keep our planning (and projects) productive, while we practice social distancing.

Due to the hands-on nature of our work, and unlike other industries in today’s modern world, we have been slower to embrace remote working as well as ensuring emergency communications plans detail this strategy – should it be our safest option as it currently is. But we must look forward, keep our relationships solid through tough times and appreciate what technology does have to offer us – the opportunity to stay connected, on track and progress despite unanticipated challenges.

To that end, we are writing to remain of loyal service to you and to share what some UW clients and others are experimenting with during these rapidly changing and unsettling times.

Here’s a bulleted list of things we are witnessing or hearing about on other projects that we might discuss for you to consider applying to your projects:

  • Roll one trade (one on one) at a time through the bare necessities of Pull Planning (PP) in the Big Room
  • Transferring the data from the PP boards and associated logs to a Commitment Log (spreadsheet) to be monitored and reviewed from multiple remote locations
  • Remote working and the move toward embracing video conferencing and group calls
  • Place non-mission critical projects on “pause” or reconfigure “work-spaces”
  • Temporarily canceling or suspending all non-mission critical projects

It’s important to establish contingency plans by using these and other temporary countermeasures.  We need to demonstrate and maintain a strong continuity of leadership, workmanship and remain unified as we strive to maintain a Lean course.

Please be aware that experience has taught us “Leaners” that it is quite difficult to reproduce the efficient planning, team building and predictable workflow that is directly linked to Pull-Planning without the face-to-face collaboration that is developed and nurtured in a Big Room using The Last Planner System.  Missing are the critical elements of linguistic action made possible only by individual contact and our senses.  It’s the magic human element that turns solemn words or promises, made eye-to-eye into productive, accountable, and reliable commitments.  For this, there is truly no substitute.

We relish the chance to discuss and expand alternative planning approaches until such time as the impacts of the virus are behind us.  Please contact us when time allows if you wish to discuss this further.


Thank you. Peace. God bless you and stay well,

Your Friends and Partners at Unified Works, Inc.