A challenging mindset to overcome when empowering construction workers.
Imagine that you are an assembly line worker in the days of Henry Ford. You work in an environment where throughput is king. In other words, keep the production line moving at any cost. If you cause the line to stop for any reason, you get fired.
Fast forward to 1995. Ford, having learned a thing or two from Toyota, which ironically, had previously gotten their start by copying from Henry Ford, institutes Lean Manufacturing in order to instill a culture of continuous improvement through employee empowerment. For the first time, anyone is empowered to stop the production line if they see something wrong.
Imagine for a moment what that was like for the newly empowered workers. Not having been there personally, I can only assume that the collective response to this new initiative can be summed up in two words “Yeah, right.” One day, you can lose your job for gumming up the works. The next day, you’ve got full braking rights.
Construction personnel have the same quality rights as the Henry Ford-era workers. In construction, the schedule has the same “Golden Calf” status as Ford’s assembly line. Impede it at your own peril.
One day, the age of enlightenment will reach construction. Hopefully, I’ll get a front row seat to hear the very first empowered construction workers say those historic words: “Yeah, right.”