ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 3 - Issue: 30 - 07/25/2014

Changes Suggested for Boosting Construction Productivity

By Steve Rizer


Significant improvement in construction productivity does not simply require changes in willingness and ability at the crew level; it requires changes in leadership at every level, Michael Casten, founder of Construction Concepts, told professionals attending WPL Publishing’s “Traditional Productivity Improvement Techniques” webinar, a recording of which recently was added to the ConstructionPro Network ( Download Library free of charge for members.


“If you are serious about pursuing a significant improvement in productivity on your projects, keep in mind that there are some things that everybody in that organization is going to have to do,” Casten said. “This isn’t about motivating or training, improving the skill sets of a couple of craftsmen…. There are things that have to change in an organization that are cultural -- not technical -- kinds of things, and those are the ones that obviously take the longest.”


In making such a cultural change, “first of all, we all, from the top down, have to begin thinking about changing performance expectations, changing from output measures to process and input measures, changing from using the old rule of ‘If you’re making budget, everything must be wonderful’ to the expectation that each and every project is going to be better than the last one, and we’re going to continuously get better, and, in the process, we’re all going to learn from that,” Casten said. Performance expectations represent one of four changes in leadership that he recommends (see figure below).




“Additionally, there are changes required in behavior,” Casten said, noting that one component of such change involves accountability. “We seem to be very uncomfortable on many of our projects actually holding people accountable -- be they subcontractors, be they suppliers -- and the perception is that it is simply out of our control, and therefore our projects begin to take on the nature of some sort of a chaos model in which everything becomes unpredictable and unreliable because of a lack of holding people accountable.”


Casten also called for an end to bad habits that he sees occurring in projects. “There are habits that range from being comfortable if we’re making budget [to] walking through projects and spending maybe 25-30 seconds looking at the output of each and every crew and assuming that we know what’s going on there to the habits of sitting through endless discussions going on within meetings that oftentimes have nothing to do with 40-60 percent of the people in the room.”


Also during the webinar, Casten discussed the Input/Process/Output Model, PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) Cycle, Construction Operation Life Cycle, Construction Project Production System, among other things.


For immediate access to the complete webinar (full audio and visual) -- as well as more than three dozen other construction-related webinars that are available for download -- sign up to become a member of WPL Publishing’s ConstructionPro Network, a complete training, education, and development resource for the construction industry, at




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