Conditions of Satisfaction
July 9, 2018
I was recently in a meeting with our people and they were celebrating the completion of steel ahead of schedule on a large project.
While I walked back to my office I passed the owner of the interior contractor who stopped me and said, “When are you going to be done with the steel? You’re killing my fireproofing operation.” “Hmmm”, I thought to myself, “How can this be?” How can it be that the same activity – completion of steel – elicits celebration from one group and complaints from another? Similarly, how many times has your project team told you they are done with a project, yet it takes months before the owner and the architect agree?
It happens because we too often fail to clearly define what success means. There are no metrics around the word done. It is too subjective. The way we avoid these miscommunications is to take the time to clearly identify the Conditions of Satisfaction of the project, all milestones and any task. Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS) are the criteria that define what success means. They are used to guide decision making and align the team around the project priorities.
On the project level, there can be many types of CoS, but there generally should always be a measure around safety, budget, schedule and quality. Additional examples of CoS can include (a) numbers of RFIs, (b) % of the right people attending meetings, or (c) number of pull plans executed. There is no right number of how many CoS a project should have, but all should be understood and agreed to by all project participants.
On the milestone level, such as building dry in, all of the parties who are impacted by this task should meet to define the conditions that define what completion means. “Building Dry In” may seem clear on its surface, but it can have multiple interpretations. Does it mean the envelope is completed, or simply that the sheathing is installed? Does it mean every window is in place, or simply that the openings will be covered? Are the copings on the parapet walls? Defining the precise CoS around each milestone is critical to uncover misunderstandings and disagreements on the subject.
It is widely understood that lean requires a culture of respect for people. There is no better way to show respect for individuals than taking the time to include them in the discussion about what work will be done and what work will follow, and gain their input into the plan. We all will be much more successful if we know what to expect.
Article by Joe Massaro, President and CEO of Massaro Construction Group