Project Owner’s Perspective: Lessons from a Lean BIM experiment

Session synopsis

As project owners, we are interested in the bottom line. The triple bottom line, in fact. As owners, we know BIM and Lean ought to improve our triple bottom line – but where do we begin? How do we take the first step? How do we practice, and how do we learn? What will we “risk” to learn? The vast majority of BIM conversations seem to be in the domain of the high-flying unicorn projects — projects demanding state-of-the-art technology, projects that seem to be very complex or very large and always, very important. In this colorful unicorn space it is easy to justify the cost and “risk” of BIM and BIM adoption, and all the supporting energy around it. In the current economic and industry climate, there doesn’t seem to be any more fat for “risky” adoptions and fancy tools. However, there are currently two big dilemmas. First, the vast majority of projects are not unicorns. Most projects are boring, grunting, grey and dull mule – and there is an unspoken assumption that mules don’t deserve the “investment” from fancy practices. Second, there is a great misunderstanding that BIM needs to be technically comprehensive before it is useful. We want to challenge these assumptions — can we teach a mule a new trick? Can we turn all projects into thoroughbreds instead? So we built a very simple experiment. We want to find out: how do we compare traditional construction practices to integrated Lean BIM practices in very simple and direct ways? What happens when you can’t afford or understand The Tech but need you really want to do BIM? Can BIM behaviors translate benefits directly to your bottom line — regardless of access to technology, or if your team is not very mature in Lean or BIM? How small can our experiments be, how fast can we learn and train other people too? What do we need to learn to make Lean BIM a industry standard practice? In this talk, we explore two approaches on a small and simplistic project to determine what is useful, what is in the way, what good Lean BIM behaviors are and how Lean BIM behaviors can impact project planning, execution, and costs in a direct way. Ewan de Klerk from Pakisa Dynamic Engineering and Calayde Davey from Lean Built Environment Afrika discuss a real-time learning experiment on a small construction project. They compare two project delivery approaches, (resource efficient BIM versus flow efficient BIM) and show the difference between traditional and new practices to improve project delivery and drive out waste.

Why should people attend?

In this talk, we explore two approaches on a small and simplistic construction project space to determine what is useful, what is in the way, what good Lean BIM behaviors are and how Lean BIM behaviors can impact project planning, execution, and costs for owners in a direct way. The vast majority of private projects are smaller in nature, (and the likelihood of that trend continuing for some time), and the great majority of industry practitioners and project owners do not have access to full BIM projects, experiences or project histories at all. It is important to explore the most common application Lean BIM concepts and practices in real time in simple terms. It is also important to humanize the process, and allow project owners and managers to get comfortable with new things and see how to take a first step themselves — at any project scale, and at any project phase. It is important for our industry to get comfortable with smaller experiments frequently and incrementally allow the adoption of mature Lean BIM behaviors to emerge. Regardless of scale or time, we need to get good at this stuff now. In this talk we articulate the exact practices that informed the decisions on the project, show the variations in outcome and discuss the learning from a small construction project space.




  • Calayde Davey
    Calayde Davey
    Doctor - Regen50 Urban Strategy

    Calayde holds a PhD Environmental Design, Economics & Planning and
    Masters in Architecture. She has worked internationally in architecture, real
    estate development, Lean construction management, corporate strategy,
    urban planning and policy development.

    Calayde has worked in the role of project architect on high-rise projects in
    South-East Asia, and Lean facilitator for the world’s largest Passive House
    (90% energy efficient) residential project in the United States

    She is Managing Partner and co-author of “Mastering Lean Leadership” and
    “Mastering Kaizen” with Hal Macomber.


Oct 26 2020

Event types

Case study


  1. Thanks Calayde for the very insightful presentation, I look forward to hearing how this project handles handover in a similarly robust manner to the eventual operator in part 2. 🙂