Training Top 125 Best Practice: Gilbane Building Company’s Lean Practitioner Program

Lean Practitioner is designed as a blended learning solution with an evolutionary journey where the knowledge and experience of the participants work together to create a depth of expertise upon which they can keep building.

In 2015, Gilbane Building Company identified inefficiencies in its operations practices that impacted overall profitability for the company. Based on Toyota’s Lean Principles, Gilbane invested in implementing a streamlined process to reduce waste and promote efficiency companywide. Gilbane’s Lean Practitioner program is a core building block for its Scale Innovation and Superior Execution strategic goals. Gilbane’s goal is to have more than 50 Certified Lean Practitioners.

Program Details

A voluntary open enrollment program available to all employees across the company to improve their Lean techniques, Lean Practitioner is designed as a blended learning solution with an evolutionary journey where the knowledge and experience of the participants work together to create a depth of expertise upon which they can keep building. It weaves innovative ways of thinking and systematic problem solving to tackle day-to-day work obstacles and doing business with real-world applications. The Lean Practitioner program is directly overseen by one of Gilbane’s executive vice presidents. 

All employees at Gilbane are required to take Lean Fundamentals, a self-paced course focused on educating learners on the core foundations of Lean at Gilbane. Employees learn about the three goals of the company’s Lean initiatives, which are to: 

  • Reduce Waste
  • Respect People
  • Increase Value

Employees who wish to continue their Lean journey then can apply to the Lean Practitioner program.

Accepted participants into the program work one-on-one with a Lean coach to learn about advanced Lean principles such as A3 Thinking, Gemba, Root Cause Analysis, and more. As participants increase their Lean abilities, they are tasked with applying them. To complete the program, participants must utilize a variety of Lean techniques to accurately diagnose issues within their current workstreams and then identify and implement solutions. Throughout this phase, they consistently receive one-to-one coaching to examine their progress, guide them through new tools and techniques, and support implementation.

Participants leverage self-paced, in-person, self-study, job aids, mentor coaching, and peer collaboration training options to learn at their own pace and directly apply their learning to their role.

Previous Lean Practitioner graduates serve as peer coaches and spread the value they have achieved through their Lean practices. This long-term strategy creates a self-sustaining ecosystem where participants who have achieved real value from the training program assist new participants and each other as they continue to practice their Lean methodology.


To identify behavior change, each coach worked with participants throughout the process to ensure the methods taught within the program were implemented. In order to complete the program, participants must provide detailed work products showing the implementation of the tools and techniques. To date, more than 141 people have enrolled in the program, with 62 participants completing the program to become certified Gilbane Lean Practitioners.

Using Lean thinking, the company’s Lean Practitioners have achieved impressive results:

  • Five times reduction in missed handoffs, resulting in 100 percent of work done on time
  • 85 percent reduction in process steps, leading to improved speed of project closeout
  • Redesigned the company’s technology process, producing a 75 percent improvement in time required for field connections 
  • 64 percent reduction in defects helped to improve quality and turnaround time
  • 80 percent decrease in preparation time and improved engagement in meetings to focus on value

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