This is a bi-weekly publication of a four-part series investigating the potential lessons that the Cannabis industry can learn from Lean Manufacturing. Anderson Porter Design has an extensive background in Lean Design and Lean Construction Management: Principal Brian Anderson co-founded the Lean Construction Institute New England Community of Practice, which Dan Anderson currently leads, and several team members are certified as Lean Construction Managers through the AGC of MA.


[ How can an Architect help you identify and reduce some of the “eight forms of waste“? ]

Architects can help you define the scope of your project by first developing the Owner’s Program Requirements (OPR).  This essential step is a data-collection mission that ultimately results in an in-depth programming document. The OPR includes requirements for spaces, use adjacencies, equipment (i.e. power needs, cooling, lighting, security, acoustics, equipment), all types of processes defined by stakeholders (grow consultants, security specialists, extraction experts, engineers, employees, etc.)

Other input should also be considered at this stage from team members such as investors, board of directors, facility managers, etc. All of these stakeholders’ requirements must be defined in advance in order to increase efficiency in the design of space, systems, and to prevent the “waste” of repeating or re-constructing the project due to oversights and omissions. Once understood and documented, these values and objectives can be tied to the program to assure the success of the project. By defining your program prior to engaging an architect (or working with your Architect to develop this document) you can ensure that your design team has a thorough understanding of your processes, and that your facility is designed without wasting time and resources. 

One of the most overlooked forms of waste is the one often mentioned last: Skills. Not engaging your employees, stakeholders, vendors and partners – essentially, your human capital – can leave members of your team dissatisfied, and your production process operating at a sub-optimal level. This idea of engaging your human capital also applies to your consultants and the members of your design team.

Often, projects are designed prior to having all the information and without full input from the entire team. As our partner Brian Anderson is fond of saying – design in advance of information is waste.’

The following hypothetical situations are examples of one type of waste (untapped talent) leading to another type of waste (defects or rework):

  • Design is completed prior to thorough assessment of the existing conditions. Demolition exposes conditions within the building that require a revised design to be developed. Back to the drawing board.
  • A cultivation facility is designed through a partnership with client and architect, without input from civil and mechanical engineers. Once engaged, the engineers identify the need for significant outdoor space for mechanical equipment. Back to the drawing board.
  • A Chief Cultivator and Extraction Lab Operator are not hired until after construction of a facility is complete. The facility is not designed to optimize their workflow, and they insist that the facility and equipment be updated. Back to the drawing board.

Typically, most of these errors or oversights can be addressed by starting the design process with a thorough and clearly defined program, which is one of the pillars of integrating Lean practices into the design and construction process.

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