Posted by: JC Gatlin | July 7, 2010

PDCA of the Month – “Open Sewer Trenches” – June 2010

This PDCA shows a good example of “counter measure” vs. “solution.” Counter Measure #2 (which has the grader fill-in the trench) is exactly that — a counter measure. It’s balancing the home building process with a market condition and removing a wasted trip for the plumber. But it’s not a “solution,” which implies permanency. As the housing market improves and the plumber’s activity in the community increases, the process may revert back.

Room for improvement: The PDCA follow-up should include a date to re-evaluate the trench-fill process in six months to a year.

© July 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. Great post, thanks.

    I’ve been monitoring your blog for just a few weeks and commend you for applying the principles of “Lean” in home production.

    This post is particularly helpful to those who are unfamiliar with Lean and the practices and concepts surrounding “standard work”, “root cause” and “counter measures”. and the more permanent result or “solution”. Your use of images and the step-wise fashion of how you present the process makes it easy for interested followers to develop their own standard work processes and apply them to similar construction challenges.

    Thanks for publishing an insightful blog for the home building industry.

  2. Thanks Mike. It’s been a rocky, uphill climb for us, and we’re certainly not at the top of the mountain yet. Appreciate the feedback!

  3. My pleasure JC.

    I’m interested in getting a dialogue going with you as I have some familiarity with Lean but have never seen it on the construction site…an area that may be well suited to adopting it but an uphill climb for sure.

    Where do you find the most difficulty? Cultural change within the company and subs or up the supply chain…or all?

    Feel free to follow me on Twitter @eXapath or drop an email if you’re interested in exchanging notes (



  4. This is a great example of how one PDCA can solve multiple problems: safety, curb appeal, and standardization.

  5. Counter measures is a well-known feature of the PDCA cycle. But I don’t see any other relationship in above with the PDCA cycle that Deming/Stewart invented.

    • Interesting. What do you see missing?

      It’s got the problem statement, goal statement, Point of Cause, root causes and counter measures. What would you do differently?

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