“It is news to no thoughtful person that the construction industry is broken. The challenge is understanding why it doesn’t work so it can be fixed. Todd Zabelle’s new book, Built to Fail, meets that challenge, but be prepared to shed some paradigms. Here are but two examples of Todd’s advice: ‘Get rid of baseline schedules’ and ‘Design is never complete.’”

Glenn Ballard, PhD

Director, Project Productions Systems Laboratory, University of California Berkeley

“No other construction professional has helped me shape my mental models about construction more than Todd Zabelle. Our sparring sessions over more than the last three decades have allowed me to see the shortcomings of the concepts that shape the management of our projects. They have made me seek better theories that enable project teams to produce high-performing building projects that make them proud and that improve our lives.”

Martin Fischer, PhD

Kumagai Professor of Engineering, Professor of Civil and Environ-mental Engineering, Stanford University

Director, Center for Integrated Facility Engineering

Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy

“Built to Fail is a must-read for anyone investing in digital infrastructure and green energy projects in the future. It is critical information for anyone who wants to survive as a relevant investment option and combat the massive problems plaguing the industry. In Built to Fail, Todd Zabelle lays out a scientific and data-backed approach to deliver projects more efficiently and effectively. These methods are proven to reduce cost, use of cash, time, and risk while improving control of time to market.  For owners or anyone in the industry, ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse, or a luxury you can afford.”

Hunter Newby

Founder & CEO, Newby Ventures

"Having spent thirty-eight years of my life in “turn-around” of companies that were unprofitable and operated with incompetence and laziness Todd’s book was a wake-up call. While an unprofitable company maybe be problematic to employees, shareholders and owners, an unsafe company can be catastrophic and impactful to families! I think this book is a wakeup call and a great read. Congratulations Todd! This is something all companies need."

Gus Halas

Chairman of The Board at Kraus Hamdani Aerospace, Inc.

"As a contracts manager deeply embedded in the capital projects sector, "Built to Fail" was like finding a compass whilst lost in the jungle. The read compelled me to reevaluate my entire professional approach. The book masterfully blends analysis with actionable solutions, opening my eyes to the untapped potential of Operations Science in construction. Its clear, engaging narrative not only lays out the systemic inefficiencies plaguing projects but also charts a pragmatic course towards revolutionizing our practices. By incorporating real-world case studies and emphasizing the human element critical to project success, it serves as both a critique and a beacon of hope for industry professionals. This book has not only changed my perspective but has also motivated me to advocate for meaningful change in how we approach capital projects, making it an indispensable resource I'll refer to repeatedly."
Patrick Croal

Hydro One

The separation of planning from doing and the preoccupation with administration, contracts, and scheduling over designing and building has been disastrous for construction.

Lawyers, planners, risk managers, schedulers, and other administrative roles impede the ability of architects, engineers, and craftspeople—the professionals who design and build the things society needs to function. It isn’t just a matter of getting things done on time—if you’re the owner of an asset, manage a construction company, or invest in a project, overcoming these limitations is critical to your ability to compete and profit.

In Built To Fail, Todd Zabelle, a recognized expert, construction CEO, and one of the founders of the lean construction movement, looks critically at each aspect of the industry, from production to construction to design to deployment to what the future holds, deftly analyzing where we’ve gone wrong and offering concrete, clear-eyed solutions for how to fi x it.

Zabelle’s incisive wit and pulls-no-punches honesty are a refreshing antidote to the bland, overly polite, vacuous dialogue of board meetings and academic conferences. Speaking from the heart—and informed by over thirty years of experience in all facets of the industry—Zabelle delivers a much-needed wakeup call at a time when it’s needed most.

View and download graphics from the book

Todd R. Zabelle

30+ Years of Innovation & Thought Leadership

Not one to hold back or sugar coat the problem, Zabelle is a true construction man that has been involved in some of the world’s most complex and critical projects.

He is one of four founding equity partners of the Lean Construction Institute (Ballard, Howell, Tommelein & Zabelle), Founder Project Production Institute, Founder & CEO Strategic Project Solutions, Inc., Founder & CEO Pacific Contracting (featured in the U.K. Rethinking Construction aka Egan Report) and Forbes Featured Author.

Zabelle has authored numerous papers that have been referenced by hundreds of authors outlining how to improve project outcomes and a sought-after speaker.

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