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Respect for People and Emotional Intelligence - The Missing Pillar of Lean

Lean Project Delivery and Last Planner System are big buzz phrases in the construction industry. Lean uses a collaborative approach to projects that eliminate waste, focus on adding value, and continuously improve. The two pillars of lean are continual improvement and respect for people. As an industry, and as technical people, we tend to focus on the process and the continual improvement part. But we tend to forget the respect for people part.

How Lean Leaders are Changing the Construction Industry

As an engineering professional a few years into my career, I’ve focused on building my skills in a way that allows me to contribute positively to my clients, my company, and the construction industry. I quickly realized that becoming a student of Lean would allow me to do just that. Through opportunities at my company, Southland Industries, and my involvement with the Lean Construction Institute’s Lean Leader group, I’ve learned how Lean practices can transform a project, and how important engaging the next generation of professionals is to full industry transformation.

Applying Lean Techniques to Hurricane Planning and Preparation

Our company applied Lean techniques to hurricane planning and preparation in advance of the 2017 hurricane season, which turned out to be one of the most active and destructive hurricane seasons of all time. The teams involved followed a Lean process: plan, do, check, adjust. The result was a host of lessons learned that were applied to planning efforts for the 2018 hurricane season.

Understanding Your Organization's Lean Maturity

Lean Construction (LC), a management philosophy, is known in the industry to enable organisations to achieve major improvement in terms of productivity and levels of innovation through more collaborative approaches. However, implementing LC is not an easy task for organisations and often requires fundamental changes at both – the strategic and operational level.

11 Scrum Steps to Get Twice the Work Done in Half the Time

Before I began my Lean journey in 2009, I honestly never thought about my capacity. I paused and reflected on what I had learned about applying Lean. My entry point was “Lean Thinking” by Womack and Jones, but even practicing the principles and some tools wasn’t increasing my management capacity beyond my first-year gains. I was a chronic workaholic and after beginning to practice Lean I was down to a consistent 55-60-hour workweek with only occasional Saturdays. Something was missing, I wasn’t improving. I had reached a plateau. I wasn’t satisfied.

Grounded in principles: Maximizing the benefits of Last Planner System

I still remember my first “aha” moment sitting in Glenn Ballard’s Lean Construction course. As both a PM and Superintendent on the Big Dig, I had struggled to figure out why some actions improved project performance and others made no dent in the chaos. That “aha” moment was my understanding how a lack of reliability impacts any process, and it brought perspective to all my prior successes and failures. All of a sudden, to get better results on any project, I had a lever I could focus on moving.

How Visualizing Your Resources Can Lead to Better Flow and More Reliable Commitments

In an office, organizing the available resources and securing reliable commitments in the daily business is important. Especially in companies with different projects, an easy understandable overview of the resources allocation of the weekly work plan and the lookahead is very important. In our office we had a hard time organizing the team members that work on different projects away from the office. In some cases a team member becomes unavailable at short notice or there are changes in the projects which affect the allocation of staff.

The Business Case for Lean

Before I retired from Intel Corporation, I was often asked what data we used to select our contracting methodology or our project delivery approach. Like many large companies, too often we used a poor recent project as a reason to try yet another approach versus having a set of objective data from which to draw upon.

When I first joined the Lean Construction Institute board, I heard that same question asked time and time again with little real hard evidence. There was many good subjective stories and projects that were utilizing lean construction practices, and many had very encouraging results. But again, almost all owners I spent time with needed some hard data to prove to their companies that they were following best practices.

Seeing Through Lean Lenses

It is often said that, “Once you begin to understand Lean, the world will never look the same!” Is that true for you? Has it happened to you yet?

As a consultant, I have spent many years working on a complex problem: how can we make our organizations more successful, more effective, and better places to spend the huge percentage of our time that constitutes our work life?

How to Create Project Success Using Lean Principles

Tracey Kidder said, “Building is the quintessential act of civilization.” Think about it. If three people washed up on a deserted island, the first thing they would do is collaboratively build a shelter. Unless, of course, the three people were an architect, owner’s rep, and contractor. Then, they would have to wait for two lawyers to wash up on the beach so that they could proceed with the project.

How to Lead a Pull Plan Session

Around 15% of builders are using Pull Planning (although only 9% are using the full Last Planner® System) on at least some of their projects, according to the AGC and McGraw Hill [1] . The challenge is how to get the most value in the shortest time during a pull planning session.

The authors of this blog have led and coached over 200 pull planning sessions in the last few years, co-authored a book on the subject, and led dozens of training sessions and webinars.

Lean Processes that Drive Results

People commit to Lean because it promises results; organizations sustain that commitment. There is no Lean without Lean results: reduced waste; focused value, and streamlined flow. For those designing and constructing capital projects – there is no Lean without Project Delivery results: increased profit, increased client satisfaction, and increased speed.

The History of the Last Planner System

The roots of the Last Planner® System reach back before the word “Lean” was coined by the International Motor Vehicle Program and made famous by the book The Machine that Changed the World. Events that in some way influenced the thinking behind the Last Planner include the collaborative leadership style of a military officer in southeast Asia, the priorities of a chicken rancher, and the influence of the Total Quality Management movement.

What is Integrated Project Delivery Part 2: Lean Operating System

This post is the 2nd of a 3 part series looking at Integrated Project Delivery. The first post focuses on IPD agreements (contracts), this post focuses on IPD as a Lean Operating System, and the final post focuses on culture.

To maximize the value of the contract structure, teams require a new work philosophy focused on efficiency and reliability. A Lean Operating System delivers customer value, through streamlined processes practicing continuous improvement.

Integrate or Disintegrate

"Integrate or disintegrate" was a statement I made while facilitating a multi-day kickoff meeting for a mission critical project. My point to the folks was that only as an integrated team could we achieve the aggressive objectives set for this project. I used the example of the 2004 USA Olympic basketball team for what could happen if we didn't integrate.

Lean.... let’s do life better!

This June I will be speaking at the Canadian Lean Conference in Winnipeg Canada. My subject will be “Lean is Simple.” It is centered on how I built a Lean culture with my team at FastCap and how thousands of other organizations around the world have done the same. However, if Lean is so “simple” why do so many people struggle to make it happen and make it sustainable?

How to Succeed with the Lookahead Process of The Last Planner System

Properly executing the look ahead planning portion of The Last Planner System can ensure your project team is set up for success. This exercise typically occurs during weekly team meetings where teams evaluate what “can” be done over the next 6 to 8 weeks. The goal is for the team to identify constraints, assign responsibility, and commit to resolving them prior to the constraint impacting the activity. This article will offer helpful tips to get the most out of your look ahead planning sessions.

Management By Asking Why

The 5 Whys is a management concept that has been popularized by Toyota [1]. The concept is simple - when you encounter a problem, ask why at least 5 times until you understand the root cause. Only by addressing the root cause can you truly resolve the issue and ensure that it will never occur again. In today’s fast paced and dynamic business environment, constantly asking why is a good business practice that can lead to a more innovative and better problem-solving culture.

What is Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)? - Part 1 of 3

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is gaining popularity among owners, contractors, and design teams as a means to unlock creativity, drive reliability, and successfully deliver complex capital projects.

With all of the recent hype about the success of IPD and many large owners looking to pilot their first IPD projects, what exactly is Integrated Project Delivery? This series will explore Integrated Project Delivery as a contract form, a lean operating system and as a transformational culture.

Why Lean? Why Now?

Lean project delivery has entered the mainstream of construction, yet Lean adoption lags among design professionals. Architects and engineers who transformed the industry by first pioneering sustainable design and later the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) remain spectators while trade partners, construction managers, and some owners embrace Lean. As more owners expect and demand Lean, the hearts and minds of design professionals will soon follow. Change is difficult. Going “Lean” means abandoning the prevalent, “Robust” culture underlying design, operations and project delivery.

Knowing Lean Construction is frustrating!

I always start the training of new Lean Practitioners with a general warning. They risk to be constantly frustrated after being trained as Lean Practitioners. If they do not think they can handle it they should leave the training immediately. This is partly a gimmick to get their attention but it is also true that if you are working as a Lean Practitioners you risk being constantly frustrated. To clarify this I divide the personal development as a new lean practitioner into four general development phases: 1) Scepticism, 2) Excitement, 3) Frustration and 4) Optimism.

Lean Facility Management – Introducing the Kanban System

Maintenance is defined as a combination of technical, administrative, and management activities throughout the product life cycle [1]. This is done to ensure that the product keeps functioning smoothly and achieves its full life cycle. Corrective maintenance happens after a breakdown or failure while preventive maintenance (also known as regular maintenance) is designed to be proactive.

In simplistic terms, Lean Maintenance is doing the maintenance in the most effective and efficient manner which creates the greatest value for the end asset user.

A Digital Approach to Implement and Use The Last Planner® System

The pros of using the Last Planner® System [1] in Projects is a well referred topic [2, 3, 4]. However, especially in a design phase with several participants who are located far away from each other, analog systems can be uneconomical. This was the biggest challenge during the implementation of a Lean Project Delivery System for the design phase of a residential home with about 800 apartments. The design team consisted of four organizations, two located in Germany, one in Austria, and another in Poland. Due to a tight budget, co-location was not an option.

Takt time planning - When the train falls off the tracks

Takt time planning is a great tool for aligning crews and creating flow on site. However, it’s still just a plan and it will inevitably fail at some point. One of the reasons for using takt time is not only to create flow, but also help pinpoint where the bottleneck is on site. In the long run that’s a good thing; don’t ignore your problems, they’ll just grow.

Aside from adding more crews, here are a few countermeasures to consider when executing a Takt time plan that’s gone off-beat.

The Pocket Sensei - How to Teach Yourself to Train Your Mind

There's a revolution happening. It’s called learning while doing. Great projects are Lean — yet the majority of Lean initiatives fail. Lean is generally misunderstood to be about the tools we use rather than the people at the place where they work. Many Lean initiatives fail not because of the accessibility to Lean tools, but because leadership is unavailable when it is needed most. The leadership required to bring about and maintain such a tectonic shift seems scarce and difficult to develop.

What Can be Learned About Lean from an Arts Perspective

Have you ever thought about adding to your perspective on Lean and your Lean practices in design and construction? Most of what we understand about Lean is based on observations made by people with an engineering and scientific perspective on work. This way of looking at work has been extremely valuable, and still there is a sense that Lean may be missing something if it is to become more fully practiced. A recent workshop exploring the arts perspective of Lean was a first step in expanding our understanding of Lean and how to best help others see the value in the Lean approach to work.

The Present State of Lean Construction in Japan and a Better Way Forward

Many people are interested in the Japanese state of Lean Construction because Lean Construction has been born out from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Although I have been studying and introducing Lean Construction for some years, even now people who know the term "Lean Construction" seem to be less than 50 in number inside Japan. Outside Japan there is not so much information about the Japanese state of Lean Construction, which this contribution is aimed at presenting.

Resistance to Lean & Integrated Project Delivery Part II: Develop “Profound Knowledge” to Address the Root Causes of Resistance

In the first post of this series I argued that when stakeholders do not agree on the problem, they probably will not agree on the solution. The “problem” for which advances in Lean Construction are “solutions”, is the failure of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry to realize similar productivity gains achieved by other industries. Three root causes of this problem were suggested: a “Knowing” vs a “Learning Culture”, Lack of Strategic Leadership, and Inertia. In this second post suggestions to address the three root causes are offered.

5 Key Ideas to Make Your Lean Implementation More Successful

As a trainer and consultant of Lean Construction, I have always been passionate about the human side of Lean. I have been observing the behaviour of people in a lot of companies regarding the cultural changes that comes with implementing Lean. Based on my own experiences, I have compiled 5 key ideas that make companies be more successful in implementing Lean.

5 Levels of the Last Planner® System “Should, Can, Will, Did and Learn”

This post takes a brief look at each of the five levels within the Last Planner® System1 (LPS). The system was designed and developed through action research by Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell in the early 1990s2. The purpose of LPS is to produce predictable workflow and rapid learning through social conversations, clear communication, better coordination and commitment based planning.

Resistance to Lean & Integrated Project Delivery Part I: Three Root Causes

In my role as an “Integrated Lean Project Delivery (ILPD) Coach”, I struggle everyday to understand and address resistance to positive change in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry. Many reasons for this resistance have been suggested in various articles and posts. In this first of a two-part blog post, I will share some insights about what I believe are three root causes of resistance.

5 Things to Consider When Setting Targets For Target Value Delivery

A common concept in the construction industry is that there are three legs to a project: Schedule, Cost, and Quality. An owner is advised to pick any two, and thereby sacrifice the third (i.e., you can have cost and schedule, but not the quality you want. Or vice versa, you may get the quality and schedule that you want, but not within your budget.)

Enhancing A3 Problem Solving with Technology

A3 problem solving has been popularized by the Toyota Production System [1]. At its core an A3 is simply a standard sheet of paper that is 11” X 17”. Despite its simplicity, an A3 is a powerful tool for problem-solving and communicating complex ideas in a simple manner. In this blog post we will describe the benefits of applying A3s and how technology can enhance this tried and true method.

How does Toyota do it?

As an entrepreneur, manufacturer, author, speaker, and consultant I love questions? When people ask questions I know what they're thinking. And if I know what they're thinking, I have the best opportunity to help them whether it be on the shop floor in my manufacturing plant or consulting with companies around the world.

Building the “A” Team: Creating a Personal Connection with Onboarding in LPD

Two central tenets of Lean are “Respect for People” and “Removal of Waste“ wherever [1]. By not investing in learning about how each individual works on a project, we give up the opportunity for the project to go from ordinary to extraordinary and are overlooking major waste — the waste of human resources that can cost the project as much as schedule or material delays.

The Last Planner ® System during the Finishing Phase in the World of Small Trade Partners

The Last Planner System (LPS) is a production planning and control system designed to produce predictable workflow and rapid learning in programming, design, construction and commissioning of projects. LPS has five main elements: (1) Master Scheduling, (2) Phase "Pull" Planning - what should get done, (3) Make Work Ready Planning - what can get done, (4) Weekly Work Planning - what will get done, and (5) Learning - what was done (did) [1]. The collaborative process of LPS promotes participation of those who do the work to plan the work.

Lean IPD: Start with the Culture, not the Contract

As real estate and capital investments drive the construction industry, and owners/investors are constantly looking for the right balance of programming, quality, safety and cost. They are forced to choose between “low price” or “best value,” two confusing terms whose actual implications are not understood. Many owners, especially those bound by legal requirements, buy “lowest first price.” The truth is that this may not translate into the “lowest final cost” or best value.

Navigating Transformational Change

In my previous post (The Matter of Metrics) I postulated that having sufficient data is not enough to launch a transformational change. So what does trigger change? Some say a burning platform is needed. Where corporate viability is at stake this may be true. However, I suspect in a majority of cases organization leaders are blissfully unaware of a need to adopt Lean or do not view a change to a Lean approach as a priority.

The research is in: A Lean team is an “A”-team!

As the first half of the year ends, it’s a great time for a quick retrospective on your New Year’s Resolutions. If you are like me, you set some ambitious goals for the year, and your business probably did the same.

Often, those resolutions are stated as goals (lag) vs. targets (lead). So what if we set some quantifiable improvement targets for our capital projects, like 10% faster and/or for 10% less without compromising safety, program or quality? Imagine the impact this could have on your business.

What is the Last Planner System?

It’s full name is the Last Planner® System of Production Control. Production control is necessary on projects to support working toward planned accomplishments, doing what can be done to move along a planned path, and when that becomes impossible, determine alternative paths that accomplish desired goals.

Lean Lessons Learned: 10 Steps to Success

My Lean thinking has gradually evolved since beginning my journey in 2000. You'd think I’d have figured it all out by now, right?... Not a chance. I was recently asked a very good question: What would you do differently if you had all the Lean knowledge and experience you have today? Below are 10 thoughts to this question.

6 Tips On How To Implement A Lean Office in the AEC Industry

A highly revered ex-Toyota consultant stated that most manufacturers seem focused on achieving a 35 to 40 percent productivity gain over three to five years as a measure of success in their current Lean efforts. He went on to say that manufacturers should actually be focused on a 400 percent improvement in productivity over 10 years to achieve the path to becoming Lean.

Let’s Be Kids and Continuously Improve!!

When I was a kid, I used to want to win at all costs. This is what my father taught me. They don’t keep score for nothing was the mentality. As I grew up, I have grown to accept it’s not as much about the end result as it is about the journey to get there and my daughter has reinforced this more than anything.

Why The Consensus Agreement is the Cornerstone of Successful IPD Projects

Integrated Projected Delivery can be extremely powerful with the right agreement in place. The key to unlocking to the potential of an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) undertaking lies in the use of the consensus agreement. My experience as lead architect on projects such as the Johnson Center for Science and Community Life at North Park University has shown that such agreements are essential for IPD projects.

Lean Practitioners Need Buddies

I recently joined a large international project as a Lean Manager. To join the project team I moved to another country and left the most of my professional network behind. I was a bit nervous when I started my new job. How would they perceive lean? Where do I find support and inspiration? In the last +10 years I have implemented lean on various projects and learned that a strong network is necessary for success.

Breaking Through the Variation Barrier

Have you been on a project where workers are standing around with nothing to do or areas on your project ready to go with nobody around and all you hear are crickets chirping? This is caused by variation in production which simply means you have inconsistent processes, and you will always end up with inconsistent results.

Teaching Lean: Tools and Tricks for Coaching and Facilitation

We have all been tasked at some point in our life to teach someone else about something we know, and there are certainly some subjects that are more exciting to students than others. When a subject, like implementation of lean tools, is not easily understood because it is new or different from what is already known, it requires the teacher to use different approaches. The first step for the teacher is understanding his or her audience, and deciding which approach will work best: coach, facilitator or trainer.

Lean from the Bottom Up – A Grass Roots Journey

Almost five years ago, our formal Lean journey began when a client asked us to facilitate a Lean transformation on a large, ongoing construction project. It was considered the largest Lean implementation of its kind. Our team, more than 200 of our salaried staff, a similar number of client management and roughly 1,200 craft personnel, began our Lean journey together at the midpoint of this project. The results were dramatic and the metrics generated exceeded all prior metrics from equivalent projects for that client.

IPD + Lean, A Marriage Made in Heaven

A recently completed research report studies ten projects that all used multiparty agreements and Lean practices. The conclusion? Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) motivates teams to collaborate and Lean provides the means to achieve it. IPD is sometimes seen as onerous and complex because it demands that owners and project teams negotiate contract terms such as the shared risk/reward pool and terms of fiscal transparency.

Engaging the Future Leaders of the Industry

Many future leaders of the construction industry are currently being trained in university construction management, engineering, and architecture programs across the country. This presents an exceptional opportunity to expose these future leaders to lean principles alongside the traditional topics being taught in the standard curriculum.

Is Perfect the Enemy of Good?

My wife and I enjoy the occasional TV police drama. One day last week one of the characters in a show we frequent stated that “perfect is the enemy of good”. That phrase stuck with me. That led me to thinking about the quest for perfection in a lean context.

The Matter of Metrics


When company leaders are confronted with the prospect of changing to a Lean Project Delivery approach they will undoubtedly say, “Show me the data.” The implication is that if the data is there to support the implementation of Lean then they will get behind the change. However, this is rarely the case as I will address later, so hold that thought to the end of this installment. Until then let’s assume that your senior executives DO get the Lean/IPD value proposition. Big assumption, but humor me for now.

The Secret Sauce: How to Make all of Your Lean Projects Successful

The big buzz phrase in the construction industry is Integrated Project Delivery or IPD. Disney has a concept called ILPD or Integrated Lean Project Delivery. This uses not only a collaborative approach to projects, but also uses the Last Planner System and Lean concepts to eliminate waste, focus on adding value, and continuously improving. Everyone on the project signs an integrated form of agreement that commits to shared risk and reward and cooperation throughout the project.

On the Advocate Health Care Front: How Project Success moved from “IPDish” to IFOA

Advocate Health Care, one of the largest health systems in Illinois treats more pediatric, heart and cancer patients than any other hospital, operates more than 400 sites of care, 12 acute-care hospitals, a children’s hospital with two campuses, and the state’s largest integrated children’s network – all serving 3.4 million patients. Given its extensive real estate and capital investments, Advocate is constantly seeking the most efficient and innovative project delivery methods possible.

10 Easy Ways to Run a Lean Meeting

I try to apply “lean thinking” into all aspects of life, not just to work and certainly not just to construction projects (if you ever meet me in person, ask me to tell you how I manage my family’s weekly grocery list). When trying to inspire lean thinking in others, I encourage them to pick something that bugs them – it doesn’t matter what it is – and work their way backwards from there. The goal is to make life easier by reducing waste and/or add value; finding ways to simplify the process by speeding up or eliminating steps and handoffs wherever possible.

The Human Factor in the Implementation of the Last Planner® System

The aim of this post is to describe, from experience in Argentina, the impact the Last Planner System (LPS) had on a group of responsible people involved in a project. Implementing the LPS raises different types of technical and human factor challenges. Regarding technical matters, LPS improves productivity, fulfills the terms of agreements between last planners, and reduces variability. Above all and most importantly, production is planned focusing on flow and value. In this post, we will approach the human factor challenges highlighting how correctly implementing the five elements of LPS - i.e. should; can; will; did; and learn - transforms a group of people in a work team.

Owner Criteria for Lean Provider Selection

A popularly quoted and important concept is that "Lean Transformation is a journey, not a destination". At the 2016 International Congress on Lean Construction, people at all stages of the journey were on display: beginners, in-progress implementers, advanced practitioners, etc. How can an Owner distinguish between the levels of Lean and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) experience when selecting AEC team members for a project? As an "ILPD" Coach, here are 5 questions that I recommend my clients to ask when selecting their Lean service providers.

The Ratio of Value vs. Waste in Brazilian Infrastructure Projects

Brazil’s public and private infrastructure sector is investing in processes improvement and kaizen implementation. Included in this investment is a study of the of ratio of value added vs. non-value added activities on site. The main goal of this initial diagnostic step is to understand the processes involved to provide a basis for future improvements.

Implementing Lean to Improve BIM Processes

Virtual construction is becoming an essential part of any construction projects. Even in low-level BIM maturity projects building developers are demanding BIM in the design and construction phase. Lean tools have been developed and applied successfully in the construction industry around the world. Such tools can generate benefits as they improve the company’s organization, its development, and competitiveness 1.

Applying Lean Thinking to Improve Safety Performance in Construction

The construction industry remains one of the most hazardous industries in the United States in terms of the number of occupational fatal and non-fatal injuries. In 2014, 874 fatal work-related injuries were reported in the U.S. construction industry1. Even though construction workers historically account for only about 5% of the overall U.S. workforce, the construction industry accounts for approximately 20% of the total occupational fatal and non-fatal injuries2.

Lean and BIM Synergy in Practice – A General Overview

Recent research on BIM and Lean Construction (LC) shows that there is a significant synergy between the two. The many positive interactions includes: reduction in process variation and cycle-times, increased visualisation of products and processes, automation of some non-value adding activities, increased collaborative working, advanced prefabrication options, and better value capturing and rapid generation of alternatives through the use of BIM come to fore.

4 Tips To Improve Your Next Pull Planning Session

I find myself going through similar motions in the beginning stages of project planning. Our team has submitted CPM schedules per owner’s requirements and have moved on to selecting contractors. This is starting off as the typical construction process so far. To break the cycle, our team has committed to implementing the Last Planner System on this project.

5 Ways to Keep Employees Engaged When Working in Remote, Outsourced and Virtual Environments

The rise in information technology, changing market and working conditions has meant the workplace environment for some design and construction workers has evolved significantly. More companies are moving away from the traditional workplace settings where they have daily face-to-face contact with their manager and team. It is now more common to work remotely, outsource to other organisations, or work online and from home.

Miracle in Kazakhstan: Creating a Lean Culture in 18 Months

It is hard to believe that I am on my fifth book "Miracle in Kazakhstan." In January 2015, I accepted an invitation to come to Kazakhstan’s largest construction company - BI Group - to speak about “2 Second Lean”. My job was simple; build a lean culture in a company through interpreters, in a language that is as foreign to me as painting a Van Gough would be.

LeanBIM: Unleash BIM Possibilities and Make Lean Construction Even Leaner

The main goal of implementing Lean Construction is to generate value and to minimize waste. This value can be maximized by implementing BIM alongside with Lean Construction. Lean provides the framework for understanding waste, while BIM enables the project team from different disciplines to work together in order to achieve the lean ideal of removing it.

Introduction to SMED: A Neglected Method in Lean Construction

Exchange of Dies, refers to a method in the Lean Production System that is used for quick, simplified and efficient production set-up and changeover from one product/process to another, which often constitute the major causes of production downtime (non-productive time/stoppages). It is one of the foundational blocks of a continuous, improved production flow.

IGLC Boston 2016: On the Brink of a Lean Revolution - Part 1

The 24th Annual International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC) Conference and Research Summer School took place between July 18 and 24 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It was a very busy week of learning (and some social activities!) which was attended by over 250 academics and practitioners. This blog (Part 1) will cherry pick some of my key takeaways and highlights from the first two days of the week long industry and research programme.

Teaching Lean Construction II: Last Planner System

Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell developed the Last Planner System of Production Control throughout the 90s1. At the same time, Lauri Koskela was working on developing a theory of production which provided the theoretical framework for the LPS2. The LPS has been successfully implemented and is becoming an important part construction management3. However, the transition from theory to practice has not been easy.

Applying Kanban at a Small HVAC Company

This blog post is a continuation of our series on the application of Lean Construction methods in a small HVAC Company. The goal of this post is to show how a small company applied Kanban to manage their work processes. We will look at Kanban from three perspectives: 1) managing inventory, 2) managing customer inquiries, and 3) managing RFIs.

Implementing Lean Construction: The Major Pitfalls

Implementing the Lean Production philosophy in the construction industry has been discussed since the early 1990s. With an increasing attention to the subject, a growing body of research and many successful implementations by the industry, “Lean” construction has stood the test of time and avoided becoming another management fad.

Lean Construction Resources

As our construction industry becomes more open to adopting collaborative and lean practices, we are going to see more requests for knowledge and training on the subjects of target value delivery, last planner system, choosing by advantage, A3 thinking etc.

Lean Project Delivery System and ISO 21500

Lean Project Delivery System (LPDS) is an organized implementation of the Lean Principles and Tools, combined to allow a team to operate in unison. The LPDS was developed as a philosophy, a set of interdependent functions, rules for decision making, procedures for execution of functions, and as implementation aids and tools, including software when appropriate; the domain for the LPDS is defined by the intersection of projects and production systems.

Teaching Lean Construction I: Pull & Flow

According to Tommelein et al.1, workflow can be characterized in several different ways. In manufacturing, it is defined by stationary machines with partially completed products being transported from one to the next. In construction, the products being built tend to be stationary, whereas crews of various trades move from location to location and complete work that is prerequisite to starting work by the following crew.

When the Wheels Fall Off (and They Will)

You’ve studied the Toyota Production System, you’ve attended webinars, you’ve read all the books. You’ve even learned a little Japanese in the process. Your team has been prepped and schooled in lean theory and seems enthusiastic about embracing something new. You’re ready to lead your team to the promised land of lean and your world is soon to be filled with joyous customers, happy employees, and record profits!

The History of the Development of the Last Planner® System

According to Glenn Ballard, one of the inventors of the Last Planner System (LPS), an earlier study on Crew Planning in the 1980s was a precursor to its development1. At that time, Glenn was the Productivity Improvement Manager for Brown & Root’s Construction in the US. Some key LPS principles such as ‘make ready’ and ‘shielding workers from bad assignments’ were practiced then.

5 Big Ideas behind Lean Design and Construction

Back in Spring 2004, Sutter Health held a conference for the design and construction companies that they had worked with to build their facilities. Lean Project Consulting facilitated the event and presented a manifesto to guide Sutter’s future capital program1. It was called: “Five Big Ideas That Are Reshaping the Design and Delivery of Capital Projects”. These ideas inspired the first multi-party agreement used for design and construction: The Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA).

Applying the Last Planner in a Small HVAC Company

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 6.5 million people working in the US construction industry in 2016. The average construction worker is statistically more likely to work in a small or medium business than a large multi-billion company. Despite this statistic, many of the research and implementation case studies in Lean Construction have been on large multi-million or multi-billion projects. The goal of this blog post to present a case study of an application of the Last Planner System within a small 20-person company.

Control The Last Planner System Using Visual Management


In line with the famous saying “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy”, construction production systems need solid mechanisms to control their projects on site. The Last Planner System and Takt Time Planning offer a collaborative and balanced method for planning in lean construction. However, plans are pretty much pointless unless they are controlled and modified effectively.

Lean Construction Maturity


Lean Construction (LC), a management philosophy, is known in the industry to enable organisations to achieve major improvement in terms of productivity and levels of innovation through more collaborative approaches. However, implementing LC is not an easy task for organisations and often requires fundamental changes at both – the strategic and operational level.

An A3 Template for Lean Research

In Lean Construction, we recognize that there are inherent wastes in every production system. Our objective is often to identify and reduce the wastes. Just as construction and design have been conceptualized as production systems, it can be argued that research is also a production system. Instead of producing a design or creating a product, the output of research is new knowledge. If research is truly a production system, then could we apply the same Lean methods and tools to drive out waste and improve its efficiency?

Keys and Tips to Implement the 5S Methodology

The 5S methodology was born at Toyota in the 60s under an industrial environment to achieve better organized, tidier, and cleaner workplaces to increase productivity and to obtain a better working environment. The 5S methodology has been widely spread, and many companies and organizations are implementing it worldwide. Although it is conceptually simple and does not require a complex training or experts with sophisticated knowledge, it is essential to implement it through a rigorous and disciplined fashion.

Introduction to Location Based Management System: CPM on Steroids Combined with Flowline Visualization

The Location-based Management System (LBMS) builds on decades of work on location-based scheduling methods. The first recorded utilization of location-based methods in vertical construction was in the Empire State Building. More systematic approaches followed. Line-of-Balance was based on optimizing production of identical locations.

Project Managers are Last Planners Too!

We often identify “last planners” as the people responsible for performing the work on a construction site. Although project managers do not perform any of the work on a construction site, they do have more responsibility to the project other than just organizing the next golf trip! This blog takes a look at how project managers can use the the Last Planner® System (LPS) to help the project team deliver their promises.

Achieving Lean With Cloud and Mobile Technologies

In many ways, lean construction is about ensuring the right people receive the right information at the right time. Cloud and mobile technologies can greatly facilitate these goals. By storing information in the cloud, a construction team gains a single source that connects all the project data; from the master schedule to the weekly work plan; from real-time project inspections and insights to the most up-to-date BIM.

Creating a Lean Culture: Communicating with HeaRT

Creating a lean culture sometimes requires participating in difficult conversations. Perhaps someone is not meeting their commitments, or maybe they're not fully present in meetings where their input is critical to the success of the project. How do you communicate with them in a way that doesn't tear them down yet gets results?

5 Steps To Takt Time Planning

As a foreword to the post, I think there are many ways one can execute Takt time planning (TTP). The fact that there isn’t much research on the topic in construction means that it is definitely an open question. Through some iteration and research, the five step method below is the best practice to Takt time planning so far.

The Concept of Waste as Understood in Lean Construction

The construction industry is seen, by researchers, as a slowly progressing industry that is suffering from low productivity and poor performance compared to other industries. Over the past 60 years the UK industry has commissioned several reports with the aim of reviewing its performance and suggesting means of improvement.

7 Ways to Make Shared Risk and Reward Sustainable in the Construction Industry

Around the world, shared risk and reward contracts are becoming more prevalent. In the United States several forms of agreements for construction projects including: Sutter Health’s Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA), the ConsensusDocs 300, and American Institute of Architects (AIA) contracts have provisions for sharing the profit and the losses of a construction project between the owner, contractor, architect, specialty trade contractors, and other service providers.

Lean Construction is Gaining Traction in Germany: Takeaways from the First GLCI Conference

Lean Construction is starting to gain traction in Germany. The German Lean Construction Institute (GLCI) established on 15th of July 2014, held the first conference in Frankfurt on October 15, 2015. 211 participants including construction companies, subcontractors, consultants, private owners, and researchers, exchanged information and discussed their Lean journey.

An Introduction to Conventional Visual Management

Visual Management is a visual (sensory) communication strategy that is frequently used to realize Lean Construction goals at the operational level (i.e construction field, design office, facilities etc.). Visual Management emphasizes consciously employing simple yet effective cognitive concepts and artefacts such as color coding, shadowing, the Gestalt Law or simple cards, tokens and boards to attain the operational targets of a production system.

How Target Value Design Works. A Theoretical Model

Research on Target Value Design (TVD) has found that TVD projects are delivered 15% to 20% below market price1. Additionally, TVD projects are more likely to achieve predictable cost performance outcomes while carry less contingency than projects that do not use TVD2. This post introduces a theoretical model to explain these results.

Applying Lean Thinking to the Design Process

By nature, the design process is complex; it often involves thousands of decisions, sometimes over a period of many years, with numerous interdependencies, and under a highly uncertain environment. Design can involve a large number of participants and decisions makers, trade-offs between multiple competing design criteria with inadequate information, and intense budget and schedule constraints.

Why Decision-making Methods Matter

Have you ever thought about which method you use for making decisions? Probably not, but you probably have asked yourself whether or not you made a good decision. Well, the two questions are related. We can never be 100% sure we have made a good decision, but we can make sure that we follow a good decision-making method and do the best with the available information.

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