IGLC 23 Perth: Global Problems, Global Solutions

This month I want to share my highlights and takeaways from last month’s International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC) 23rd Annual Conference in Perth, Australia. The IGLC was founded in 1993, and makes up a network of professionals and researchers in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) who feel that the practice, education, and research of AEC has to be radically renewed in order to respond to the challenges ahead 1. There were 85 papers accepted for the conference (60 presented) from 16 countries. The conference lasted 4 days. The first day was specific to the industry and had some keynote speakers and breakout sessions. The following three days had research paper presentations on various themes such as People, Culture and Change, BIM and Lean, and Teaching Lean Construction (all papers are available to download at www.iglc.net). After the conference, there was an annual two day “Summer School” session for current PhD students to get feedback from a panel of seasoned researchers and professors. This year’s Summer School took place at Curtin University.

Day 1: Industry Day

Laura Shepherd from ODG Solutions2 presentation “Culture Change – Changing Mind-sets and Behaviours to enable Business Success” was really interesting. Laura emphasized the importance of developing a culture that fosters learning, creativity and innovation if you want to achieve business success. However, if an organisation wants to change its culture there has to be a burning platform – a need, want and a catalyst for change. If an organisation is doing so well, why would they want to or need to change? I really liked Laura’s slide which looked at the different cultural styles (Check out the recommended papers below). Are any of these attributes familiar to your workplace? If so, which category does your organization fit into? James Barrett’s presentation also resonated with me. James outlined some of the approaches Turner Construction have taken towards lean construction. He also outlined some of the specific challenges. I liked the exercise he ran which illustrated that change requires effort. “Lean is simple”, as Paul Akers3 says, but, as Digby Christian4 says “lean is also the hardest simple thing you will ever do!” To implement Lean well requires effort and change.

Day 2: Research Conference

The Production, Planning and Control session had many interesting papers. Adam Frandson5 and Olli Seppanen6 presented on Takt Time and Location Based Management System (LBMS) planning. Lauri Koskela7 asked “What is a Good Plan?” and presented a table that indicated what situations each planning method is suitable for. Based on this table LBMS, Takt Time and Last Planner® are most effective – Critical Path Method (CPM) and Critical Chain were the least effective. Christine Pasquire8 presented a paper that explored the implementation of Last Planner® through the IGLC Community over the last 21 years. Christine illustrated how Last Planner® is growing geographically with most of the papers on the topic outside the United States. My takeaway from Day 2 was that LBMS and Takt Time complement each other well and should be combined with Last Planner® (once Last Planner® is mastered) for greater production efficiencies. There is probably no "one shoe fits all solution" for effective planning, but, it is clear that Last Planner® is a very good starting point.

Day 3: Research Conference

The Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) session was probably my favorite. Glenn Ballard9 gave an overview of “How to Make Shared Risk and Reward Sustainable?” and discussed a project that failed using target value design (TVD). The project ended up 6.4% over target cost and the partners received no profit. However, some countermeasures to learn from this failure were proposed. Annette Schöttle10 then presented an interesting scenario where Choosing By Advantages could be used in tendering to differentiate between and select a project team. Doanh Do11 outlined 15 misaligned incentives within TVD and IPD. Patricia Tillmann12 reported on a project where lean and BIM principles supported the smoother transition of Engineered-to-Order (ETO) components from design to production. However, this was not without some challenges and learning. Day 3’s biggest takeaway? IPD success is more likely when all of the stakeholders who can impact the schedule have skin in the game (shared risk/reward). Also, failure to keep the project scope and target cost aligned is a recipe for disaster.

Day 4: Research Conference

My 15 minutes of fame at IGLC! I presented my research on the Irish AEC sector, what is lean?, and table which compares lean theory with current practice13. James Smith’s14 paper on Design Science Research (DSR) is worth reading for any current or aspiring researchers. Matt Stevens15 examined how the variability of subcontractor work flow is affected by variables such as demand and other concurrent contracts. Wenda Nofera16 delivered an excellent overview of the learning and teaching methods, and curriculum for lean construction at Michigan State University, USA.

Day 5-6: IGLC PhD Summer School

Since 2004, the IGLC professors run a Summer School to teach PhD students research methods. This year, Dr Vicente González and Dr Paz Arroyo were the Deans and organisers. Ten students presented for 15 minutes and with 30 minutes of constructive feedback from the expert professors in the field of lean construction (González, Arroyo, Pasquire, Stevens, Sacks, Ballard, and Formoso). There was a research methodology workshop on Design Science Research (DSR) and on framing the problem statement. DSR starts with your problem statement and helps the researcher gain a deep understanding of an industry problem so that a clear practical contribution to industry can be made, but also, a theoretical contribution for academia – the prerequisite for a PhD! The summer school is a very enjoyable and important part of the conference and a unique opportunity for all the researchers to get expert feedback from the IGLC professors and their peers.

IGLC 23 Summer School Professors and Research Students

Overall, another very insightful conference and it was a good chance to catch up with some old friends as well as making new ones. I am looking forward to next year is Boston, USA followed by Crete, Greece in 2017.

Additional Information

1. International Group for Lean Construction www.iglc.net

2. ‘Culture Change – Changing Mind-sets and Behaviours to enable Business Success’.

3. Youtube video ‘Lean is Simple’

4. Christian, D. 2014. Personal communication with Paul Ebbs at IGLC Oslo, Norway.

5. ‘Comparison Between Location Based Management and Takt Time Planning'

6. 'Integration of Last Planner System and Location-Based Management System'

7. 'What Is a Good Plan?'

8. 'Exploring the Implementation of the Last Planner® System Through IGLC Community: Twenty One Years of Experience'

9. 'How to Make Shared Risk and Reward Sustainable'

10. 'Comparing Three Methods in the Tendering Procedure to Select the Project Team'

11. 'An Analysis of Potential Misalignments of Commercial Incentives in Integrated Project Delivery and Target Value Design'

12. 'BIM and Lean in the Designproduction Interface of ETO Components in Complex Projects'

13. 'Lean Construction Theory and Practice: An Irish Perspective'

14. 'A Case Study on Design Science Research as a Methodology for Developing Tools to Support Lean Construction Efforts'

15. 'Reducing Variability of a Valuable Construction Input: Subcontractors'

16. 'Teaching Lean Construction for University Student(s)'

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