Highlighting 12 Papers from the IGLC 2019 Conference

The International Group For Lean Construction (IGLC) is an international conference started in 1993. The IGLC brings together an international community of researchers and industry practitioners each summer to advance the research and practical applications of Lean Design and Construction. This year’s event in Dublin Ireland had around 300 attendees from 38 different countries who presented 130 papers.

In this blog post, I want to highlight 12 papers from the conference. These papers are intended to give the readers of the Lean Construction Blog a good understanding of the major topics discussed in this year’s IGLC. There are many impactful papers that did not make this list and the interested reader is encouraged to view the full archive of papers on the IGLC website. The 12 papers and their abstracts are included below.

1. Changing Behaviors Upstream to Achieve Expected Outcomes


A behavior-based approach to quality has been proposed to highlight the impact that upstream behaviors have on the overall outcomes of construction projects. The focus of this pioneering approach is first to understand that certain behaviors lead to conversations in which expectations are clearly identified and understood by the different project participants, and then to set measurable acceptance criteria so that the final result can be compared with what was agreed. Previous research has described the approach and provided positive results in satisfying client’s expectations, but the process to achieve such outcomes has not been captured. This paper captures the implementation of this behavior-based quality (BBQ) approach to quality management, that has as its main goal to have no surprises, zero rework, and to improve delivery of value to all the project participants engaged at any point of a construction project. Construction projects are to be planned first for quality to fully understand expectations of what the team should build, then for safety to identify any potential risks associated with the processes to build the agreed work and define how tasks will be built in a safe manner, and then for production to secure flow and an adequate use of resources.

2. Identifying Barriers in Lean Implementation in the Construction Industry


With the rising attention on the topic of Lean construction and its benefits, more and more companies aim to implement the Lean philosophy in their culture. Together with changing the companies’ culture multiple challenges occur. Hence, it is of utmost importance to identify factors, which lead to poor management in Lean construction activities. Therefore, this paper intends to identify and categorize barriers leading to poor implementation of the Lean philosophy. In this respect, a set of barrier groups comprising a total of twenty-seven components were identified. A questionnaire was designed and administered to Lean construction professionals in order to rank the importance level of the selected barriers. The paper proposes that lack of ‘top management support’, ‘misperception about Lean practices’, ‘lack of information sharing and integrated change control’ are the top three barriers for Lean implementation. The findings of the study indicate that Lean implementation might be conducted with higher efficiency and productivity by removing the barriers for implementation. This study might guide Lean professionals to align their strategies with Lean practices by knowing and recognizing the main barriers.

3. Building a Lean Culture: Engaging the Value Stream


This paper presents an analysis of a Lean Leadership (LL) training program initiated by the company about three years ago. The program’s main goal is to disseminate Lean throughout the company, which has been using Lean principles in its projects for about twenty years. So far, the LL program has reached over four hundred participants. Over the last year, the program included participants from the company’s extended value stream. Participants include project teams and the company’s strategic partners for prefabrication, equipment rental, and VDC/Project Controls support services. As part of the program, authors one and two visited participants to understand how they are applying lean leadership principles. This paper, the third in the series of building a Lean culture, shares success stories on how organizations in the company’s value stream applied LL knowledge to their business including value stream mapping, Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), go and see, and effective meetings. It also presents how these teams will continue their LL training to further build a Lean culture which the company can learn from its strategic partners while driving home a common purpose.

4. Capability-Building Competition in Construction: Case Study Reinterpretation


This industry paper is applied research with the purpose of answering whether Takahiro Fujimoto’s theory of capability-building competition in the automobile industry can be applied to the construction industry. This study begins with an empirical account of the work a series of project teams did to prefabricate and install exterior wall (X-wall) panels on six different buildings. The authors then explain relevant aspects of Fujimoto theory. Finally, the authors create a framework for evaluating the work in light of this theory and do so. The authors find that Fujimoto’s theory is relevant to construction. This paper is limited because the construction data set is relatively small and the evaluation of the competitiveness of routines and learning is based on the assessment of the first author, who initiated and directly managed the work on two projects and was engaged in its development on later projects. The paper is relevant for industry professionals because Lean management and process capability is required to make value flow to customers. Lean Construction theory can advance by understanding the elements of capability-building in the auto industry and how they can be applied to design and construction.

5. When a Business Case Is Not Enough, Motivation to Work With Lean


Lean practitioners have always been very passionate about sharing their experiences and knowledge so others also can benefit from better processes and reduced waste. When lean practitioners get together to discuss and spread knowledge, the ‘implementation of lean’ is often at the core of the conversation. How do we get others to understand the nature of lean and how do we get them to implement it? Despite clearly documented, positive outcomes and strong business cases, we still encounter resistance and it can be challenging to even get our own colleagues to be engaged with lean. This paper explores what motivates individuals with different project roles to work with lean, when some research shows that knowledge and will is not enough to change. It considers why incentive measures and a focus on time and cost savings could have a negative impact on the motivation to change for some groups. This discussion is supported with survey data and experiences from a major infrastructure project and within the organisation of the client, Highways England.

6. Buffer Management in Takt Planning – An Overview of Buffers in Takt Systems


Takt Planning and Takt Control (TPTC) as a method for construction has the potential to reduce construction time in relation to normal scheduling without the increase of manpower. This leads to the question: what changes with the use of Takt planning? One theory is that Takt planning is using buffers more effectively than other schedule and planning methods. This paper provides an overview of the various buffers in Takt planning and describes how they can be used.

7. The Beauty of a Phase-Overlapping Last Planner System With Incorporated Takt


The purpose of methods and tools is to serve the project team and add value within the project delivery. Therefore, the implemented production system should support the interaction of the project team, enabling team members to develop a common understanding, and to reach the required quality and production performance when carrying out their daily activities. This research concludes that the Last Planner System (LPS) aligns to the Toyota Production System (TPS) and its recognized management theory, which is a vehicle to integrate the minds + hands philosophy within projects from early design phase till handover. Our findings show that adopting the LPS as a production system helps to align and integrate the project participants. Takt is a work structuring tool that can be integrated into the LPS, if the product allows (repeatable areas). Thus, we recommend that the production system be designed based on the team’s needs and the product requests.

8. Can a Takt Plan Ever Survive Beyond the First Contact With the Trades On-Site?


This study takes a critical look at Takt planning and takt control (TPTC) by analysing a successful case project. In the study, the digital system architecture and collected data are used for providing a process break-down and analysis in terms of waste and potential root causes. The paper shows how vulnerable the TPTC is for disruptions caused by a lead waste, making-do/task diminishment, and ad-hoc tolerance management. Based on the digital footprint of the project, an explanation is given why good results in terms of money, customer satisfaction, time and quality were achieved even though the takt was practically lost towards the end of the project. The results indicate that the excellent outcome of the project was not based on TPTC and steep learning curve. Instead, the results were achieved by exploiting the real-time situation awareness provided by the digitalised smart site and disciplined use of applications, as well as by a pragmatic approach to planning and leading work on-site. The validity of the results is limited as the conclusions are drawn based on only one TPTC project.

9.Takt Time Planning in Porsche Consulting, the Boldt Company and Veidekke


In recent years takt time planning has been a more and more utilized method in construction projects. In 2010 the Norwegian contractor Veidekke started their first takt project and have since carried out several projects with the method. The results of these has been wavering from breakdowns of the takt system to great success. It is therefore interesting to see how takt is used by different companies internationally and which experiences these have compared to Veidekke. Through literature reviews, interviews and case studies the paper looks at takt as practiced by Porsche Consulting, The Boldt Company and Veidekke. Their practical applications have a lot in common, but are distinguished – among other things – by the way to involve subcontractors, the types of projects that they use takt on, and how they divide the project into zones. Currently, takt seems to be dependent on key persons familiar with the method, and there is a need for a guideline for takt so more projects can benefit from use of the method.

10. Metrics in VDC Projects


The Norwegian construction industry is far behind other industries when it comes to productivity. To improve productivity several contractors take advantage of methodologies such as Virtual Design and Construction (VDC). VDC is about streamlining projects in a Lean context with tools like Last Planner, ICE, BIM and metrics. Although few studies have been found on metrics in VDC projects, it appears evident that metrics are important for continuous improvement. However, selecting adequate metrics is challenging, as they can require more than they give in return. The study answers three research questions; (1) “How are building design processes measured?” (2) “Which main design phase challenges can be resolved with metrics?” and (3) “Which metrics should be used in future VDC projects?” The methods used have been a qualitative case study of a Norwegian contractor’s first implementation of VDC, as well as personal interviews with experienced design managers. The implication of the study is a list with six basic metrics for the building design processes of VDC projects, based on challenges in Norwegian construction projects. Seven additional metrics for continuous project improvement are also presented.

11. Theory of Quality Management: Its Origins and History


Purpose: Determination of the theoretical and philosophical foundations of quality management, as they have evolved and changed over time. Methodology/Approach: Conceptual and historical. Findings: At the origin of the quality movement, Shewhart defined quality through an account of production (later called value generation theory), and suggested the scientific model (later to be named as Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, PDCA) as the epistemology for improving quality. Somewhat later, Deming recommended ideas falling into process ontology as applicable in the quality context. These prescriptions were not presented in terms of theory, epistemology or ontology but through examples. Perhaps partly for that reason, in subsequent developments these prescriptions were often forgotten or rejected. Especially, the ISO standard for quality management rediscovered the original PDCA epistemology only in 2015. Thus, the degeneration of the original theoretical and philosophical foundation seems to be one of the longstanding problems in the area of quality. On the other hand, it has turned out that the value generation theory of production is a partial theory. As the success of the lean movement indicates, production should also be seen through the flow theory. The achievement of quality can, for its part, also be explained through this flow theory of production. However, there has been very little theoretical work both regarding production and quality, and thus the integration of theories on production has not been achieved. Lacking theoretical evolution is another long-standing problem that arguably has hindered the progress of quality. Research implication: The findings call for a sustained effort to explicate and develop the theoretical and philosophical foundation of quality management. Originality/Value of paper: It is widely perceived that quality as a managerial focus has lost its attraction in the last two decades. In this presentation, the argument that weaknesses of the theoretical and philosophical foundation of quality have contributed to this lack of attraction is forwarded.

12. Principles of Mistakeproofing and Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ)


To err is human but people can design and make systems that are less error-prone, and more fail-safe and defect-free than many are today. One such lean design practice is called mistakeproofing (poke yoke). It is integral to the Toyota Production System and successfully practiced in numerous industry sectors. Mistakeproofing is not as widelynor as intentionally practiced in the Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) industry as it could be. To promote conceptual understanding and adoption, this paper presents 6 mistakeproofing principles. To further spur innovative mistakeproofing practices, it also presents the 40 principles of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ). Mistakeproofing examples from the AEC industry demonstrate how these two sets of principles can be directly linked to rationalize existing mistakeproofing practices and, in addition, to potentially design “innovative” ones. As such, this paper supports the drive for industry innovation in developing products and processes of greater quality and thereby contribute to construction industry performance improvement.


From the papers and research of the IGLC, we can see that research in Lean Design and Construction is a vibrant area. There is a lot that we can learn, improve, and experiment. Research is occurring on many fronts including: theory on production, understanding value, Takt Time, mistakeproofing, Target Value Delivery, collaborative decision-making, industry applications of Lean methods, and many more. The IGLC 2020 will take place in Cusco, Peru. If you are interested in engaging with the Lean Construction community and learning about the cutting edge knowledge and research in this field, I welcome you to join the conference in 2020. There will be a great learning experience, social events, and hiking opportunities in Peru.

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