Contact Information

Several institutions have formed over the past 30 years aimed at improving the performance of the construction industry. Among those institutions are the Construction Industry Institute (CII), the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) and the Project Production Institute (PPI), each of which has developed philosophies and techniques based on their understanding of the root causes of problems experienced on large projects. While there are considerable differences in how each group understands and approaches industry challenges it is not widely recognized that each originated from a common set of ideas promoted by a small group of pioneers. I have been participating in each of those institutions since their earliest days and have joined a team to explore not only the common origins but also how the ideas of these organizations can combine, rather than offset one another. We hope better projects and better project experiences will be the result. It turns out there is more in common than in opposition and we need the combined efforts of each organization if we hope to meet the industry’s upcoming demands. We are calling the combined approach NextGen Project Delivery.

Please note that this is written as a story as I remember living through it, not a research paper. This paper draws upon several presentations and papers prepared by this group. The graphics shown were part of presentations at Group ASI’s AWP Conference and the LCI Congress in October 2023.

Lean Construction emerged in the 1990s with the formation of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) and an early focus on improving the reliability of weekly field commitments via the Last Planner System®. Some of the major ideas emerging from LCI are shown in the diagram below, starting with a bold statement that the underlying production system of the industry was "broken”: Production system design was part of Lean Construction before it was labeled “Lean Construction”.

Other ideas, such as viewing the project as a Network of Commitments and understanding the social dynamics of project delivery emerged and were incorporated into “LCI thinking” as did the recognition that traditional contracting practices, based on transactions, could severely impede the smooth work flow. The concept of Relational Contracting entered the conversation leading to Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Target Value Delivery (TVD). This focus on relationships and collaborative contracting became primary areas of focus for LCI as we entered the 2000s. IPD engages key trade contractors and other stakeholders as “partners” to develop the project scope and design using highly interactive and collaborative processes. The Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA) was created to formalize the relational aspects of the new commercial arrangements. IPD concepts focused on industrial construction were embraced by CII Research Teams under the label of “I2PD”, or IPD for Industrial Projects. The CII group created a commercial framework somewhat like the IFOA.

Advanced Work Packaging found its origins in industrial construction and was initially focused on improving “time on tools” – the percentage of a worker’s day spent installing things rather than waiting. Members of The Construction Owner’s Association of Alberta (COAA) recognized and embraced the key ideas of the original version of the Last Planner System® focusing on enhanced constraint removal – something that would benefit any project. The COAA team created an enhanced work process named Workface Planning to assure that field crews were provided with everything they needed to complete their work efficiently, including information, tools, and materials.

Workface Planning evolved to become Advanced Work Packaging over the years as shown in the diagrams below as practitioners recognized the need for an improved upstream organization.

AWP generally did not, however, adopt LCI’s thinking about relational contracting or the importance of reliable commitments, possibly because of underlying commercial governance that would not allow the team-based relational approach built into IPD. The underlying paradigms of that operating system, including a hierarchical work breakdown structure, largely preclude much of current IPD and TVD practice and likely represent the biggest difference between AWP and IPD projects.

Project Production Institute (PPI) was founded in 2013 to renew focus on one of Lean Construction’s original big ideas - the recognition that construction projects involve very complex production systems that are subject to the principles of Operations Science.

There was a belief that LCI’s embrace of relational contracting and networks of commitments was diminishing the importance of the most important idea – improving the underlying production system. It is noteworthy that 3 of the 4 founders of LCI were instrumental in founding PPI, sometimes viewed as an institution competing with the one they formed in 1997. I recall understanding that PPI was not disputing that contracts and relationships were important but rather that LCI has simply lost focus on improving production systems.

The PPI community continues to advance their thinking, primarily applied to large-scale industrial projects, as shown in the diagram below developed by James Choo.

PPI took note of, and exception to, the manner in which AWP practices could tend to exacerbate underlying production issues rather than mitigate them. While the LCI approach may place inadequate attention on Operations Science the AWP-based organization was seen as creating barriers.

CII’s Integrated Project Delivery for Industrial Projects (I2PD)

CII took note of the emerging IPD practice and launched Research Teams RT-341 and RT-383 to explore why IPD was not more commonly adopted by industrial project owners and to develop recommendations for successful implementation. I participated in those efforts, too, albeit indirectly. The CII research teams have developed a set of key methods based for Collaborative Contracting heavily influenced by LCI’s work and the Alliancing concepts developed in Australia as shown in the following diagrams. A key finding of the research teams was that project risk was reduced as more of the methods were employed.

The CII team did not, initially fully address Operations Science from PPI or the powerful make-ready aspects of AWP but has since added these concepts to their roster of recommended methods as noted in the highlights on the list above.

Re-Connecting Like-Minded Thinkers.

Despite the clear common origins, proponents of LCI, CII (AWP) and PPI tended to grow apart over the years and were sometimes critical of the other schools of thought in public forums. This seemed strange to me, as I had been closely involved with each organization and recognized the common roots. By chance, I encountered Fernando Espana at a Construction Users Round Table (CURT) event. Fernando was one of the earliest participants in LCI and had subsequently worked with Strategic Project Solutions, whose founders were a driving force in creating PPI. Fernando had helped me apply the SPS system on a large-scale microelectronics project that delivered spectacular results. I was surprised to find Fernando promoting AWP, which led to an interesting discussion as we shared observations that the various schools of thought had more in common than commonly recognized and each could benefit from a combined effort. Not long after that a Joint Working Group was formed, sponsored by CII, to link Lean thought-leaders with the AWP community. I was pleasantly surprised by the willingness of the AWP community to consider Lean ideas and recognize the potential of Operations Science.

I encountered Todd Zabelle and James Choo, founders of SPS and PPI, at a memorial service not long after the Joint Working Group was formed. They quickly saw the potential value of combining efforts and PPI subsequently joined our working group to create NextGen project delivery, combining the strengths of Lean Construction, AWP and Operations Science to create new understandings of the underlying issues facing construction and new thinking to deal with them. Key members of the CII I2PD movement also signed on. Our mission looks something like what is shown below, which may still be a little light on production systems design.

Wrap Up

Nobody is suggesting the consolidation of these ideas into a delivery platform will be easy, but several of us believe it could be a powerful and necessary step in the right direction. Specific implementation guidelines and an Implementation Roadmap are in the works and will be presented at various industry events in the coming months. In the meantime, I hope you have a refreshed perception of the roots of some of the key movements developing within our industry and an interest in helping us move forward.


No account of the formation of Lean Construction and the subsequent movements that it inspired would be complete without acknowledging the founders of LCI: Greg Howell, Glenn Ballard, Iris Tommelein and Todd Zabelle. Hal Macomber became a key contributor almost as early and, along with Greg, introduced the concepts of relational contracting and the Network of Commitments. Will Lichtig connected with us in 2001 and formalized IPD with the first IFOA.

Fernando Espana, James Choo, Michael Debreuil, Mark Childerson, and Nick Wann have been steady contributors to the NextGen team and very patient in accommodating my stories and ideas. The suggestion of Doanh Do to draft this story is also appreciated.

add one

John Strickland has been a pioneer in bringing innovative thinking to the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) industry with passion for workplace safety, learning, innovation and creating smooth flow based on Lean project delivery principles. His track record as a senior construction manager included a series of breakthrough projects in the areas of safety, cost, schedule, and team satisfaction made possible by the focus on flow and integration. He has introduced Lean IPD thinking to countless teams and has been a key resource for 3 clients as they transformed their project delivery organizations to follow the Lean IPD model.