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.
Projects can be understood as social systems where the purpose is aligned within the team. To achieve project goals the team must fulfill their commitments. The planned actions and the interactions between the stakeholders are critically important.
Within the scope of these social systems, stakeholders observe, listen, laugh and argue with each other. LPS facilitates direct and plain communication between the last planners who communicate with each other on an equal basis. Exchanging and understanding each other's requirements directly generates a robust commitment matrix to deliver the planned activities. Promises become reliable and value is created1.
The marked increase of reliable commitments is demonstrated by the improvement in the project’s technical system. The committed and engaged attitude during decision making scenarios involves them in the collaborative planning methodology. As a consequence, stabilized scenarios emerge, tasks are completed more reliably, and projects flow more smoothly.
The LPS also fosters a strong work discipline. The approach to project planning and control incorporates a collective discipline which generates a group of collaborative habits that become critical success factors. Commitment and discipline are two sides of the same coin.
The interaction of wills, discipline and commitment results in a collective intelligence. This helps to determine objectives and can exceed individual criteria. The greater participation of the people closest to the work triggers opportunities while exploring alternative solutions. This generates creative behaviors within the team and motivates them to achieve the project’s goals.
The LPS uses a collaborative work methodology articulated by commitment, disciple, and collective intelligence. This methodology provides the ability to adapt to variable and uncertain environments - a key characteristic of the current and future state of the construction industry. A construction project is understood as a socio-technical system. The LPS focuses on the social system and is a gateway to lean behaviors2. It transforms the group of people involved into a team. Within this team, participants will know how to prioritize for the common purpose while also serving their own individual interest.
1. Macomber, H. , Howell, G.A. & Reed, D. 2005, 'Managing Promises With the Last Planner System: Closing in on Uninterrupted Flow' In:, 13th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Sydney, Australia, 19-21 Jul 2005. pp 13-18
2. Fauchier, D. & Alves, T.D.C.L. 2013, 'Last Planner® System Is the Gateway to Lean Behaviors' In:, Formoso, C.T. & Tzortzopoulos, P., 21th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Fortaleza, Brazil, 31-2 Aug 2013. pp 559-568