Lean Foundations


Participation in The Last Planner System (LPS®) teaches-by-doing such foundational behaviors as collaboration, transparency, long-term and short-term planning, making work ready, making clear commitments, reliable promising, accountability and metrics – all in a clear, living example of the colorful, visual workplace.

LPS was developed by Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell based on trial and error in practice and it elegantly addresses principles related to production theories and organizational management, which are discussed here.

These historic Lean principles include:

  • Building Social Networks
    • Coaching, leadership, open participation (teamwork, collaboration, transparency), trust building.
  • Addressing Multiple Needs in a Dynamic Environment
    • Learning, continuous improvement and goal-driven behaviors
    • Systemic thinking/behavior
  • Treating Construction Projects as Production Systems
    • Use of pull and promotion of flow
    • Use of small batches
    • Recognition of uncertainty and the need to continuously adjust planning
    • Definition of clear production goals and metrics

There is more theory behind the LPS than is usually recognized by many academics and practitioners. As a contribution to this discussion, this paper presents examples from construction projects which have implemented the LPS and links them to behaviors that emerge from LPS implementation.

LPS teaches teams the entire process of Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) and PDCA becomes woven into trust-building, because using LPS (Planning) builds trust due to the making and keeping of reliable promises across siloed companies and through behaving (Doing) in predictable, transparent and monitored (Checked) ways and learning (Acting/Adjusting) together. Three main sets of behaviors related to or promoted by the LPS were identified: building social networks, addressing multiple needs in a dynamic environment, and treating construction projects as production systems. As a contribution, examples from construction projects implementing LPS are presented and linked to behaviors that emerge from LPS implementation. Examples illustrating the three behaviors reveal different instances in which these behaviors materialized and might have served as “a-ha!” moments for the teams involved.

Read the full paper here.

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