Performance Improvement Programs and Lean Construction

Panagiotis (Takis) Mitropoulos1 & Gregory Howell2

1Process Improvement Coordinator, DPR Construction, 1450 Veterans Blvd, Redwood City, Ca, 94603, (650) 474-1450,
2Executive Director, Lean Construction Institute, Box 1003, Ketchum, ID, 83340, 208/726-9989,


The paper examines the relationship between Lean Construction and Performance Improvement programs in construction organizations. The authors argue that the structure and focus of existing performance improvement programs are a barrier to Lean Construction’s entry into the organization. The paper first analyzes the characteristics of successful performance improvement programs, and develops a model that identifies three critical elements: 1) Time Spent on Improvement, 2) Improvement Skills and Mechanisms, and 3) Improvement Perspective and Goals. The authors identify different ways to “structure” the improvement program: outcome focused (such as Critical Success Factors) and process focused (such as Lean Construction). The paper discusses the implications of the different “perspectives” and argues that they lead to different improvement approaches each reflecting different paradigms for the nature of the change. The authors propose that “result-focused” improvement programs may be a barrier to the adoption of Lean Construction.


Lean construction, Implementation, Improvement programs



Mitropoulos, P.(. & Howell, G. 2001, 'Performance Improvement Programs and Lean Construction' In:, Ballard, G. & Chua, D., 9th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Singapore, Singapore, 6-8 Aug 2001.

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