Bridging the Gaps – Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Lean Construction

Sven Bertelsen1

1MSc, Research Director, The Benchmark Center for the Danish Construction Sector, Strandgade 27B, 1401 Copenhagen K, DK Denmark. Phone +45 3264 1441. E-mail:


Since the start of the work on the Lean Construction theory and methods in 1993, two major contributions have governed the process as seen from practice. One is Lauri Koskela's understanding of construction as a production, based on the Transformation- Flow-Value concept (the TFV-concept), the other is Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell's Last Planner method of production control. These two contributions still stand as two isolated islands even though a number of ideas have been presented in order to bridge the gap between them, concerning for instance the understanding of project management, the value generation process and the cooperation during the project life cycle. The paper highlights and discusses the primary understanding behind the two main lines of thinking and proposes minor modifications to the two major theories. Three more viewpoints on construction are then proposed as stepping-stones across the gap between the main islands. The use of these principles in project management is briefly touched upon with a reference to recent Danish experiences. Finally, areas for further research are proposed.


Construction, production theory, Last Planner, complexity, project management



Bertelsen, S. 2002, 'Bridging the Gaps – Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Lean Construction' In:, Formoso, C.T. & Ballard, G., 10th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Gramado, Brazil, 6-8 Aug 2002. pp 23-35

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