Implementing Lean: UK Culture and System Change

Eric Johansen1, Geoff Porter2 & David Greenwood3

1Director of Student Affairs, School of the Environment, Northumbria University, Ellison Place Newcastle upon Tyne, NEl, 8ST, UK. 0191-227-4720, eric.johansen@northumbria.ac.uk
2Senior Researcher, Sustainable Cities Research Institute, Northumbria University, 6 North Street East, Newcastle upon Tyne, NEl, 8ST, UK, geoff.porter@northumbria.ac.uk
3Associate Dean, School of the Environment, Northumbria University, Ellison Place Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1, 8ST, UK. 0191-227-4691, david.greenwood@northumbria.ac.uk

Abstract

For the IGLC 11 Conference the authors reported the results of implementing Last Planner™ methods with a large UK contracting company. The projects studied demonstrated some success but also some cultural, organizational and systemic barriers to its effective implementation. Alarcon and Conte's White Paper for the IGLC11 conference discussed these issues and invited researchers to consider them. In response, the authors have reflected upon and critically re-analysed the research as a means to re-focus their future work in implementing Lean Construction methods in UK construction. Based on a review of the literature on construction culture we have identified theoretical factors that, together with Alarcon and Conte's list of critical organizational elements, provide a framework against which the results of the research have been considered. We conclude that the implementation of Last Planner was hindered by not fully considering cultural, organizational and systemic problems and by failing to recognize how deep-seated these problems could be. We intend, in future projects, to take a more considered, and wider approach to Lean Construction (possibly using the LCI's Lean Project Delivery System) and to focus our attention upon construction ventures where efforts at culture change have already started - in particular, where strategic partnering arrangements are in place.

Keywords

Last Planner, construction culture, cultural barriers, implementation

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Reference

Johansen, E. , Porter, G. & Greenwood, D. 2004, 'Implementing Lean: UK Culture and System Change' In:, Bertelsen, S. & Formoso, C.T., 12th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Helsingør, Denmark, 3-5 Aug 2004.

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