Koskela has argued that the flow conception of production is a key to understanding and generating improvement innovations. However, it has tended to be assumed that this view is appropriate for the analysis of processes, rather than of operations. However, it is notable that Shingo also conceives of operations in terms of flows. The flow conception treats the process holistically, as a continuum, time is central to understanding them. Events, rather than objects, are key units. It is argued here that the key distinction between a process flow and an operational flow is that processes are essentially passive, acted upon by operations. Conversely, operations, whether human or mechanical, have the quality of intentionality. It is suggested that the idea of 'competence', borrowed from ethno methodology is a prime analytic device for understanding operational flows. Human activities have the quality that they can be understood as practical competencies or abilities that we can acquire for ourselves. It is suggested that we can extend production theory to examine the production of organisation, as distinct from its usual focus on the organisation of production. The organisations which design, construct and manage the built environment may be viewed as social processes which are produced in the exercise of the operational competences of their memberships.
Lean Theory, Flows, Operations, Organisation, Competence
Rooke, J. , Koskela, L. , Bertelsen, S. & Henrich, G. 2007, 'Centred Flows: A Lean Approach to Decision Making and Organisation' In:, Pasquire, C.L, C.L. & Tzortzopoulos, P., 15th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. East Lansing, Michigan, USA, 18-20 Jul 2007. pp 27-36