Centred Flows: A Lean Approach to Decision Making and Organisation

John Rooke1, Lauri Koskela2, Sven Bertelsen3 & Guilherme Henrich4

1Research Fellow, School of Construction and Property Management – University of Salford, 4th Floor, Maxwell Building, The Crescent, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, UK, Phone +44 161 2956344, FAX +44 161 2954587, j.rooke@salford.ac.uk
2Professor, School of Construction and Property Management – University of Salford, 4th Floor, Maxwell Building, The Crescent, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, UK, Phone +44 161 2957960, FAX +44 161 2954587, l.j.koskela@salford.ac.uk
3MSc, Consulting Engineer, External Lecturer, Danish Technical University, Roennebaervej 10, app 108, 2840 Holte, DK Denmark, Phone +45 4542 4705, sven@bertelsen.org
4Civil Engineer, M.Sc., MBA, Ph.D. candidate, School of Construction and Property Management – University of Salford, 4th Floor, Maxwell Building, The Crescent, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, UK, Phone +44 161 2954143, FAX +44 161 2954587, g.henrich@pgr.salford.ac.uk

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Lean Theory, Flows, Operations, Organisation, Competence

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Reference

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

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