Lean Organization: Exploring Extended Potentials of the Last Planner System

Frtiz Gehbauer1

1Professor, Director of Institute for Technology and Management in Construction (TMB), University of Karlsruhe, Am Fasanengarten, D-76128 Karlsruhe, Germany, gehbauer@tmb.uni-karlsruhe.de


The subject of the paper originated from practical project work in a large organization designing, planning, and supervising public infrastructure projects. This organization can be described as traditional with a lot of regulations but conscious of the fact that project work could be improved. Cooperative phase planning along the lines of the Last Planner System was applied in several pilot projects (design/planning phases only). It became obvious rather quickly that lean approaches on a project level would be limited in developing their potential if the overlying organizational structures and cultures would not offer a commitment to Lean and preparedness to changes. The objective of the paper is to show how these changes can gradually be initiated to overcome the main obstacles as fear, resistance to change, and existing procedures. The main questions are: What are the desirable features of an organization that will support lean project work? Can the Last Planner System play a double role by both improving the project and facilitating gradual changes within the organization? The method adopted in the organization referred to in this paper was to make the project teams acquainted with some selected eye openers of organizational concepts. To discuss the full set of such concepts with the teams would have done no good. This paper gives a report on this selective approach. In this process the Last Planner System is now being used to transfer improvements of motivation, cooperation, transparency, reliability and promises from the project level into the organization.


lean organisation, organisational changes, lean management, last planner system,



Gehbauer, F. 2008, 'Lean Organization: Exploring Extended Potentials of the Last Planner System' In:, Tzortzopoulos, P. & Kagioglou, M., 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Manchester, UK, 16-18 Jul 2008. pp 3-13

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