Leadership and Cultural Change: Necessary Components of a Lean Transformation

Janette A. Keiser1

1Owner, J. Keiser & Associates and the Lean Leadership Project. 17515 Virginia Point Rd NE, Poulsbo, WA, 98370, USA, Phone +1 (206) 714-8955, jan@keisergroup.com


Some of the presenters at the Lean Construction Institute’s 2010 and 2011 Lean Congresses reported that organizations on Lean Construction journeys must undergo a cultural change as an essential element of their transformation (Giuzio 2010, Lichtig 2010, Angelo 2010, Izuierdo 2010, Montero 2010). Some also identified effective leadership as an important element of successful cultural change (Giuzio 2011, Lichtig 2011, Angelo 2011, Reiser 2011, Laski 2011, McCready 2011, Lindsey 2011). Some companies have detoured from Lean because they didn't know how to make the cultural change necessary to create company-wide transformation (Beaudoline 2011, Heger 2011, Knapp 2011, Fauchier 2011, Osterling 2011, Robinson 2011, Holzemer 2011, Moore 2011). What is “cultural change” and "effective leadership" in the context of a Lean Construction transformation? This paper describes the preliminary results of research relating to the cultural change of construction companies on Lean journeys. It addresses leadership’s role in making a cultural change to Lean. The paper is based on presentations by Lean practitioners, interviews with CEOs, project managers, superintendents and others who have been on Lean Construction journeys as well as a literature search of organizational development models that could help construction leaders create the cultural change necessary to sustain Lean. The paper identifies a model, borrowed from research related to high performance teams, which could help support a Lean transformation.


Lean construction, leadership, organizational change, collaboration, commitment, perspective, trust.



Keiser, J.A. 2012, 'Leadership and Cultural Change: Necessary Components of a Lean Transformation' In:, Tommelein, I.D. & Pasquire, C.L., 20th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. San Diego, USA, 18-20 Jul 2012.

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