Applying Lean in Construction - Cornerstones for Implementation

Aki Pekuri1, Maila Herrala2, Aki Aapaoja3 & Harri Haapasalo4

1Ph.D. student,
2Post-doctoral research fellow,
3Ph.D. student,


The majority of lean transformations fail to meet their initial expectations and end up as disappointments. Excessive focus on specific tools and failure to understand the philosophy or to motivate people in continuous improvement are often blamed for this. This research explores the cornerstones for successful lean implementation in the construction business. Research results based on 39 semi-structured interviews conducted in Finland and California suggest that managers should pay attention to the following aspects: building trust, motivation, ensuring skills and competence, developing and selecting the right people, and providing leadership. In general, lean should be embraced as a comprehensive management philosophy which requires a long-term viewpoint in order to achieve competitive advantage. In construction, it is important to pay attention to the way people are recruited, emphasize their social skills, and develop them through training. Building trust and constructing project teams based on participants’ suitability and competence will help to move the industry forward, but managers should also learn to take advantage of crises, when organizations are at their most receptive.


Lean construction, transformation, culture, change, implementation.



Pekuri, A. , Herrala, M. , Aapaoja, A. & Haapasalo, H. 2012, 'Applying Lean in Construction - Cornerstones for Implementation' 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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