Guidelines for the Management of Complex Socio Technical Systems

Tarcisio A. Saurin1, John Rooke2, Lauri Koskela3 & Sérgio Kemmer4

1Associate Professor, Industrial Engineering and Transportation Department, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil,
2Research Fellow, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, UK,
3Professor, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford,
4PhD student, School of the Built Environment, The University of Salford, (scholarship granted by CNPq, Brazil)


While lean construction supports the management of complexity, a set of guidelines has not yet been articulated and explicitly linked to complex systems theory. In this study, six guidelines for managing complex socio-technical systems (CSS), proposed by the authors of this paper in an earlier work, are adopted as a basis. The guidelines are: (a) design slack; (b) encourage diversity of perspectives when making decisions; (c) anticipate and monitor the impact of small changes; (d) monitor the gap between guideline and practice; (e) give visibility to processes and outcomes; and (f) create an environment that supports resilience. The applicability of the guidelines to construction is illustrated by an exploratory study of a refurbishment project. Also, as the use of the guidelines only makes sense in a CSS, the investigated project is described according to a set of characteristics of complexity.


Complex systems, socio-technical systems, refurbishment.



Saurin, T.A. , Rooke, J. , Koskela, L. & Kemmer, S. 2013, 'Guidelines for the Management of Complex Socio Technical Systems' In:, Formoso, C.T. & Tzortzopoulos, P., 21th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Fortaleza, Brazil, 31-2 Aug 2013. pp 13-22

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