A Mentoring Approach to Implement Lean Construction

Patricia Tillmann1, Glenn Ballard2 & Iris Tommelein3

1Postdoctoral Scholar at Project Production Systems Laboratory (p2sl.berkeley.edu), Civil andEnvironmental Engineering Department, Univ. of California, Berkeley, 407 McLaughlin Hall, CA94720-1712, USA, Phone +1 (415) 802-9213, patriciatillmann@berkeley.edu
2Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Research Director of the ProjectProduction Systems Laboratory (p2sl.berkeley.edu), 212 McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California,Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, Phone +1 (415) 710-5531, ballard@ce.berkeley.edu
3Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Director of the ProjectProduction Systems Laboratory (p2sl.berkeley.edu), 212 McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California,Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, Phone +1 (510) 643-8678, tommelein@ce.berkeley.edu

Abstract

This study was motivated by the need to implement lean construction in a concrete division recently established by a general contracting firm that has been an advocate of lean for several years. After observing difficulties to implement lean in the first project undertaken by this concrete division, the research team decided to adopt an alternative approach focused on mentoring and continuous improvement. The objective of the study was to support the concrete team in its development of desired lean behaviors, i.e., focus on process improvement based on continuous cycles of revealing problems and discussing root causes, brainstorming solutions, learning, and changing current practices. The method used in this study was action research, with the researcher being an active participant in the team. The implementation was carried out based on three strategies: (a) lean training, (b) adoption of the Last Plannerâ„¢ System, and (c) continuous improvement workshops. The team then assessed the outcomes of this intervention. The contributions to practice observed in this case study stemmed from a focus on learning (i.e., problem identification, analysis, and solving) in a team environment. Changes in behavior were observed as well as greater awareness of how current practices could be improved. Changes in current practices were a consequence of this greater awareness. Contributions to theory are highlighted in this paper, as we attempt with this research to expand the understanding of means to adopt lean construction in order to successfully effect change in current practices.

Keywords

Lean implementation, Mentoring, Toyota Kata, Continuous improvement

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Reference

Tillmann, P. , Ballard, G. & Tommelein, I. 2014, 'A Mentoring Approach to Implement Lean Construction' In:, Kalsaas, B.T., Koskela, L. & Saurin, T.A., 22nd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Oslo, Norway, 25-27 Jun 2014. pp 1283-1293

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