Are Tools and Training Enough - An Argument for Leadership

Juho-Pekka Hämäläinen1, Glenn Ballard2 & Jan Elfving3

1Development Manager, Skanska Finland, juho-pekka.hamalainen@skanska.fi
2Research Director, Project Production Systems Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, ballard@ce.berkeley.edu
3Head, Nordic Procurement Unit, Skanska AB, Jan.Elfving@skanska.fi

Abstract

In 2006, Skanska Finland began implementation of lean production management based on Last Planner® and location based scheduling. This paper reports what was done to implement lean production management, what happened, and what was learned. Implementing lean practices is notoriously challenging, not least because organizations and individuals need to change their behavior. The more extensive and fundamental the change needed, the greater the challenge. Implementing Last Planner is a fundamental change: from commanding to requesting, from planning by planners to planning by doers, from managing contracts to managing production. Location based scheduling is also challenging. The mainstream activity breakdown structures are subordinated to location breakdown structures. Managing the flow of trades through locations is quite different from managing each trade task-by-task. Not surprisingly, implementation has not gone smoothly. Early assumptions that successful pilot projects would ‘infect’ others proved false. Habits proved hard to break, perhaps in part because reward systems pushed managers into short-term thinking. In response, staff personnel were asked to drive implementation. That also failed. In the last three years, from 2010 through 2013, progress has been made standardizing planning and scheduling processes and tools and extensive training has been provided in their use. Some senior managers believe that will be sufficient to change behavior and to achieve better project performance and better corporate profitability. While there is some evidence of improvement, both the published literature and Skanska Finland’s own experience suggest that change in behavior and outcomes will be limited and in danger of reversal until line managers from top to bottom lead the change. This paper provides support for this claim through a review of the literature and through a case study that illustrates what line managers can do to provide the needed leadership.

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Reference

Hämäläinen, J. , Ballard, G. & Elfving, J. 2014, 'Are Tools and Training Enough - An Argument for Leadership' 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 1357-1368

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