The Power of Lean Principles

John Skaar1

1Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Science, Department of Engineering Sciences, Univ. of Agder, Norway, + 47 919 09 313, [email protected]


This article supports previous publications on the importance of lean principles as guidelines (Liker, 2004) or as challengers when developing systems and frameworks (Ballard, Hammond, & Nickerson, 2009) and even methods and tools (Santos, 1999). It seems that the principles have taken the position of being a significant part of lean thinking, meaning a knowledge that lean personnel should acquire. This article wants to support and emphasise the importance of lean principles as rules of living but believes in taking the power of the lean principles one step further. If a lean organisation, project or leader explicitly confronts each other with the principles, this empowers the individuals being challenged and may create an outcome that closely links the employee's know-how to the process. Using lean principles as the main message to be understood, they may pull in tools, methods, frameworks or systems to answer these principles. This paper reports from research that explores the effect of pushing lean principles as the direct challenger on employees. Skilled workers at construction sites are the receiver of both general principles but mainly rephrased into more operational language.


Principles, philosophy, continuous improvement, action research, waste.



Skaar, J. 2019, 'The Power of Lean Principles' In:, Proc. 27th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Dublin, Ireland, 3-5 Jul 2019. pp 393-404

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