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, [email protected]
2Research Fellow, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, UK, [email protected]
3Professor, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, [email protected]
4PhD student, School of the Built Environment, The University of Salford, [email protected] (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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