Lean Construction

Dr. Menches is the academic liaison and former Co-Chair of the Chicago Lean Construction Institute (LCI) Community of Practice. LCI Chicago is a regional forum where people meet, share experience, learn and connect. This Community of Practice helps owners, architects, designers, engineers, contractors, construction workers, specialty contractors, and suppliers understand and apply the principles of Lean Project Delivery. The invitation is open to all project participants to meet together as a local user group to explore and develop Lean ideas as they work together.

Lean Construction and Lean Project Delivery embrace concepts and techniques originally conceived in the automobile manufacturing industry and adopted by the construction industry. In the manufacturing sector, Lean Production has revolutionized product manufacturing, resulting in significant gains in plant productivity, reliability, and reductions in defects. Similar gains are expected in the construction industry, and Lean principles can be applied both in the field as well as in an organizational setting.

The basic principles that make up a Lean Production System include:

  1. Define value, map the value stream, and identify/eliminate waste
  2. Establish continuous process flow
  3. Implement pull planning and scheduling
  4. Level the workload
  5. Solve quality problems immediately (stop-the-line)
  6. Standardize work tasks and processes
  7. Implement visual control
  8. Use only reliable technology, processes, practices, and people
  9. Develop exceptional leadership
  10. Develop exceptional people
  11. Develop collaborative relationships and build trust
  12. Go to Gemba: See for yourself to understand the problem
  13. Make decisions slowly by consensus and implement rapidly
  14. Develop an excellent organization through continuous improvement and reflection

These principles have been applied in healthcare, higher education, dental practices, manufacturing, and numerous other industries that are committed to bringing greater value to their customers. Furthermore, these principles are being adapted to the construction industry through a continuously evolving process that began in the late 1990s. The process of adaption is on-going, and as such, additional concepts may be introduced in our Lean community of practice that will contribute to the Lean Construction Body of Knowledge. Currently, there is no commonly-accepted definition of Lean Construction; however, Lean can be conceptualized as: a philosophy (i.e., set of beliefs and values) AND a set of 14 principles (defined above) AND a set of associated tools for implementing the principles.

Subpages (1): Lean Resources