“Keep all plans, at every level of detail, in public view at all times.”

This rule is one of twelve that comes from the Current Process Benchmark for the Last Planner System (© 2016) document prepared by Glenn Ballard and Iris Tommelein as part of their work at the Project Production System Laboratory based at the University of California, Berkeley.

The idea of rules for the Last Planner System reminds me of the Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs character from NCIS. He has a rule for just about every life situation, and everybody that works with him knows each rule by its number.

Last Planner Rule 1 is so simple, and yet so neglected. First, let’s list the plans every project ought to have.

  • Milestone plan
  • Phase plans (ideally consolidated to make flow visible)
  • Make ready look ahead plans
  • Constraint logs with make ready commitments
  • Weekly work plans
  • Percent plan complete, tasks made ready, tasks anticipated, plan variance learning plans
  • Workflow batch plans
  • First run study and prototyping plans
  • Value stream maps for key support processes

Now let’s list where these plans can be posted.

  • The collaboration space where weekly planning meetings are held
  • Every office outside the collaboration space where project work is done
  • The building construction site, in several locations
  • In work break areas
  • In owner project management and user group offices
  • In supply chain supplier manufacturing and distribution facilities

The reason for this rule is very simple. Everyone on the project has a responsibility in maintaining and improving workflow; and identifying problems that constrain and put plans at risk. Everyone. Not just the project managers and last planners, but also the people performing the work and the stakeholders benefiting from the work. They cannot do that without current information on planned work.

If you are on a Lean project, making an effort to keep current plans in full view of every stakeholder not only expands the visibility of the plans. It also expands the visibility project leaders have on the project by leveraging the talents of the entire pool of project stakeholders.

Be ready to answer when Agent Gibbs asks if you are following Rule 1.