Lean construction is a production management system to build relationships and eliminate waste from the entire construction process to deliver greater value to clients. This approach manages and improves all construction processes with minimum cost and maximum value.
The Guiding Principles
The guiding principles of Lean construction are:
- Inclusion: The best results are achieved by collaborating diverse teams that share decision-making and psychological safety.
- Transparency: To be open, honest, empathetic, and straightforward in dealings with members, customers, stakeholders, and each other.
- Service: Meet people where they are, listen to understand, help them to learn by doing, and support them on their journey.
- Courage: To refuse to shy away from the most important challenges and tackle the issues.
Respect for People
Respect for people is the cornerstone of lean thinking. Lean construction encourages respecting the contribution of everyone. People are critical to the success of Lean project delivery. Lean project delivery supports making all processes transparent and optimizes the processes and flows within the design and the construction work.
As well as intending to reduce the physical waste of construction materials, lean construction also focuses on eliminating waste through project lifecycles. Waste is effort or resource utilization that does not create value; this includes wasted time, wasted movement, and wasted human potential. An effort is required to identify and remove this waste. Not all waste can be eliminated, but practitioners are encouraged to minimize as much waste as possible.
Standardized processes and leveling flow are best to optimize a value stream. Standardized practices can be repeated constantly and become a starting point for ongoing improvement. Leveling workflow helps to allow consistent output and predictable results.
A mindset of constant improvement is encouraged. This requires leaders to create an atmosphere where experimentation is encouraged and continuously improved. This improvement and innovation can benefit entire value streams.
Benefits of Lean Construction
- High-quality work
- Increased worker satisfaction
- On-time project completion, or earlier
- Improved risk management
- Client satisfaction
- Reduced waste
- Decreased project costs
- Happier, less stressful workers
- Effective and reliable supply chain management
In lean construction, every decision is intended to maximize value for the client with the client’s goals in mind. A notable study in 2018 found that companies using the most effective lean construction methods completed 45% of projects early and delivered 70% of them under budget.