The following is a list of key Lean Construction Capabilities that enable sectoral organisations to implement Lean thinking and practices in the design and delivery of capital projects. Additionally, these capabilities are integral to the LCi Commendation evaluation of Lean Service Providers.



Lean Construction Capabilities





A3 Problem Solving


Choosing By Advantages (CBA)

Collaborative Contracting

Direct Observation

Early Supply Chain Engagement

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)



Last Planner® System (LPS)

Leader Standard Work (LSW)


Process Mapping/Value Stream Mapping

Project Production Management (PPM)

Project & Site Induction

Target Value Design (TVD)

Visual Management

No requirement for this Capability

Widely used in this Stage of the Process

Less applicable at this Stage of the Process

Lean Construction Capabilities

CapabilityCapability DescriptorRecommended Reading/Links
A3 Problem SolvingA3 Problem Solving is a structured and collaborative approach to problem solving in support of continuous improvement. Process steps include: i) describing the problem and current state conditions; ii) identifying the goal; iii) identifying root causes; iv) identifying an action plan; and v) confirming that the action prevented the problem reoccurring. The entire process is captured on an A3 sheet which acts as a visual storyboard for the improvement initiative.Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process, by John Shook
5S5S is a system of organising the workplace so that work may be performed efficiently, effectively, and safely. This system focuses on eliminating unnecessary items, locating everything where it belongs, and keeping the workplace clean. A neat and orderly environment makes it easier for people to do their jobs without wasting time or risking injury.Click Here
Choosing By Advantages (CBA)CBA is a structured and transparent decision-making methodology that strives to yield optimal decisions based on the importance of advantages between available alternatives. CBA is used in progressive construction projects to support set-based design and target value design.Click Here
Collaborative ContractingThere are a number of standard form contracts that have been designed to incorporate and promote collaboration between the key parties involved in a construction project. Collaborative Contracting is typically based on an Integrated Form of Agreement (IFoA): a multi-party agreement that includes the owner, design professionals, and contractors as signatories to the same contract. It is a relational-based contract that spells out commercial terms for project delivery, promotes the use of Lean principles and methods, and is signed by multiple parties agreeing to collaborate on project delivery. To enable the IFoA, an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) system and process is typically in place with the members of the multi-party agreement. 
Direct ObservationDirect Observation is a structured method for critically evaluating a process (not an individual) with a view to delivering an improved process. This method breaks down the observed process into Value-Adding (VA) and Non-Value-Adding (NVA) activities so that teams can improve the process by reducing/removing the NVA activities (8 Wastes).Click Here
Early Supply Chain EngagementEarly Supply Chain Engagement leverages the expertise of stakeholders early in the project cycle – ideally during the pre-design phase. Key contractors and suppliers of materials and equipment are engaged to optimise the performance of the overall project. Up-front engagement and collaboration leverages contractors’ knowledge for the benefit of the project as a whole. It optimises the selection, planning, and delivery of materials, labour, and equipment, thereby reducing costs, lead-times, and risk. The Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) model provides an optimum framework for supply chain engagement early in the project cycle.Total Construction Management: Lean quality in construction project delivery, by John S. Oakland & Marton Marosszeky
Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)IPD is a project delivery system that seeks to align and integrate all project team members’ interests and objectives. Ideally the team is established during the pre-design phase, with members including the client, architect/engineer, general contractor, and key subcontractors. IPD integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimise efficiency through all phases of the project and reduce waste from early design through project handover.



KaizenThe Kaizen philosophy is drawn from the Japanese word kai which means “continuous” and zen which means “improvement” or “wisdom”. Typically it is associated with a rapid improvement event where a cross-functional team focus on the radical improvement of a process over a short period of time. The objective is to plan and execute actions within 3-5 days of working together. After the Kaizen event, the team then monitor the impact of the actions implemented against the goals agreed.Kaizen Express, by Toshiko Narusawa & John Shook
KanbanKanban is a Lean approach to the management of materials (or inventory) on a construction site. Raw materials and parts are ‘pulled’ through systems on a just-in-time (JIT) basis. The objective is to enable a process wherein the required amount of material is located in the right place at the time when it is needed.Click Here
Last Planner® System (LPS)LPS is a production planning system designed to produce predictable work flow and rapid learning in programming, design, construction, and commissioning of projects. It is a collaborative planning process that involves trade foremen or design team leaders (the “last planners”) in planning in greater and greater detail as the time for the work to be done gets closer.Click Here
Leader Standard Work (LSW)Standard Work is a structure and routine that helps leaders shift from a sole focus on results to a dual focus on process plus results. Leader Standard Work is a process that defines “a day/week/month in the life of” a Leader. Applying LSW promotes CI and ensures that critical tasks are completed to support the purpose of the organisation.Click Here
OnboardingOnboarding of Project and Field Personnel is securing the engagement with, and commitment to, the deployment of the Project Lean Program which is supported by senior management and uses Lean thinking, principles, and tools during the design, construction, and commissioning phases. Onboarding typically commences with an interactive induction on the purpose and intent of the Lean Program, and it includes key elements of Lean thinking and principles and the Lean tools appropriate to each work environment. Onboarding is enabled by education, mentoring, and role modelling.Total Construction Management: Lean quality in construction project delivery, by John S. Oakland & Marton Marosszeky
Process Mapping/Value Stream MappingProcess Mapping is the technique of using flowcharts to illustrate the flow of a process, proceeding from the most macro perspective to the level of detail required to identify opportunities for improvement. Process mapping focuses on the work rather than on job titles or hierarchy.Learning to See: Value Stream Mapping to Add Value and Eliminate Muda, by John Shook & Mike Rother
Project Production Management (PPM)PPM is the application of operations management to the delivery of construction projects. The PPM framework is based on looking at a project as a Production System in which a project transforms inputs (raw materials, information, labour, plant and machinery) into outputs (goods and services). The PPM approach focuses on Flow Efficiency, Theory of Constraints, Input-readiness, Th (Throughput), WIP (Work in Process), Ct (Cycle Time), Queuing Theory, and Little’s Law, to optimise construction project delivery.Click Here
Project & Site InductionDuring induction, an overview is provided into Lean construction thinking, principles, and methods. This includes recognising wasteful activities, customer focus, work flow on a Lean construction project and site, and understanding what constitutes the addition of value for the customer, employer, and client. Induction differentiates a Lean construction project and site from a conventional one, and prepares new personnel from day-one for a work environment where Lean is at the heart of the day-to-day operations.



Target Value Design (TVD)Target Value Design describes an approach to construction projects that strives to ensure that the completed project meets the operational needs and values of the end users, and that it is delivered within the allowable budget and timescale. There are a number of practices underlying TVD that differ from traditional construction projects. The most significant is that the “target cost” is treated as an input to, as opposed to an outcome of, the design process. Others include early contractor involvement, shared risk-reward arrangements, real collaboration, continuous estimating, and ongoing commitment to innovation and CI.




Target Value Delivery – Practitioner Guide to Implementation – Current State 2016, by LCI (USA)

Visual ManagementThe Lean construction workplace is an orderly, safe, and self-cleaning environment where new standards quickly expose abnormal conditions, thereby enabling speedy analysis and remedial action. Mechanisms are put in place that reduce or eliminate defects, gap-outs, queues, and other visually apparent wastes. Visual Management creates a more integrated construction workplace, enables rapid decision making, and makes for a more pleasant environment in which to work.

Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, by James P. Womack & Daniel T. Jones.

Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, by Taiichi Ohno