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Last Planner System – An Incremental Approach to Radical Change in Your Workflow



This post was originally shared on leanconstructionblog.com and can be found here.


The Last Planner System® (LPS) as a whole can radically change the way you plan and execute your construction work. In its entirety LPS can be daunting. It can be easy for someone new to lean construction to shy away from LPS in favor of old planning systems. In today’s fast-paced world of construction, looking at all facets of LPS (Master Planning, Phase Planning, Make-Ready Planning, Weekly Work Planning and Learning) may seem like too much to bite off. You already have deadlines to meet and work to put in place – the last thing you want is another task. What if I told you LPS is not a zero-sum system? What if you could incrementally incorporate LPS into your teams and radically change the way you put work in place? Here are three mindsets to incrementally incorporate LPS into your current construction project.


Don’t get bogged down on not doing it all


LPS is extensive and to truly master it takes years of practice. However, I believe you do not have to do it all to radically change your workflow. Simple implementation of some of the basic parts of the system can quickly change your planning experience.


The best place to start when introducing your teams to LPS is with Weekly Work Planning. Weekly Work Planning makes sense to the field staff because it often mimics the plans they already have in place. All we are asking is they start sharing that plan with the whole team. This part of the system is the “Will” portion - as in the work that WILL be put into place by the team. This is the work that will be completed and is a reliable promise. Starting with Weekly Work Plans can quickly lead to a lean construction staple – Learning.



As you get more and more confident with your Weekly Work Plans, you’ll want to review what your team has accomplished and start tracking some metrics (Percent Plan Complete). By doing this, you have added another ring to your LPS ladder – Learning.




Tackling all of the Last Planner System may be for some, but you don’t have to perfect it all to see a major difference. Starting with Weekly Work Planning will give you more clarity as to what is going on in different areas of your project and you will start to see an increase in communication, coordination and workflow.


Don’t get complacent with where you are


Now that you have implemented Weekly Work Planning on your project, you are a LPS expert, congratulations! Wait, that’s not right. You are ON YOUR WAY to becoming and LPS expert – that sounds better. I am confident that a small taste of LPS will increase your desire to learn and grow, so what next?


After implementing Weekly Work Plans, try starting some Make Ready Planning sessions to identify constraints (and then actively work to remove those constraints). Start to see how the different parts of the Last Planner System come together and grow/feed into one another. You will naturally get better at facilitating each session and see the affect LPS is having on your workflow.


I recommend you check out webinars or other continuing education offerings from the Lean Construction Blog to continue adding to your LPS tool belt.


Remember to reflect on how far you have come


It is important in all aspects of the construction industry to look back and reflect on what you have learned, what has worked and what hasn’t. When first starting to implement the Last Planner System, the process can seem daunting and overwhelming. However, by breaking it down and slowly implementing one part of the system at a time, you will soon be looking back and be in awe of how far you have come. Each time you introduce a new aspect of LPS and it feels difficult or you are not sure if it will take root, reflect back on where you started and remember the change LPS has made to your workflow on site.


The Last Planner System® (LPS) as a whole system can radically change the way you plan and execute your construction work. By breaking down the system into manageable chunks, you will grow and progress as a leader in your company and in the construction industry. Remember - the LPS can be implemented over time as you become comfortable diving deeper into the system. You do not need to start a project fresh to implement these tools and teachings of LPS. You just need to start.


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