Tariq Abdelhamid, Ph.D.

Construction Management Program

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CMP831 Lean Construction Principles and Methods

SPRING of every year



Dr. Tariq Abdelhamid, CM-Lean

Associate Professor of Lean Construction

School of Planning, Design and Construction

Chief Lean Performance Officer

Lean Performance Unit

Office of the Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises

Michigan State University

552 West Circle Dr, RM 214/302c

East Lansing, MI 48824

P: 884-4557 /432-6188




Class Meetings:

5:00 PM-8:50PM

309 Human Ecology



Course Overview:

Lean production is a system of production management that was conceived by Toyota Motor Company in the 50s.  In the early 80s, this system has attracted the attention of researchers in production and operations management and numerous studies have been undertaken to unearth its mysteries.  Perhaps the most comprehensive of these studies is the five-year five-million-dollar future of the automobile study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In 1990, Womack et al published the results of this study in a book titled “The Machine That Changed the World”.  The book became a national bestseller and, needless to say, widely publicized Lean Production.  In its editorial review of this publication, the New York Times Magazine stated that “The Fundamentals of this system are applicable to every industry across the globe…[and] will have a profound effect on human society- it will truly change the world.”


Compared to conventional manufacturing principles, products manufactured using lean principles have required significantly less resources to produce and have resulted in the following (Technology Century 10/2001):


1.      Productivity gains of 300 to 400%.

2.      Labor productivity increased an average of 25% a year.

3.      Defect rates reduced from more than 2000 to less than 50 parts per million (PPM) and in many to less than 10 PPM.

4.      Cost of quality cut by over 60%.

5.      Work-in-process inventory slashed by more than 80%.

6.      Revenue per 1000 square feet of factory space was raised 350 %.

Since the early 90s, there has been a growing interest in the manufactured housing community to adopt Lean Production paradigms.  This was a logical consideration given the parallels between product manufacturing and in-plant house manufacturing.  In fact, Toyota has a subsidiary called Toyota Homes that manufactures houses in plants and ships for assembly on sites.


In the late 80s/early 90s, Lauri Koskela, a construction academic, questioned the inability of the construction industry to deliver projects on time, on budget, and at desired quality.  He attributed this inability to the lack of a theory of production in construction.  Concurrently, Greg Howell and Glenn Ballard were experimenting with a management system that can provide reliable workflow on construction sites.   These two efforts formed the beginning of the Lean Construction community, represented in the International Group for Lean Construction (established in 1993), and the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), Founded in 1997.  Both groups are the main powerhouses advocating and conducting research on Lean Construction, which is not only an exercise to adopt lean production in construction.  Lean Construction is not Lean Production applied to construction.  There are similarities but Lean Production and Lean Construction are different.


Lean Construction has escaped canonical definition mainly because Lean principles defy easy characterization.  A frequently referenced definition is that of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI).  According to LCI, Lean Construction is:  a production management-based philosophy emphasizing the need to simultaneously design a facility and its production process while minimizing waste and maximizing value to owners throughout the project phases (including the post-construction phase) by improving performance at the total project level, using a conformance-based vs. a deviation-based performance control strategy, and improving the reliability of work flow among project participants.


 Lean Construction is concerned with the holistic pursuit of concurrent and ‎continuous improvements in all dimensions of the built and natural environment: ‎design, construction, activation, maintenance, salvaging, and recycling ‎‎(Abdelhamid 2007).‎  Incorrectly assumed to be related only to the construction phase of a project, Lean Construction is really Lean in the Construction Industry, with all of the industry’s different providers (owners, architects, engineers, constructors, suppliers, regulators, etc) considered benefactors of what it has to offer. 


In this course, we embrace the following definition for Lean Construction:


“As a philosophy, Lean in the Construction industry seeks the ideal state of designing and constructing a facility that generates value to the client by:

1)     Achieving a state of early and common understanding of client needs and wants among all project participants; and

2)     Doing the right things right the first time during all phases.”


According to Glen Ballard, co-founder of LCI, "Lean project delivery changes the job site concept of reliability, eliminating the 'systemic lying' that pervades traditional project management,” and that “with Lean, control means insuring outcomes starting at the crew level.  A project is truly under control when you do what you say you're going to do and minimize project disruptions."  Greg Howell, also co-founder of LCI, believes that "Understanding the reliable work flow imperative in Lean production runs counter to the construction industry's 'can do' culture. But we must move beyond the deep cultural aspects of that mentality and create a system that cultivates judgment and reliability. We'll never trust each other if we don't become more reliable."


A number of construction companies have embarked on lean conversion initiatives and are starting to reap the benefits.  One practitioner stated, "Lean lowers the 'hair-on-fire' index on our jobs."  The Boldt Company, a national provider of construction, consulting and maintenance services with annual sales volume of $400-million is also embracing Lean Construction principles.  Paul Reiser, Boldt's vice president for production process innovation, cites three reasons for being attracted to Lean:  "First, Lean is simply systematically applied common sense. Second, it is counterintuitive. Unlike anything I've seen before, it causes us to rethink how we manage work. And, finally we saw it as an opportunity to deliver high value facilities to the marketplace in shorter time."



Course Aims:

Lean Construction is a set of principles and methods that significantly and continuously change what and how we build.  The course provides an understanding of Lean Construction principles and methods through reading, lectures, and discussion periods.  Teamwork is emphasized through group projects, and learning is facilitated using educational simulations.


Course Description:

This course targets an understanding and hands-on level competency in a number of Lean Construction principles and methods.  Topics uncovered in the course include:  Lean production principles; Lean Construction principles (Lean Design, Lean Supply, and Lean Assembly).  The Last Planner® System, Work Process Design, Design of Construction Operations are all explored and learned.


Terminal Course Objectives:

This course is intended for students to:

1)     Summarize the history and evolution of production paradigms.

2)     Explain and distinguish the principles of Lean Construction

3)     Discuss and critique Relational Contracting methods such as Integrated Project Delivery and Integrated Lean Project Delivery

4)     Use and compare lean-based productivity improvement techniques to study and improve construction operations

(a)   Work Sampling and Value Stream Mapping in Construction

(b)   Linear Scheduling (time-permitting)

(c)   Discrete-event computer modeling and simulation

5)     Apply the Last Planner® System for production planning and control

6)     Describe System Dynamics and Agent Based modeling ( time-permitting)


Required Background:

Courses: Scheduling and Estimating ( found in CMP411/CMP415 or CMP811/CMP815) or instructor approval.



-        Some aspects of project management (scheduling, estimating), statistics, and probabilities.

-        Proficiency with modern computer applications (e.g., Excel, Access, Visio, AutoCAD, MicroStation).


Recommended background:  MSC800 [or MSC801 concurrently]


Required Material:

1.      Lincoln H. Forbes and Syed M. Ahmed (2010).  Modern Construction: Lean Project Delivery and Integrated Practices – CRC Press.

2.      David Schmidt (2003).  The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work.  Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

3.      Sven Bertelsen (2017).  The Unruly Project: Seven Coherent Essays about the Project and its Management.  Strategisk Raadgivning

4.      Course and reading material: available on

5.      Handout materials (in class).



Optional Reading Material:

6.      Oglesby, Clarkson, Henry Parker and Gregory Howell (1990). Productivity Improvement In Construction. New York: McGraw-Hill.  (Instructor will provide).

7.      Go to and then Suggested Readings on Lean Construction



Evaluation and Grading:




Homework Assignments (includes educational simulations in classes, when indicated) –20%



Questions from Reading Assignments; Quizzes; Educational simulations in class when indicated;  and Other Assignments **–20%



Engagement and involvement in class–5%



Lean-based Performance Improvement Project (VSM) (Group) – 25%



Final Exam 30%










< 70%



**Other assignments may include:  Reading papers and presenting on them and/or critically summarizing them; Attending project meetings and reporting on them; etc.


Weekly reading assignments suggestions:

Read each paper and/or chapter twice:

        First time: get a sense of the issues and the writers approach to them.

        Second time:

        Highlight key ideas/claims the author makes.

        Note how each of the ideas/claims is supported.

        Write your initial reaction to the ideas/claims

        Identify relevance of new ideas/claims to construction and implications and potential actions that you can think of.

        Submit 2 questions per chapter and for which you seek clarification.

        You will be asked to respond to questions from your classmates as well.


Let’s create enriching discussions and conversations in the class.


Course Format:


·        According to the Academic Programs Catalog (2017-2018 – see section General Information, Policies, Procedures and Regulations) ( . CMP831 will fall into one or a hybrid of the following modes of instruction:

*     Lecture: A regularly scheduled class in which the instructor takes the dominant role and the primary emphasis is on transmitting a body of knowledge or information and explaining ideas or principles. Student comments or questions will be accommodated as circumstances permit. In some courses, students may be expected to participate in classroom activities by means appropriate to the subject matter, such as discussion, performance, etc. Information regarding required text and reading list is provided.

*     Recitation: A regularly scheduled interactive class in which the instructor supplements lectures by clarifying concepts and responding to student questions. Students may be expected to participate in classroom activities by means appropriate to the subject matter through discussion, solving problems, or group learning. Papers, projects, etc., may be assigned.

*     Discussion: A regularly scheduled class in which a group of students, under the direction of the instructor, considers predetermined topics, issues, or problems and exchanges evidence, analyses, reactions, and conclusions about them with one another. Papers, projects, etc., may be assigned.  A list of topics for discussion; basic texts, reading list, or other materials are specified. Enrollment normally limited.


Course Guidelines:

1.      Submittals:

·        The due date for all assignments will be firm.  You should plan ahead to avoid conflicts with submittal dates.  You must inform the instructor of such conflicts and, if needed, present appropriate substantiation.

·        Each assignment will be collected at the beginning of class on the due date unless otherwise stated in class or on the assignments.

·        Assignments considered late will be reduced by 20% for each 24 hours delay.

·        Some assignments will be individual work and others will be group work.  You may discuss the principles required to complete assignments with your classmates on individual assignments only.  However, you are expected to hand in (for grading) your own write-up of the solutions.  Copying or rephrasing of someone else’s written work is unacceptable.  On individual or group assignment, specific assignment questions should be directed to the instructor.


2.      If you miss a class, ask your group partner / friend to pick up your copy of the handout and other announcements.  The instructor does not keep extra copies of the handouts.

3.      Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states "the student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." In addition, the Construction Management Program adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades, and in the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades, which are included in Spartan Life; Student Handbook and Resource Guide. Students who plagiarize will receive no credit on assignments.

4.      Religious Observance: If you wish to be absent from class to observe a religious holiday, make arrangements in advance with the instructor.

5.      Dropping this Course: The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (2/1/19). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (2/27/19). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have dropped this course.

6.      Missing Class to Participate in a Required Activity: To be excused from this class to participate in a required activity for another course or a university-sanctioned event, you must provide the instructor with adequate advanced notice and a written authorization from the faculty member of the other course or from a university administrator.

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