The History of LCI: From 1979 - Today


LCI Through the Years

LCI was formed in 1997 by Glenn Ballard and Greg Howell as a way to develop and disseminate knowledge regarding the management of work in projects. Together, they experienced projects being managed by enforcing contracts with little regard for principles and practices of production system design and management. At the time, improving worker productivity was the primary concern of most improvement efforts. However, research suggested that under traditional project planning only 54% of assignments made by foremen to be completed in the week were actually completed. It became apparent that the activity focus of traditional project management and controls was overlooking the causes and consequences of unpredictable workflow.
Our founders realized the construction industry had many of the same problems as those in the manufacturing industry: if you build parts that are not up to spec, there is a great deal of unpredictability as defective parts are introduced into the flow of work. They proposed a similar rule that Taiichi Ohno put into place at Toyota: Say NO. He told workers to stop the line rather than release a defective part or assignment. Saying NO was, and continues to be, a radical act in construction - an industry with deeply-embedded "command and control" practices and traditions.

From 1979 to Today

2 men's hands with one holding a pen and another pointing at 2 sheets of paper
LCI founders Greg Howell and Glenn Ballard meet on a project and begin their lifelong intellectual partnership based on collaboration and learning.
the last planner system board with sticky notes developed in 1994
Greg and Glenn use the Last Planner System® to save a troubled project. LPS® becomes the foundation for a new way of project management that creates predictable workflow and rapid learning.
greg howell (right) and glenn ballard (left) standing side by side
In the air on the way home from a project, Greg and Glenn discuss their desire to share the power of a Lean mindset, knowledge and practices.
lean construction institute stage with podium lci logo in foreground and background
The Lean Construction Institute (originally named the Center for Innovation in Project and Production Management) is founded to work with construction industry companies to develop and deploy Lean thinking and practice.
lean construction institute stage with man in black suit and blue shirt
LCI hosts the first LCI Congress in Portland Oregon. Professionals from the emerging Lean community came together to collaborate, network and learn.
man in light blue shirt using both arms to point at a wall with sticky notes on it
Greg and Glenn publish an update on the Last Planner System reporting that LPS has been widely adopted as a highly-successful construction workflow planning and project management tool.
group of people chatting in the foreground, more people in the background with large windows overlooking a cityscape
The first Design Forum is held in Berkeley, CA in partnership with P2SL. Designers came together to learn about and advance Lean methods and approaches.
large group of people surrounding a table, fisheye lens shot
LCI's Communities of Practice (CoPs) begin forming. Cascadia was the first followed by NorCal and San Diego.
a profile of lean construction institute's CEO DAN C. HEINEMEIER
Dan Heinemeier becomes the first Executive Director of LCI. He brings over 30 years of experience in technology, government contracting and construction industries.
transforming design and construction book cover atop a building under construction
Transforming Design and Construction - A Framework for Change is published. The book gives a high-level understanding of various Lean principles, strategies and methods.
man standing on a lci stage presenting eLearning course introduction
LCI releases eLearning as part of the Immersive Education Program. Even more organizations begin learning Lean methodology.
two men and a woman smiling and laughing
Respect for People is added to the list of national LCI events. It focuses on the topic of respect for people which is the central tenet of Lean thinking.
a young woman wearing a black blazer shaking the hand of a man, both smiling
Through education, mentorship and events LCI continues to reshape, unite and elevate the Lean community. There are currently 29 local Communities of Practice, thousands of members and over 1500 annual LCI Congress attendees.
A Weekly Work Plan on a white board, with sticky notes scattered throughout.

The Last Planner System®

The development of the Last Planner System® provided the foundation for a new way of project management that created predictable workflow and rapid learning. The “Last Planner®” (typically the foreman) is essentially the last person able to assure a reliable downstream workflow. As workflow became more predictable, sites became better organized, meetings were shorter, disputes fewer and bottlenecks and interruptions to workflow became more obvious.

Following a series of LCI-sponsored workshops to explore relational contracting practices, LCI board member Will Lichtig prepared a model Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA) which soon became the basis for the Consensus Docs 300 series. Paving a way for LCI Corporate Members to incorporate new organizational practices to promote collaboration, workflow improvement and flexibility.

A construction worker on a lifted platform, performing work on the side of a building.

Rethinking Teamwork

On the practice side, Owen Matthews of Westbrook, Inc. led Lean professionals to rethink teamwork. He organized the designers, consultants and contractors delivering a project into a single enterprise – a “one for all, all for one” venture which allowed for costs to be paid and profits shared according to an agreed to ratio. His organization applied for and was granted a trademark for the term “Integrated Project Delivery®” (IPD). This organization in turn granted LCI the right to use IPD in its work which provides for measured focus on the front-end of projects where budgets and programs are established, validated and brought to construction.

Led by a board of directors with diverse skills and backgrounds, LCI continues to advance the organization’s goals to establish a common vocabulary, explore basic research opportunities, enhance educational offerings and explore best practices for Lean Construction through our Communities of Practice (CoPs).

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