LCI Congress Abstract Review Process Explained

LCI Congress Abstract Review Process Explained

We sat down with Kevin Labrecque, Founder and CEO of Integration Point LLC and 2018 LCI Congress Chair, to discuss the review process for Congress abstracts. Kevin has generously and wholeheartedly led the abstract review process since 2018, making improvements year after year based on feedback and collaboration with the review team. Let’s break down the abstract process.

What is the purpose of the LCI Congress?

The objective is to bring together Lean practitioners from all over the globe to share their knowledge and lessons learned with one another. The LCI Congress has been a highly anticipated event since the founding of our organization in 1997. The annual Congress is a success because of the dedicated volunteer planning committees and the event staff who make improvements based on plus/delta feedback of the event.

The abstract selection process is key in the success of Congress. This is where the magic happens. The selected abstracts that become presentations and live labs at Congress are what informs and shapes the Lean design and construction industry for the next year. Congress is an event which aims to reenergize our industry professionals so we can continue to transform the built environment together.

What does a good abstract look like?

Every year is about a culmination of the prior year’s thinking and learning. Ideally, your abstract has a way of aligning around the 2023 Congress theme: 25 Year of Learning: Supercharge Your Lean Journey in the Motor City. There is coherence, the theme, overall tracks, and your abstract. If you are talking about Lean principles that fall under a track, this will be what the audience is looking for.

Tips for someone thinking about submitting an abstract for Congress.

Simplify your message. We want you to show us exactly where and how Lean was implemented. Think about the key elements and share those “aha” moments. Write concisely, thinking about what you want and need to say to get your message across. Many of the best presentations have representation from the whole project team. This means including the owner and trades – if possible. By having representation across the team, it helps attendees understand your presentation and gives them the chance to hear from the entire cross functional team.

Things to consider when writing:

  • Provide robust learning examples and takeaways for attendees.
  • Align your presentation with the theme and tracks.
  • Discuss challenges and failures that were overcome by using Lean thinking and tools; leverage lessons learned.
  • Identify waste reduction or elimination.
  • Emphasize specific Lean tools for success that can be applied right away.
  • Simplify your message:  Provide in-depth focus of the key elements, concepts or practices implemented versus covering many topics.
  • Include clear visual(s) and video(s).

Even if an abstract isn’t selected for Congress, you should engage with the local CoP and tell your story there. Rejection from a Congress perspective shouldn’t deter people from telling their story.

Emphasize applied Lean principles over a specific product.

In recent years we have seen an increased number of submitted abstracts that are commercials for products/services. The purpose of Congress presentations is not to sell anyone on any product. The objective is to display how Lean approaches and methods were implemented and explaining what worked and what didn’t work.

Does this mean software, tools and support companies are automatically excluded from the abstract process? No. They’re not excluded, but the product should not be the centerpiece of the story. This is something we are being very cognizant of when selecting abstracts this year. If a software and tool company want to submit an abstract, they should on the applied Lean principle of a project. Ideally have a customer on your presentation team to help tell the story.

Software, tools, and support companies should consider exhibiting at Congress. This is a great opportunity to share products, tools and services with Congress attendees. Contact Ilene Goldberg, for more information on the exhibit hall.

Additional tips for abstract success.

  • Always be proud of your work.
  • Have at least one LCI corporate member speaking. LCI Corporate Members help continuity in the in the language used around Lean tools and approaches.
  • Don’t look at this as an opportunity to do a “show.” Everyone appreciates the humble learner who has success to tell, but don’t be afraid to share what you’ve learned and share mistakes.
  • Feature speakers from cross-functional roles, i.e., owners, designers, and trade partners.

Who reviews the abstract submissions?

The abstract review team includes is a blend of past reviewers and new reviewers, between 20-25 total individuals. It’s also important to include members of the Congress Planning Committee (comprised of volunteers in the area where Congress will be held). This year is, of course, Detroit. In addition to those criteria, LCI invites experienced Congress attendees and people that are newer to Congress (1-2 years at Congress). This gives us a nice blend of individuals with a variety of experiences both professionally and with Congress.

Once abstracts start coming in, they are automatically routed to the reviewers. Each reviewer will have 25-35 abstracts sent to them for review on average. Each abstract is analyzed by at least three reviewers before it moves into the next part of the process.

Abstract assignments are randomly generated, a nice healthy constant shifting mix in the abstract reviews. This means there’s no way to ensure that 3 different types of reviewers see the abstract. For example, 1 designer, 1 owner, 1 general contractor. That said, we believe the randomization is the most impartial way to send abstracts through the process. The system does not allow reviewers to receive abstracts submitted by their own company to ensure neutrality. Analytics run in the background to aggregate the numbers.

Reviewers evaluate each abstract considering the following criteria:

  • Does the abstract support first-time attendee Conditions of Satisfaction?
  • Does the abstract support repeat attendee Conditions of Satisfaction?
  • What’s the abstract quality?
  • Can you easily understand the abstracts meaning?
  • Is it unique?
  • Is it representing a new market?
  • Is the owner involved? It’s good to have the full support and backing of the owner to tell the story, although it’s not a limiting factor.
  • What is the design relevance?
  • Does it sound like a commercial? It’s hard to learn when you’re giving a commercial.

Next, we give the reviewers a deadline to review all their assigned abstracts. Once the review data is collected, we will move into the next part of the process. This is an in-person meeting (with a virtual option for those who cannot attend) that includes approximately one quarter of the reviewers, LCI event staff, our Congress board liaison, our Congress chair, and Kevin Labrecque. The abstract selections are determined at this meeting.

During the two-day meeting, we try to make sure there is representation from all markets on this review committee. We are after the best quality presentations for Congress. The selection committee is very serious about getting the best of the best.

After talking about and reviewing the highest rated abstracts that we believe should move into presentations or live labs for Congress, LCI will send out acceptances.


The LCI Congress is intended to bring Lean practitioners together to learn. We want speakers to come and participate at the entire event, not just as a speaker in your presentation. By being an active participant throughout the entire event you’re advancing the dialogue and spreading your knowledge further with others who are champions for Lean adoption.

What’s the timeline for Congress abstracts this year?

Abstract Submission Deadline: March 2, 2023

Speakers will be notified by: May 5, 2023

Presentation outlines and registration deadline: July 14, 2023

Final presentation submission deadline (with 2 drafts submitted prior): October 4, 2023

Submit your abstract today!