4 Last Planner System Roadblocks

The Last Planner System has become one of the most recognizable and popular Lean Construction tools that attempts to solve the problem of production management on construction sites.  The system has been implemented by construction companies around the world and, when implemented well, has improved outcomes on a wide variety of sizes and types of projects.  Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to use Last Planner and therefore don’t enjoy the benefits that the system provides.  The following are 4 primary roadblocks to a successful Last Planner System implementation.

  1. Education: It has become a common sight to see a group of General Contractors in a Lean Construction workshop, eagerly learning about the Last Planner System and ready to implement it right away.  They call the meetings, buy the white boards & sticky notes and almost immediately feel frustration because the project team doesn’t fundamentally understand what they are being asked to do and why.  We need to make sure that all of the stakeholders on a project (sub-trades, designers, owners, consultants, etc) understand the theory of the system – not just the GC.  An investment in education for the whole project team is critical.
  2. Practice: We have been doing things the same way on construction sites for decades… changing the game requires practice.  Teams need to be able see how the system works and what their role requires.  They first need an opportunity to work the system in a controlled environment to understand how the levels work together and most importantly to see how dramatic the results can be.  Games and simulations can be a very effective way to accomplish this.  Following this up with consistent daily and weekly planning sessions on the job site will continue to improve the process.
  3. Leadership: Does change require great leadership?    But Last Planner success requires something more – something different.  Stakeholders on a project often resist the behavioural change necessary for true success until they start to see their peers following the steps and this always starts with someone who follows the leader first – we call that the First Follower – a role that is at least as important as the leader.
  4. Behaviour: People sometimes react to change poorly, and this can become an issue for Last Planner System implementations.  From passivity to aggression, you need to be able to recognize a variety of behaviours, understand the causes and work to solve the issues.  In the business world we tend to focus on the hard skills but need to develop some emotional intelligence to navigate this roadblock.

The one-day workshop ‘Last Planner System: How To Achieve True Success’ will help address these roadblocks and improve your project outcomes.  Look for it on the CCA education schedule.


Published by:

James Johnston, P. Eng., CM-Lean
Quality Dynamics Inc.


Article by Lena Hogarth
December 21, 2021

Why join the CCA?

See all the benefits

Ready to join the CCA?

Join now