Lean Construction in Canada – The Current State

Lean Construction, a collaborative project delivery system that focuses on reliable workflow and customer value is becoming more widely adopted across Canada every year.  Projects that use Lean tools and principles have been consistently delivering improved quality, safety, cost and schedule when compared to traditionally managed construction.  Owners and builders alike are recognizing that they don’t necessarily have to compromise either cost, quality or schedule in order to achieve the other two – it is possible to achieve all three.  As a result, a growing number of project RFPs now include Lean education and experience as a critical consideration when selecting contractors.  To provide guidance and support the movement toward more collaborative contracting, the Canadian Construction Documents Committee released CCDC 30 – a standard Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Contract – in early 2019.  This contract is designed to create a cooperative ‘shared risk shared reward’ structure that has consistently shown incredible results for all IPD project participants.  IPD is a very effective Lean project delivery model, but it is important to understand that Lean can be used to significantly improve project outcomes regardless of the contract structure.  Focusing on customer value, smooth workflow, reducing waste and continuous improvement, benefits all types and sizes of projects.

Education is critical throughout every Lean journey and local construction associations across Canada are doing their part by making seminars and workshops available to their members.  The attendance of Lean focused education varies from region to region, but one thing is clear – interest is growing everywhere.  Most provinces are offering a number of Lean courses from brief introductory sessions and one-day intensive workshops up to the Lean Construction Education Program, an internationally adopted and recognized curriculum that can lead to students earning the CM-Lean professional designation.  It is very obvious that as more people learn about Lean and more organizations commit to collaborative project delivery, the definition of ‘normal’ in construction is changing.  Lean is no longer some new and different idea but is quickly becoming the standard for excellence in project delivery.  The best first step for anyone considering Lean is to reach out to your local association to find out what type of training they have available.

Published by:

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


Article by Lena Hogarth
January 26, 2022

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