Lean Construction Header Revised
5th Edition   

The topics for this edition are:
  • Lean Project Schedule (PS)
  • Choosing By Advantages - Lean "Standard Work" for the decisionmaking process when there is more than one option 

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Lean Project Schedule (PS)

The purpose of the PS is to empower the workforce to work together as a team, through frequent 2-way project communication, and by allowing the team to take ownership and responsibility for their work as well as the project's milestones and goals.

by Ted Angelo

The Lean Project Schedule (PS) tool, like all other tools in the Lean Construction Gang Box, is used to expose waste, specifically to identify waste before it may actually occur. In addition, PS is used to eliminate work interruption, which entails stopping the task before work is completed. The PS tool consists of five parts:

  • Master Schedule
  • Six-week look ahead
  • Weekly schedule
  • Weekly schedule "after action" analysis
  • Continuous improvement review  

The Master Schedule identifies the overall activities, with durations, of a project. Our focus in this article will deal in greater depth with the remaining four parts of this valuable tool.  

We will start with the six-week look ahead. Team members meet weekly to look six weeks into the future and review what must be accomplished in accordance with the Master Schedule. This includes the number and type of workers, material, and equipment required to complete the assigned tasks. It is understood and acknowledged that this is the best guess, since many things can and do change on a construction project. It is required to look that far in advance on a weekly basis to provide the necessary information to other support areas within the company, such as procurement and shop fabrication.

The next part of the PS tool, which receives special emphasis, is the weekly schedule. In projects where many subcontractors are involved, the names of these subcontractors are entered into the PS. However, as a Mechanical Contractor with four to five different trades, we feel it is necessary not only to list the trade assignment, but also to identify and assign individuals for the upcoming week's activities. This creates ownership for all on the project, not just the foreman or superintendent who is responsible for the PS. Please note the PS is not prepared by the Project Manager, but rather the individual that is actually assigning the work. The weekly schedule is certainly more predicable than the six-week look ahead.

The fourth aspect of the PS is an analysis of the previous weekly schedule. The previous weekly assigned tasks are reviewed to determine what was completed. A benchmark of 80% of completed weekly tasks has been established as the goal to help ensure that everyone involved takes ownership and assumes accountability for completing their specific assignments for any given week.  Although the goal is 80%, we, of course, continue to strive for 100%.

The final part of the PS is the continuous improvement review. Lean is all about continuous improvement and since no project is ever completed "perfectly," this is an opportunity to make the next project even more successful.


The review should be completed within days of the project completion with as many representatives from the different areas of the organization involved in the project as possible. Typical improvement opportunities that surface in these meetings have their "roots" in communication and teamwork. Once the opportunities are communicated and changed into "action items," a plan to communicate them to the rest of the organization and an implementation plan must be developed. A Lean newsletter serves well as an organization-wide communication tool, and action items are normally implemented using a Kaizen Newspaper format.  


At the Grunau Company we have learned one of the best ways to create value is through the elimination of waste.  Hopefully by reviewing the PS, you can see what a valuable tool it is in accomplishing this goal.


                    Lean Construction Gang Box

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Choosing By Advantages - Lean "Standard Work" for the Decisionmaking Process -
Part 1 of 2 - Simple Decisions

Everyone can become a better decisionmaker by developing an understanding of the structured decisionmaking tool, Choosing By Advantages (CBA). CBA can "Lean out" the entire decisionmaking process when there is more than one option.   


by Larry Rubrich 

CBA is a structured decisionmaking process that starts when a decision must be made, and ends when the decision is implemented and the results evaluated. CBA's basic rule of sound decisionmaking is: decisions must be based on the importance of advantages only. (Pros and cons are not used).


CBA avoids decisions based on:     
  • Gut feel, guesses, personal agendas, and "pet" ideas and suppliers  
  • Emotion, intuition
  • Jumping to solutions, conclusions
  • Pros and cons analysis 

CBA Leans out the decisionmaking process:

  • The diverse Lean team decision is the best decision (a Lean teamwork principle)
  • The structured CBA process provides "Standard Work" for the decisionmaking process so that everyone in the organization will use the same format (like Lean A3 problem solving, A3 reports, and A3 proposals)
  • People who participate in the decisionmaking process are more committed to its successful implementation (a Lean kaizen principle)

CBA has seven decisionmaking methods based on the complexity of the decision. The list below shows the CBA methods in order of complexity (simple decisions = Instant CBA, complex decisions = Tabular method).  

  1. Instant CBA
  2. Recognition-Response process
  3. Simplified two-list method 
  4. Simplified tabular method
  5. Two-list method
  6. Tabular method
  7. Money decision methods

Each of the CBA methods follows six similar steps, however, as one might imagine, as the method becomes more capable of handling complexity, the individual steps become more complex. The six similar steps in CBA are:

  1. A decision needs to be made - must and want criteria are developed
  2. A decisionmaking team creates a list of alternatives and identifies their attributes
  3. Summarize the attributes (characteristics) of each alternative
  4. Decide the advantages of each alternative
  5. Decide the importance of each alternative
  6. Choose the alternative with the greatest total importance of advantages

Terms used in CBA 


Criterion - is an instruction, guideline, measure or rule for the decisionmaking process. Decisionmaking criteria come in two formats:

  • Must Criterion
  • Want Criterion       
Criteria are developed in CBA step #1, and are used to exclude alternatives in step #2. 


Alternatives - alternatives represent the decision options that remain after we have applied our criterion (both must and want) to the available choices from our original proposal. For example, if the original proposal is to buy a car, the two alternatives might be Car "A" and Car "B". 


Attribute - a characteristic, feature, or distinction (of possibly many) of one of the alternative decisions. In our car example, an attribute would be 2 or 4 doors for each model. Attributes are neither good or bad, except in comparison to other alternative decision attributes. Other car attributes include: miles per gallon (mpg), horsepower (HP), front or rear wheel drive, transmission type, color, etc.


Must Criterion - an attribute that the alternative must have or it is eliminated as a potential alternative. In our car example, a must criterion might be all-wheel drive. All cars without this capability would be excluded in step #2 - creating a list of alternatives.       

Want Criterion - an attribute that the decisionmaking team prefers in an alternative. In our car example, a want criterion might be the highest gas mileage.         


Advantage - a favorable dissimilarity between the attributes of two alternatives. In our car example, let's assume car "A" has an attribute of 35 mpg and car "B" has an attribute of 25 mpg. If we asked, which car has the advantage in mpg, the answer would be car A.   

CBA Decisionmaking Process Example 


The following is an example of number three on the CBA Method's list of seven methods - the Simplified Two-List Method.


This method is used for simple two option, monetary or nonmonetary decisions, where the list of advantages per alternative is limited to perhaps no more than 4-5. The importance of each advantage can be mentally judged (versus numerical scales that are used and added together in the more complex methods) and the total importance of advantages mentally decided.

Simplified Two-List Method
              CBA Two-List Step 1
Steps #2 & #3

              CBA Two-list Simp Steps 2&3 


Steps #4 & #5

                   CBA Two-List Steps #4

Note that the form used to display the data is similar for all CBA Methods. In this method, the Simplified Two-List Method, total importance is a mental judgement versus a calculation that will be performed in the methods used for more complex decisions.
Steps #6   

              CBA Two-List Step 6 

For the Simplified Two-List Method, numerical ratings for the advantages are not created and the total importance is not calculated. The decision is made by mental comparison. It is interesting to note that for the data shown, the additional air bags for car A, a "want" criterion, does not improve its safety test results. In this case, the decisionmakers must decide which of the four advantages - mpg, HP, towing capacity, or safety - is the overriding or paramount advantage in this car A or car B decision.


If we add money to the process (car A and car B are different prices), the decision may change.  

              CBA Two-List Step 6 with prices  

If we assumed that the overriding advantage in this decision is towing capacity, then it appears that car A is the sound decision.


To relieve the discomfort we might then feel about paying the extra $1,000.00 for car A, we change the comparison to an "equal money" decision. To accomplish this, we must determine if spending an additional $1,000.00 on car B could get additional towing capacity. If spending that additional money produced an additional 500 pounds in towing capacity, car B would be the sound "equal money" decision.



Next Edition - Part 2, Complex Decisions using the Tabular Method 



Suhr, Jim. The Choosing By Advantages Decisionmaking System. Quorum Books, 1999.
This Lean newsletter is the result of the collaboration of three organizations:
Grunau Company
Ted Angelo, Executive Vice President

Quality Support Services, Inc.
Dennis Sowards, President
WCM Associates LLC
Larry Rubrich, President

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