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Summarizing the Rules of Lean Project Management


My previous blog entry was presenting the last element of an eight-part series on the Rules of Lean Project Management (LPM). I wrote this series because I felt that, although it is viewed more and more nowadays as the path to better project management, LPM is really not well understood. In this context, presenting the main rules of LPM, as I see them, was aimed at helping us all better understand under what conditions project managers can really claim to use and live by Lean principles.

I summarize here for easy reference the eight rules of LPM (until these are revised or more rules are stated by others). This summary is complemented by a white paper I wrote integrating, in one single reference, the blog entries that I dedicated to this subject during the last few months. You can download this white paper at the following web address:

The eight rules of LPM as I practice, coach and teach them are as follows:

LPM Rule # 1: the “Last Planner ®” Rule. The one who executes the work is the one who plans the work

LPM Rule # 2: the “Tracking Percent Promises Complete (PPC)” Rule. Do not track time (effort) or cost; track small promises that you can see over time

LPM Rule # 3: the “Expanded Project Team” Rule. Expand the project team to include and integrate all significant stakeholders, as part of the team as early as possible

LPM Rule # 4: the “Humans, humans, humans” Rule. Humans execute projects and projects’ deliverables materialise through humans and for them. So be considerate to humans as, without them, no project can be a success.

LPM Rule No. 5: the “Rolling the Waves” Rule. Roll the waves. Make your choices and commitments (promises) at the last responsible moment. Make them in the form of work packages that will deliver the desired results anticipated with a high degree of certainty. Plan the work, execute the work, learn and adapt, plan the work, execute the work, learn and adapt, plan the work, execute the work…succeed

LPM Rule # 6: the “Opening, Adapting and Closing Often” rule. Open-Adapt-Close, Open-Adapt-Close, Open-Adapt-Close… all the time. The IPECC (Initiate, Plan, Execute, Control, Close) cycle is a recurring process; this recurrence is the true key to successful projects, lean-influenced or not. In order to close a project, you have to open-adapt-close formally at the phase level, to open-adapt-close formally at the work package level, to open-adapt-close for each required deliverable (small concrete promises), to open-adapt-close each required activity undertaken.

LPM Rule # 7: the “Executing Your Small Promises on Single-tasking Mode” Rule. Execute your small promises on single-tasking mode. Once your deliverables are cut into smaller pieces, deliver them one after the other, as much as possible. By cutting your project work in smaller pieces/promises, you will save on set-up time each time you are interrupted, thus accelerating delivery. This accelerating effect can be increased furthermore, if you also try to execute these promises, one after the other, this saving an additional amount of set-up time. In a multi-project/multi-tasking environment, the most productive strategy is to single-task, doing these multiple tasks in series, when possible.

LPM Rule # 8: the “Using LPM Principles to Implement AND Adopt LPM” Rule. Live and use what you preach to implement LPM; by «walking the talk», you will succeed in increasing the speed and extend of LPM adoption and ensure a lasting and fruitful change.

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