When a Business Case Is Not Enough, Motivation to Work With Lean

Randi Christensen1, Stephen Greenhalgh2 & Anja Thomassen3

1PhD, MSc, Lean Manager, COWI working on behalf of Highways England at Lower Thames Crossing, London, Co-Founder of CollabDecisions, +44 7702 856113, [email protected]
2BSc, Civil Engineering, Lean Manager for East Region & Complex Infrastructure Programme for Highways England [email protected]
3PhD, Cand.merch Anja O. Thomassen, Associate Professor, Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, [email protected]


Lean practitioners have always been very passionate about sharing their experiences and knowledge so others also can benefit from better processes and reduced waste. When lean practitioners get together to discuss and spread knowledge, the ‘implementation of lean’ is often at the core of the conversation. How do we get others to understand the nature of lean and how do we get them to implement it? Despite clearly documented, positive outcomes and strong business cases, we still encounter resistance and it can be challenging to even get our own colleagues to be engaged with lean. This paper explores what motivates individuals with different project roles to work with lean, when some research shows that knowledge and will is not enough to change. It considers why incentive measures and a focus on time and cost savings could have a negative impact on the motivation to change for some groups. This discussion is supported with survey data and experiences from a major infrastructure project and within the organisation of the client, Highways England.


Lean construction, implementation, motivation, sense making, change



Christensen, R. , Greenhalgh, S. & Thomassen, A. 2019, 'When a Business Case Is Not Enough, Motivation to Work With Lean' In:, Proc. 27th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Dublin, Ireland, 3-5 Jul 2019. pp 275-286

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