Where rhetoric and lean meet

Lauri Koskela

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims at an initial analysis and explanation of lean through the lens of the discipline of rhetoric. First, the ancient origin, central ideas, subsequent history and current interpretations of rhetoric are outlined. Then, the overall meeting points of rhetoric and lean are discussed. At the outset, it is contended that certain arguments that can be used as a justification in rhetoric seem fertile for understanding the difference between lean and conventional management. Then, persuasion towards compliance in production is discussed. The field of visual management is argued to have an implicit foundation in rhetoric. The existence of a common ground of values, facts and presumptions between the speaker and the audience is emphasized in rhetoric; it is contended that lean construction in many ways endeavours to create such a common ground among the project participants. Regarding deliberation, the rhetorical dimensions in the methods of A3 and Choosing by Advantages are discussed. Further, Target Value Design is identified as based, for their part, on rhetorical ideas. In conclusion, it is contended that many aspects of lean, which as such may seem odd and perhaps peripheral, can be explained through the classical and modern understandings of rhetoric.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of IGLC 23 - 23rd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction: Global Knowledge - Global Solutions
PublisherThe International Group for Lean Construction
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780987455796
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event23rd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction - Perth, Australia
Duration: 28 Jul 201531 Jul 2015
Conference number: 23


Conference23rd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction
Abbreviated titleIGLC 23


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