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[units of work/unit of time]

The amount of work a production unit, whether individual or group or a machine, can accomplish in a given amount of time in given conditions.

Example: Jim the engineer can perform 10 piping stress analyses per day on average, but the analyses to be done this week are particularly difficult. He will only be able to do 7. That is, Jim’s average capacity is 10, but his capacity for the specific work to be done this week is 7.

cause-and-effect diagram, fishbone diagram, Ishikawa diagram

Graphical representation of causes and effects laid out so as to mimic the bones of a fish.

Named after Kaoru Ishikawa (1915-1989).


Figure source: visited 6 NOV 2014


→ see Choosing by Advantages

CBA Process for Complex Decisions [CBA]

Decisionmaking process articulated by Jim Suhr (1999) comprising five phases:

I. The Stage-Setting Phase
II. The Innovation Phase
III. The Decisionmaking Phase
IV. The Reconsideration Phase
V. The Implementation Phase

Reference: Suhr, J. (1999). The Choosing By Advantages Decisionmaking System. Quorum, Westport, CT, 293 pp.

(to) change over, changeover

Setup or adjustment required to a process, machine, layout, etc. when one is done making one kind of product, in order to be able to start making another kind of product.

→ related to (production) batch

Choosing by Advantages [CBA]

System for sound decisionmaking formalized by Jim Suhr (1999).

Reference: Suhr, J. (1999). The Choosing By Advantages Decisionmaking System. Quorum, Westport, CT, 293 pp.


→ see Customer Order Decoupling Point

commitment plan [LPS]

Output of commitment planning. A Weekly Work Plan is a commitment plan done weekly. (Arguably, planning at any level involves making commitments.)

→ see reliable promise

commitment planning, commitment-based planning [LPS]

A planning system that is based on making and securing reliable promises in a public setting.

The process in the planning system hierarchy, below make-ready planning (lookahead planning), that results in production units making commitments to deliver on which others in the production system can rely because they follow the rule that only defined, sound, sequenced and sized assignments are to be accepted or made. Commitment planning done on a daily/weekly basis is called Daily/Weekly Work Planning. Tasks in commitment plans are expressed in terms of steps in operations. The commitment is made to completing the operation.

Example: On my work plan for next week, I have included providing Cheryl the soils data she needs to evaluate alternative substructure systems for the building. All known constraints have been removed from my task, I understand what is required and how the information will be used, and I have reserved needed labor and equipment.

commodity material

Material made by different manufacturers but more-or-less indistinguishably from one to the other, thereby allowing for substitution or interchangeability.

Also, material that is supplied and replenished in bulk quantity, for which no piecemeal quantity take-off is done.

Example: This box contains one pound of 3” wire nails.

Community of Practice (COP)

A group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner (2015). “Communities of practice: A brief introduction.” April 15,, Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf visited 10 JAN 2016.


Not simple, nor complicated.

Snowden describes that in the complex domain, cause-effect relationships are not a priori known.

→ as distinct from simple or complicated

Snowden, D.J. and Boone, M.E. (2007). “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making.” Harvard Business Review, Nov., 69-76.


Not simple, nor complex.

Snowden describes that in the complicated domain, cause-effect relationships (1) exist, (2) there is a right answer, but it is not so self-evident and therefore requires expertise. One can use an analytical model or call in experts who built expertise in that domain, who can make the right decision. In the complicated domain, experts apply good practice (not best practice). There are several ways of doing things, all of which legitimate, if you have the right expertise. You’ll tick people off, by forcing them to adopt one practice, if they want to use another practice.

→ as distinct from simple or complex

Reference: Snowden, D.J. and Boone, M.E. (2007). “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making.” Harvard Business Review, Nov., 69-76.

Condition of Satisfaction (COS)

Directive (proactive: for steering) and criterion (reactive: for judging), imposed by the entity initiating a process (usually the customer) that specify (to the performer of that process) how success of the outcome will be gauged.

What will make a customer satisfied with the service or product received.


An input, directive, resource, or other requirement that will prevent a task or an assignment from starting, advancing, or completing as planned.

constraint [CBA]

Cause for an alternative to be excluded from consideration.

In the context of Choosing by Advantages, a must criterion or money.

constraint [LPS]

In the context of the Last Planner System, something that stands in the way of a task being executable or sound. Typical constraints on design tasks are inputs from others, clarity of requirements criteria for what is to be produced or provided, approvals or releases, and labor or equipment resources. Typical constraints on construction tasks are the completion of design or prerequisite work; availability of materials, information, and directives. Screening tasks for readiness is assessing the status of their constraints. Removing constraints is making a task ready to be assigned.

constraint log

A list of constraints, each one with an identification of the individual who promised to remove it by an agreed-upon date. The log gets developed during the make-ready process in lookahead planning.

Each individual who promises to remove a constraint can manage their constraint removal process by using their own Last Planner System.


Synonym for buffer but typically used in the sense of “financial contingency.”

Amount of money budgeted to function as buffer against un-specifiable future costs.

continuous improvement

Repetition of the PDCA cycle.

continuous flow, continuous flow process

Production system with processes that have no buffers in-between processing steps.

Illustration → see batch flow

G_continuous flow

Example: After the concrete has been placed and vibrated, it begins to cure.

(to) control

To engage in activities designed to cause events to conform to plan (i.e., to provide the ability to steer), or to initiate replanning and learning.

Example: Exploding master schedule activities into greater detail, screening the resultant tasks against constraints, and acting to remove those constraints are all control actions intended to cause events to conform to plan, or to identify as early as practical the need for replanning. Learning is initiated through analysis of reasons for failing to cause events to conform to plan.

controls, project controls

High-level set of metrics and practices applied to assess whether or not project’s execution is progressing as planned (that is, producing expected outcomes); often retrospective by nature.


CONstrained Work In Process.

A means to limit the amount of inventory in a production system.


→ see Community of Practice


→ see Condition of Satisfaction

cost modeling

The practice of keeping track of component- and system costs in the course of design, as may be done by means of 5D BIM.


Corrective action taken in response to the identification of a deviation from an expected outcome in an attempt to prevent that problem from occurring. Whether or not that attempt is successful will have to bear out.


→ see Critical Path Method

crew balance chart

Depiction of workers or production units with the tasks they are performing over time. The aim is to determine each person’s (unit’s) utilization and to divide work evenly.

Note: crew balancing aims are optimizing the crew speed. This is local optimization as no consideration is given to the handoffs between this crew and others nor to production system design in general.

G_crew balance chart

Howell, G., Laufer, A., and Ballard, G. (1993). “Interaction between Subcycles: One Key to Improved Methods.” ASCE, J. Constr. Eng. Manage., 119 (4) 714-728.
Oglesby, C.H., Parker, H.W., and Howell, G.A. (1989). Productivity Improvement in Construction. McGraw-Hill.

→ see the broader concept Takt Time Planning

criterion (in plural: criteria) [CBA]

In the context of Choosing by Advantages, a criterion is any standard on which a judgment is based (Suhr 1999).

A criterion can be either a must criterion or a want criterion.

  • Must Criterion: A standard that an alternative must meet or be excluded from consideration.
  • Want Criterion: A standard that the stakeholders agree would be beneficial in varying degrees (e.g., expressing a preference).

A criterion can be qualitative or quantitative:

  • Qualitative Criterion: A standard that expressed non-tangible value. It must be described in details that the stakeholders understand.
  • Quantitative Criterion: A standard that can be measured objectively.

criterion (in plural: criteria) [LPS]

In the context of the Last Planner System, criteria are a subset of directives, specifically those used to evaluate process outputs.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

A method for computing the shortest duration of a network of activities, based on a duration estimate (deterministic number) for each activity and precedence relationships between them (e.g., finish-to-start relationships). The sequence of activities that defines this shortest duration is called the ‘critical path.’

→ related to float, forward pass, backward pass.

cross-functional diagram, multi-functional diagram, swimlane diagram

Illustration of work to be done by each party or team (each one in a single row or “lane”) involved in process, and of relationships or hand-offs between them.

current state map [VSM]

A value stream map that describes the existing (current, observed) situation.


The direct or indirect user or beneficiary of one’s output.

The person (production unit) who requests and sets the requirements for the handoff to be received from the performer.

The individual engaged in a conversation for action who will receive the output or results of performance either requested from, or offered by, the performer.

Example: John needs the results of our acoustical tests in order to select the best location for his mechanical equipment. John is our customer because he will use what we produce.

Customer Order Decoupling Point (CODP)

A point in the production system (supply chain) where requirements specific to an individual customer are applied to customize the product. At and downstream of that point, the product is therefore made based on demand. Upstream of that point, the product is made based on forecast.

The location of the COPD affects the lead time.

Illustration → see Assembled To Order

→ related to ETO, ATO, MTO, and MTS


Making a product or service more unique, specifically in order to meet a customer’s conditions of satisfaction.

Cycle Time (CT) ∆

[unit of time]

The time it takes a product, piece of information, or chunk of work (e.g., a room, building, quadrant) to go from beginning to end of a production process; that is, the time it is work-in-process [units of time].

It is the time for a product to transit the system and thus defined by how one defines the boundaries for that system.

The cycle time is influenced by a number of production system design parameters:

CT = BT + MT  + ST + PT + QT


BT = batch time
MT = move time
ST = setup or change over time
PT = processing time
QT = queue time

→ see work in process, Little’s Law, Kingman Formula