Professional Development & Continuing Education Programs

Lean Thinking 101

One-Day Lean Thinking Overview Workshop

The One-Day Lean Thinking Overview Workshop provides participants with an introduction to the principles and tools of Lean Thinking.  For people just getting started with lean, or for organizations who are ramping up on their lean journeys, this workshop is a must! 

Lean Thinking is a method of building continuous improvement into daily work and improving performance for everyone.  See the back of this page to understand more about the basics of Lean.

Participants in the One-Day Lean Overview Workshop will understand:

  • The background and definition of Lean Thinking
  • The Five Key Principles of Lean Thinking that apply everywhere
  • The Eight Types of Waste found in all process types
  • An overview of Value Stream Mapping, the tool used to find waste and improvement opportunities
  • The common methods of lean process improvement, including standard work, 5S and visual management, pull systems, setup reduction, cellular processing, and others
  • An introduction to Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) continuous improvement concepts (referred to in Lean as “kaizen”)
  • A discussion of the keys to success with Lean Thinking
  • Advice on first steps to getting started, for individuals and organizations

Each workshop includes a hands-on learning activity that helps solidify the understanding of lean principles and tools.  The activity is useful for people involved in front-line physical processes, knowledge and office workers, as well as supervisors and managers

This workshop is suitable for everyone: front line and management, manufacturers and knowledge workers, supervisors, senior executives.  No prior exposure to lean is necessary.  The One-Day Lean Thinking Overview Workshop is often used to orient front-line employees and managers to Lean and then either begin individual improvement activities or launch discussions and plans for organization-wide lean transformations.

Workshop seats are available to the public several times throughout the year.  See our calendar for dates.  Private workshops can be hosted at your facility for groups of a dozen or more.  Contact us for details.


What Is Lean Thinking?

Lean Thinking, or just “Lean” is a continuous improvement system that aligns everyone in the organization to improve processes: everybody, every day systematically solving problems.  Lean teaches everyone in the organization how to better identify performance gaps, get down to their root causes, devise effective and efficient countermeasures, and make improvements stick.  Lean accelerates an organization’s transformation from good to great.

Lean works in all functions and departments, across all organizations, public and private, and everything people do, work processes or at home.  Lean applies wherever resources (time, energy, materials, or information) are used to produce goods or services – in other words, lean applies everywhere.

Lean Thinking was developed from the Toyota Production System, and versions of Lean have been used since just after World War II.  Lean is not a management fad – Lean is a proven approach for getting better results.

What Lean is Not:

Lean is not about just working harder.  Lean is about working smarter.  Processes improved with lean are not only better for the customer and the organization, but for the people who work in the organization.  Employees’ ideas are converted into improvements that create better performance results.  Processes are simpler, more reliable and consistent, more rewarding, and hassle-free.  In lean, everybody wins.

Lean is not just about cost-cutting.  Lean is about providing better value to customers and constituents.  Value has many components, including quality, flexibility, processing time, service, as well as cost.  All measures on an organization’s performance can be improved through lean.

Lean is not about headcount reduction.  When they hear the term “lean”, some might interpret it as thin, weak, or “taking away from.”  A more appropriate image would be a nimble, strong, world class athlete.  Lean principles include the twin pillars of Continuous Improvement and Respect for People.  Lean efforts that result in people losing their jobs are misinformed and self-defeating.

Lean is not another top-down program.  Lean deployment begins with top leadership buy-in, support, and active participation, but that is only the beginning.  Lean gets done through bottom up involvement of people who do the work.  Lean is more than a top-driven program.  Lean is powered by the people who do the work.

Lean is not a temporary set of tools.  The most highly successful lean organizations get their remarkable results when they approach lean as a change in organizational lifestyle.  It is not like a toolbox, with tools you pull out from time to time and then put away.  It is like quitting smoking or losing weight.  It is a lifestyle change.