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Bookmark = System

Lean Management System

Every element of every lean production system should be simultaneously implemented with a corresponding
lean management system to support and sustain it.

Essential elements of a lean management system

  1. Lean Leadership. If you don't have lean leadership, it is very difficult for an isolated team to implement an effective lean management system for very long.
  2. Routine Accountability Habits include frequent gemba walks, systematized
    PDCA Coaching, and multi-tiered daily stand-up meetings, where the visual Team Accountability Board serves as the meeting place, agenda, and progress report.

    Every person in your company is the member of at least one, and often several teams.

    two bikers

    Not just templates.
    Not just training.

    But also systems
    that you won't outgrow

    Every Process Improvement Team is systematically held accountable to demonstrate process improvement effort and results on a routine basis (often daily).

  3. Leader Standard Work checklists are carried and followed by Team Leaders, Department Supervisors, Value Stream Managers, and even top-level executives — as a way
    to systematically get above-average results from average managers.
  4. Visual Controls are the most obvious clue to look for.

    Visual management systems stand out, are an essential component of any lean system, and are supposed to be implemented as the very first element of any lean management system.

    For every one of the types of Continuous Improvement teams — one of the required outcomes must be for that team to establish excellent Visual Management Systems — so that with one quick glance, any first-time visitor can know whether or not every process is or is not achieving its objectives.

Bookmark = tools

Lean Management Tools

Team Leadership tools

If it is true that "management is the art of getting things done through other people",

then it will be a rare manager indeed who does not need to lead one or more teams.


When you download your free trial, you get...

Use your new lean management templates for the rest of your career — free

because our gamble is that once you become familiar with your Systems2win templates that have

cave man trying to re-invent
  • consistent, standardized features, help, and training
  • language translations for your global team
  • live technical support

you will wonder aloud...

"Why are we paying our expensive lean leaders
to try to invent, re-invent, and support inferior tools?"

Lean Assessment template

to assess the progress of each team's lean journey

Lean Six Sigma Storyboard
Before & After Storyboard

One Good Idea — Before & After Storyboard

Lean storyboard, Six Sigma story board

Leader Standard Work template

for your Team Leaders, Department Supervisors, Value Stream Managers, and top-level Executives

(These percentages are lower in a lean healthcare or lean office environment,
but the fundamentals of the underlying lean management system are the same)

Strategic Planning and Policy Deployment

Someone needs to climb the tallest tree to see above the forest.

And then it's not enough to just choose a strategic direction and set a few strategic milestones.

You need systematic ways to communicate that vision, inspire others to share and extend that vision, and to actually pull together toward that inspiring future.

Kaizen Event Leadership

Kaizen Agenda Event Checklist 30-Day Audit
Tools to lead a Kaizen Event

Your Systems2win templates include an entire suite of templates to

  • Plan a Kaizen Event
  • Lead it, and then...
  • Follow up to measure results to ensure that the desired changes stick.

Templates for A3 Management

Some of your team members aren't willing to be locked in a room for a multi-day Kaizen Event?

(Doctors? VP's? Customers? Suppliers?)

A3 Report Approvals template A3 Gemba Interview
Templates for A3 Management

No problem. Your Systems2win templates also include an entire suite of templates for A3 Problem Solving and A3 Management.

Not just the A3 Template that is a free gift when you download your trial, but an entire suite of templates to take your A3 Management to whole new levels.

PDCA Kata Coaching templates

As part of your Improvement Kata routine habits, use your PDCA template for Learner and Coach to maintain a record of past experiments, results, and learnings — and to plan your next PDCA experiment.

Immediately after each coaching session, your Coach's Coach uses the PDCA Coaching Observations template to mentor both you and your Coach to more fully embrace the teachings and habits of both the Improvement Kata and the Coaching Kata.

Publish your printed PDCA Coaching template
on your Team Accountability Board to serve as a Lean Storyboard.

Project Management tools

Lean leaders usually prefer one or more of the above (more time effective) ways of managing teams, but there are times when traditional project management tools and methods are still the best choice.

(think Christmas Party, moving to a new facility, implementing new software...)

Your Systems2win templates also include a suite of templates for traditional Project Management.

Team Training tools

A big part of being a lean manager is being a lean trainer.

Your Systems2win Lean Management bundle of templates comes with a Training Session Planning template, a Cross Training Matrix, Excel Self-Paced Learning, and more.

And most Systems2win customers own all 4 bundles of templates, which include many additional lean training templates, training pages, and videos to teach your people what they need to know as they turn each next corner on their lean journey.

Tool Selection Matrix

Not sure which tools to consider
as you round yet another corner of yet another twisting lean journey?

Your Tool Selection Matrix allows you to use Excel's powerful Filter features

to systematically narrow down your options
to the few templates that are most likely
to guide you and your team
to use the right tool for what you need next.

Hands-on Lean Leadership tools

that come with the other 3 bundles of templates for process improvement

All of the above templates come with the Lean Management bundle of templates.

The scary truth is that all of the above tools and methods don't actually accomplish anything other than to set the stage to make it possible for a team to actually change something.

The best lean leaders don't just "manage". They lead.

Value Stream Map
5S Scorecard
Standard Work Audit

They lead by example.

They physically go to the gemba (the place where the work is done)

and they themselves demonstrate competence to personally use some of the same lean tools and methods that they want their people to use.

Some of the more popular "hand-on" lean tools used by lean managers include:


What drives cultural change?

Expectations for clearly defined behavior, and consistently applied processes for supporting it.

Every element of any lean production system must have a corresponding lean management system element to support it.

"If I had to choose between lean training for a new recruit to lead a lean area or providing him or her with a copy of clearly written standard work, I would choose standard work every time."

David Mann ~ Author of Creating a Lean Culture

Bookmark = Accountability

Routine Accountability Habits

Lean Management systems to instill Lean Culture habits

  1. Gemba Walking
  2. Assessment Audits
  3. Leader Standard Work
  4. Stand Up Meetings
  5. Kata — Habits for Lean Coaching

Gemba Walk

Go to the place, look at the process, talk with the people

The primary purpose of gemba walking is to teach

Yes, there are many other benefits:

But the overwhelming primary purpose of a gemba walk is to teach.

When you are the gemba walker, you are playing the role of sensei (mentor, coach, teacher).

A gemba walk is a master-disciple, teacher-student form of learning —
where your goal as sensei is to ask questions (fighting your strong impulse to just tell them what to do)
that cause your student to see things differently,
to look at a process that may be many years familiar to them,
and to see it fresh and anew with "kaizen eyes",
suddenly seeing waste that has always been there,
but that suddenly becomes visible in an "aha" moment.


"Aha" moments happen only when a student is actively thinking, not just receiving information.

And the best way to trigger thinking
is to ask questions.

Questions designed to cause the learner to
see waste that they never noticed before,
and questions designed to stimulate the learner to
creatively apply lean tools, methods, and teachings
in creative, improvised ways that fit the needs of this unique situation.

Each unique situation almost always requires some invention and adaptation of lean principles.

In the real world, it is rare to be able to apply a tool or method in the exact same form that it was introduced in a book, or even in a Systems2win template. That's one reason that your Systems2win templates are written using Microsoft Word and Excel — so that it's easy to personalize them for your unique situations that you encounter on your lean journey.

The role of the sensei is to ask questions, introduce new tools and approaches, stimulate new thinking, teach, and (sparingly) to give advice... but the student should always be responsible for making all decisions. The only decision that the sensei makes is whether to continue working with the student — based on their follow through to commitments.

The primary benefit of this Socratic method of asking questions (instead of just telling answers) is that the student learns much more thoroughly. Thoroughly enough to soon start doing their own gemba walks with their own subordinates, with your student slowly but surely evolving into their own incarnation of master sensei.

The primary challenge of this gemba walk method of learning is that it is slow. It requires patience.

To be most effective, gemba walking should start from the top down. Gemba walking should ideally start with a very experienced consultant serving as the sensei for your President and executive-level Change Agent. Just seeing your top-level leaders out there on the production floor on a weekly basis will do wonders to deliver the message to everyone in the company that "this change initiative is different".

Let the boss be the boss... (sensei)

By nature, senior-level executives are far more comfortable in the role of leader, rather than learner.

So rather than putting them in the position of being a "student" right there in front of the people they manage,

it a much better idea for the consultant sensei to serve as a tactful mentor —
helping each executive prepare for 15 minutes before each of his or her gemba walks,
and then spending time after each gemba walk to help the executive learn from the fresh experience and use what was just learned to prepare for the next one —

and yet allow the executive to play the role of sensei even on their first gemba walks —
with the consultant only intervening with tactful guiding questions if and when the executive truly seems to need help.

Using the Lean Assessment template for gemba walk preparation

Lean Assessment template

Yes, consulting time can get expensive,
and yes, most executives are quick learners
that will be very motivated to do some self-study so that they can quickly be as competent and comfortable as possible with this new highly visible role.

That's where the Systems2win Lean Assessment template is so valuable...
A quick 5-minute review of these lean performance evaluation criteria will quickly refresh the executive's mind with the things to look for and questions to ask on their upcoming gemba walk.

The purpose of a gemba walk is to observe what is actually happening at the place where the work is being done,
and to mentor by asking questions and perhaps introducing or reminding of potentially helpful lean tools and teachings.

Rather than entering data into the form after each gemba walk,
and rather than bringing a printed copy of this Assessment on gemba walks, we suggest instead to simply...
spend a few minutes reviewing this Assessment form prior to each gemba walk
as an excellent way to prepare yourself mentally.

Assessment Audits

A Routine Accountability Habit

5S Scorecard

Each leader's standard work should include periodic audits — using audit checklists to remind them of what to always look for, and to provide a written archive record that can be analyzed for trends.

Audit checklists can be created for anything
that significantly influences the effectiveness of any process.

Popular audit checklists include the Standard Work Audit, the Lean Assessment Audit,
and the 5S Scorecard.

Audit Assessment Calibration

How do you get diverse people to assess audit questions using consistent criteria?


Are you ready for your next audit?

  1. The most senior leader reviews audit criteria with subordinate leaders — getting verbal agreement.
  2. Do an audit together — with each leader completing their own separate form — then compare and discuss.
  3. For the next few audit cycles (perhaps weekly) — have each leader complete an independent audit of the same area — and then get together to compare and discuss.
  4. Repeat — until audit assessments are reasonably in sync between all leaders.

Leader Standard Work

Leader Standard Work template

A Routine Accountability Habit

Leader Standard Work checklists are carried and followed by every Team Leader,
Department Supervisor, Value Stream Manager, and top-level executive —
as a way to systematically get above-average results from average people.

Stand Up Meeting

A Routine Accountability Habit

The Systems2win Leader Standard Work template includes detailed suggestions for how to structure 4 tiers
of routinely-scheduled stand up meetings — usually held in front of the team's Team Accountability Board.

  1. Team Leader with production team members
  2. Department Supervisor with Team Leaders
  3. Value Stream Manager with Supervisors and support resources
  4. Executive or Plant Manager with Supervisors and Value Stream Managers

Coaching Kata for the Improvement Kata

What are some field-tested guidelines for how to coach people?

What questions should I ask when I'm the Lean Leader on my gemba walks, or my audit discussions,
or the Leader Standard Work review meetings with my subordinates, or as part of regularly-scheduled
stand up meetings?

How does a lean coach think? And teach his people to think the same way?

That is the subject of the Coaching Kata habits
taught in Chapter 8: The Coaching Kata: Leaders as Teachers
of Mike Rother's book, Toyota Kata,
and his website expands the instruction even further in the Toyota Kata Handbook.

Mike's book, however, focuses on how to serve as a Coach for one specific process —
the Improvement Kata, which is appropriately used when one specific condition is encountered:
Navigating Unknown Territory.

If you are navigating unknown territory, then use your PDCA Coaching template.

If you are not navigating unknown territory, then you should be using your Tool Selection Matrix
to find a more appropriate approach for the challenge you are facing at the moment.

And every one of those other lean tools and methods needs a corresponding coaching system.

Also see more suggested readings for Lean Management




"The primary role of managers must shift from fire fighting
to designing, aligning, and improving systems."

~ Dr. Shingo Shingeo

Bookmark = LeanCoaching

Lean Coaching habits for ANY Lean System

Every lean system needs a coaching system.

Suggestion: Bookmark this
section of this page,
and come back often
until these coaching habits
become absolutely ingrained
in everything you do

Here are some lean coaching habits that should become so ingrained
that they are "just the way we do things around here".

Do 2 things at once

As a Coach, your goals are:

  1. to get things done
  2. to teach your people to use lean thinking in everything they do


Go to the place where the work is done — and observe what is happening for yourself.
Go there repeatedly. Most coaching should be done where the work is done.

Ask non-leading questions

The best questions might have more than one obvious answer — and cause your people to honestly think and reflect, and maybe come up with ideas that you might have never considered.

Ask leading questions

Don't let your Learner wander too far away from the general direction of the target challenge.

Be systematic

Expand your own personal competence with a wide variety of process improvement tools and methods,
so that you can suggest helpful field-proven systematic approaches to any challenge.

Be creative

If there is no well-known standard lean system that exactly fits what you're trying to accomplish,
then use your Tool Selection Matrix to start with the closest one, then personalize it — using what you know about Lean Principles and your team's imagination to apply those principles in new, creative ways.

Have a 2nd Coach

Every sensei needs a sensei.
Every lean coaching system should include a systematic way to coach the coach.

mounting a horse

Truth in humor

See our short article on
Getting Team Members to Do What You Want

  1. The dog training school of thought
  2. The horse training school of thought
  3. The cat training school of thought

Bookmark = Training

Follow these links to more...

Lean Management

Training & Demo Videos

More training for lean management

The Sample and Help worksheets of every template
always contain links to training relevant to THAT template










Video: Introduction to


Bookmark = Reading

Suggested Reading and Resources

If you appreciate our free on-line training, you can support us by buying your books through these links to Amazon.com


More suggested reading


These lean management templates
are most useful when bundled with the process improvement templates
that the people you're managing will use
to actually improve their processes

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