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Lean Tools, Training, and Systems

Lean Leadership

Training to help you get the most from your systems for continuous process improvement


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What is lean culture?

Lean culture is when continuous improvement is done with people, not to people.

Your most valuable assets are the ones that think.
A lean culture treats your most valuable assets as if they were valuable.

There are 3 primary cultural enablers

1) Lean Leadership by example

Executive leaders and change agents that are role models and mentors for lean principles and lean systems.

2) People development and empowerment

A lean culture uses Lean Management Systems to teach and coach every person and team at every layer of the organization — to systematically highlight (never hide) problems, and then systematically apply Problem Solving Methods, in never-ending cycles of continuous improvement — (focusing not on 'blaming' or 'heroic fire-fighting', but instead...) focusing on improving systems for teachable, repeatable standard work.

3) Environmental and safety systems

That reflect honest respect for individual and community well-being.

These 3 traits of a lean culture can exist whether or not an organization chooses to embark upon the path of a typical lean journey.

What's the difference between
lean management and lean culture?

Lean culture is the sum of individuals' habits

Lean management is a systematic way to shape those habits

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast."   ~ Peter Drucker

testimonial quote


Lean Leadership

There are hundreds of books on the subject of lean leadership.

Rather than trying to recap teachings from those books, see our Suggested Readings for Lean Management.

Because the focus of this web site is lean tools, let's talk for a moment about...

Lean Tools for Lean Leadership

1) The higher up the ladder, the higher the importance of making complex decisions

So the types of lean leadership tools that might most benefit the responsibilities of senior leaders might include:

2) The higher up the ladder, the lower percent of time spent doing routine things

And what do leaders do with routine things?

Delegate them... right?

And delegated routine things need to be standardized, right?


  • So that everyone does it the same consistent (best) way.
  • So that you can easily and systematically monitor expected vs. actual results.
  • So that you can achieve extraordinary results from ordinary people.
messy boys

Who needs standard work?


Lean Teams

Popular ways to organize your process improvement teams

1) Daily Accountability Teams

The backbone of your lean daily management system

One of the most noticeable differences between a new vs. a mature lean organization is the percent of improvements generated by their Lean Daily Management System.

In a mature lean organization:

Any improvements that are within the control of a single team should routinely and systematically be found and improved by that team.

Every team member not only knows which tools to use to solve diverse problems, but also understands the underlying lean principles, and comes up with creative ways to apply them to unique challenges.

A much larger percentage of ideas for cross-team improvements are generated and trickled up from the Daily Accountability Teams.

All other types of teams are needed only for processes that cross team boundaries.

In a less mature organization:

Opportunities for improvement come much more frequently from lean leadership or "outside eyes" that have become more adept at learning to see opportunities to eliminate waste and therefore each of the following types of cross-functional teams have even greater importance in the early stages of an organization's lean journey.

Old style management

Still managing the old way?

Have you tried
Lean Management Systems?

Change Agent

The effectiveness of any team is determined primarily by the effectiveness of your Change Agent.

2) Kaizen Event Teams

A Kaizen Event is one popular way to achieve dramatic process improvements in a very short time (less than a week),
by sequestering a team of representatives for all process stakeholders — who then focus 100% of their effort to perform an intense burst of improvement.

Lean training See Kaizen Event training videos

Daily Kaizen vs. Kaizen Events

Small daily improvements come from the Daily Accountability Teams

also known as Quality Circles, Process Improvement Teams, and many other names, and some organizations don't even have a name for these teams. Every team is simply organized, managed, and expected to continuously improve in measurable ways as part of their routine responsibilities.

Kaizen Events demand the full-time attention of a cross-functional team for a very intense burst of improvement.

3) A3 Charters

The A3 Problem Solving Method can be done by sequestering the team (similar to a kaizen event), or (more commonly), can be led by a champion who meets with individuals and small groups of stakeholders on a more flexible time schedule.

A3 Problem Solving is a flexible, time-effective, and popular way to organize a cross-functional improvement effort — often without the need to form a team.

It is a simple, (easily-duplicated and managed) method to systematically:

  1. Define and solve problems
  2. Teach managers how to better coach, mentor, and lead
  3. Instill lean thinking as a cultural habit

4) 8D Problem Solving

The 8D Problem Solving Method

provides a systematic way for a team to resolve an issue that has uncertain root causes in a way that ensures that root causes have been identified and verified, and that both interim and permanent corrective actions are validated for effectiveness and instituted in a way that prevents a similar situation from ever recurring or escaping again.

8D is most often used in conjunction with Corrective Action Reports if (and only if) the root cause is uncertain. Other problem methods are more appropriate if the focus is only upon decision making or problem prevention.

5) Chartered Six Sigma Teams

Another approach to solving a problem that has uncertain root causes

is to charter a DMAIC Six Sigma Team to Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and then Control the improved process usually using statistical analysis and data-gathering techniques that are appropriate for more mature organizations that have already 'picked the low-hanging fruit' by using simpler lean methods.

6) Process Improvement Teams

Lean Teams for Process Improvement

Almost every leader is familiar with a Gantt Chart and other types of Project Management tools.

Too familiar perhaps... because these 1950's approaches to team organization are only appropriate for large, complex projects — like:

For most lean implementation missions, there are usually better approaches.

7) Value Stream Teams

All of the above types of teams put the cart before the horse if the mission of the team was not first chartered by the Value Stream Team.

The purpose of a Value Stream Team is to identify which priorities will yield the most value to the flow of value through the entire value stream not just some sub-optimized sub-set of it.

8) Hoshin Policy Deployment Teams

The purpose of Hoshin Policy Deployment Teams is to ensure that every team in the entire organization is optimizing their efforts to support a synergistic Strategic Plan.

Different Hoshin Teams might use any or all of the various problem solving tools and methods at different times and for different purposes.

Word templates to define YOUR Team Roles

Your Systems2win continuous improvement tools include several Word templates that are intended to serve as a starting point for your Continuous Improvement Leaders to create PDF's of YOUR company’s continuous improvement leadership roles:

And then your personalized PDF's are then distributed the same way that you store and distribute all of your company’s policies.

Team Roles template

Free Lean Leadership Templates

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

Use your new lean leadership templates for the rest of your career — free because our gamble is that once you become familiar with your Systems2win templates that have

  • 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?"

cave man trying to re-invent


Your lean leadership templates are used by lean leaders at every level of your organization


Own yours now

Return to Site Map for Lean Leadership Training


When to use these tools

in a Typical Lean Journey for Lean Transformation

  • Phase 0) Firefighting
  • Phase 1) Prepare Your Leadership
  • Phase 2) Design Value Streams to Flow
  • Phase 3) Analyze, Stabilize, Visualize, and Standardize each process
  • Phase 4) Continuously Improve
yellow brick road

Road map for a typical
Lean Transformation




Kaizen templates

Similar, familiar tools for
Continuous Improvement



Tell a Colleague







Training and Coaching

Consider Training and Coaching to support your teams to succeed


two bikers

Training to get you started.
Tools you won't outgrow.



Schedule a Conference

Schedule a conference
to discuss your challenges
with an experienced lean advisor