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Lean Tools, Training, and Systems

Lean Tools

8 Types of Lean Tools

1) Lean Tools for 5S Problem Identification

The primary reasons for doing 5S are:

  1. to reveal problems

    because problems can't be solved until they are revealed

  2. to establish a culture

    where people are encouraged to reveal problems

    because any process that appears to have no problems is certain to be concealing huge problems that will never be fixed until management makes it safe for people to shine bright spotlights in previously dark corners

5S Check List  5S Standard 5S Red Tags
5S Tools


3 popular 5S tools are the 5S Scorecard Audit Checklist, 5S Standards Clarification worksheet, and the Red Tag Log.

2) Lean Tools for Problem Solving

Some lean leaders say that...

All lean tools are for problem solving

And they are right. There are, however, about a dozen tools that are specifically designed for solving a wide variety of common problems.


3 popular Problem Solving tools are the A3 Report, the PDCA template, and tools to lead a Kaizen Event.

3) Lean Templates for Standard Work

The 4th S... Standardize...
is by far the most difficult of the 5 S's... and the most important.


What's the point of trying to improve anything if your people just nod their heads and pretend to go along with the agreed-upon changes, and then just go right back to doing things the same way they've always done them?


3 popular Standard Work tools are the Standard Work Audit, Yamazumi operator work load balancing, and the Kanban Calculator.

4) Templates for Lean Training

As things change, you need to
train your people to do things new ways


By definition, continuous improvement is continuous.

We're not living in the 1800's any more. These days, things change often and change fast.

Without excellent systems for rapid, reliable training and re-training, there will be mistakes that affect quality, mistakes that affect safety, mistakes that affect costs...


3 popular lean templates for training are TWI Job Breakdown sheet (for 1-on-1 instructor training), the Training Matrix (for cross-training), and Work Instructions (to comply with ISO 9000, FDA, and other controlled compliance environments.

5) Process Observation and Analysis

Go to the gemba and see


The gemba is where the work actually happens.

You can't do lean process improvement by sitting in a conference room shuffling through possible outdated or inaccurate process routings and time standards.


3 popular tools for Process Observation and Analysis are the Muda Waste Observation form, the Cycle Time Observations form, and the Block Diagram.

6) Lean Tools for Heijunka Flow

Some lean leaders say that...

Flow is the most important focus of lean

Others might say that flow is one of the most important focuses of lean.


3 popular tools for lean flow are the Pitch Chart (for heijunka load leveling), Pull Queue Status (for monitoring FIFO lanes), and your suite of templates for value stream management.

7) Flowcharts and Process Engineering

Some processes simply don't fit well with traditional lean tools and methods.

Some processes need other tools

ERP systems, lengthy projects, and complex processes can get tangled up and hard to analyze.


3 popular tools for untangling complex process flows are the Swim Lane Cross Functional Flowchart, the (Swiss Army knife) simple flowchart, and Machine Balancing.

8) Lean Tools for Lean Management

Perhaps this category should have been listed first, because

Lean isn't possible without leadership


3 popular tools for Lean Management are the Values List Forced Choice Paired Comparison Matrix, SQDC Team Huddle Board headers, and the One Good Idea Before and After Storyboard.

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How to choose the right lean tools

Use your Tool Selection Matrix (1ToolSelection.xlsx)
to select the right Process Improvement Tools for what you need next.

Tool Matrix

A typical lean journey starts with some combination of value stream mapping, kaizen, and/or 5S workplace organization.

It usually isn't long before you reach that all-important fourth S... to 'Standardize'

and you learn first-hand how important it is to lock in your gains with Standard Work, and Visual Work Instructions, so that people don't simply backslide into old habits, and erode so many of your hard-won gains.

yellow brick road

Road map for a typical
Lean Transformation

Most lean journeys start with customer-facing operations, and then slowly make their way to white-collar lean office supporting functions.

Your Systems2win lean templates empower your leaders with the full suite of Process Improvement tools to not only get you started on your Lean journey — but to grow with your people as they mature through the years; continuously improving your tools, training, and systems for continuous improvement.

These Lean tools come with an entire suite of Process Improvement Tools


for lean process improvement





Did your consultant leave you with teachable, repeatable systems?

There are valid reasons why a consultant might want newcomers to learn unfamiliar lean methods using pencil and paper, and some lean methods really can be done forever using only pencil and paper,

but many of those reasons dry up once your managers are left to mentor a large number of people using a large number of lean methods over a long period of time.

In the end, it becomes your leadership responsibility to choose the lean tools and lean training systems to affordably support and perpetuate your lean management systems and your lean culture.



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