Developing a Lean Culture 135

This class covers strategies and tools for developing a lean culture within your company.

  • Difficulty Beginner

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 21

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • Objectives
  • What Is Lean?
  • Culture in the Workplace
  • The Pros and Cons of Developing a Lean Culture
  • Cultural Enablers: Leadership and Communication
  • Cultural Enablers: Human Development, Teamwork, and Empowerment
  • Cultural Enablers: Safety
  • Adding Value
  • Benchmarking
  • Standardizing the Production Process
  • Kaizen: Developing a Culture of Continuous Improvement
  • Implementing Kaizen with PDCA
  • Idea Systems
  • Hoshin: Planning and Policy Deployment
  • Training Employees in Lean Practices
  • On-the-Job Training
  • On-the-Job Training: Key Roles
  • Cross Training
  • Coaching and Mentoring
  • Reinforcing Lean Practices
  • Summary
  • Define the concept of lean.
  • Describe culture in the workplace.
  • List the pros and cons of developing a lean culture.
  • Distinguish between the cultural enablers of leadership and communication.
  • Distinguish between the cultural enablers of human development, teamwork, and empowerment.
  • Describe the cultural enabler of safety.
  • Describe the lean concept of adding value.
  • Describe benchmarking in the context of lean.
  • Describe the lean concept of standardization.
  • Describe the lean concept of kaizen.
  • Describe how to implement kaizen with plan-do-check-act.
  • Describe the lean tool of idea systems.
  • Describe the lean concept of hoshin.
  • Describe the required training for transitioning to lean.
  • Describe on-the-job training.
  • Describe the key roles involved in on-the-job training in the context of lean.
  • Describe cross training in the context of lean.
  • Describe coaching and mentoring in the context of lean.
  • Describe how to reinforce lean practices.
Vocabulary Term


A system for improving product quality. Benchmarking involves adapting the standards of a competitor or another successful company to improve one's own product.


Also known as nemawashi. The back and forth exchange of ideas between management and employees.


Also known as a unit. A specialized grouping of people, machines, and materials. The purpose of a cell is to efficiently produce small batches of parts.

classroom training

Training that takes place outside of the workplace.


The person who provides on-the-job training to the trainee. Coaches should have expert knowledge in their jobs and good communication skills.


The ongoing process of helping an employee to identify and overcome the hurdles that prevent him or her from excelling at the job.


A cultural enabler involved with the process of conveying information through speech, writing, or other transmission media. In lean, communication must occur between peers as well as between managers and subordinates.

continuous improvement

The belief that an organization must constantly measure the effectiveness of its processes and strive to meet more difficult objectives to satisfy customers.

cross training

The process of teaching two or more people how to do each other's jobs. Cross training results in greater job efficiency and a better quality product.

cultural enabler

The policies and practices that establish and support the changes a company is trying to make. Cultural enablers for transitioning to a lean culture include: leadership, communication, development, teamwork, empowerment, and safety.


The values, beliefs, and habits that bind together a group of people and give them a sense of identity.


A cultural enabler that involves giving employees the authority to make decisions regarding their jobs. Empowerment results in improved operations, reduced costs, and improved product quality and customer service.


The study of designing devices and arranging workspaces to decrease operator discomfort or fatigue and increase productivity.

fishbone diagram

A graphical tool used to find root causes. Fishbone diagrams are one of the tools used in lean.

flat organizational structure

An organizational structure that has relatively few layers of management between top management and employees on the shop floor. Flat hierarchies allow for better communication and more automony by employees.


Producing and moving items through a series of processing steps as continuously as possible, with each step making just the amount requested by the next step.

hierarchical organizational structure

A management structure in which there are many levels of authority ranked according to pay, authority, and responsibility. In hierarchies, communication typically flows down from managers to subordinate employees.


A management process that aligns--both vertically and horizontally--an organization's functions and activities with its strategic objectives.

human development

A cultural enabler that involves improving employee performance through on-the-job training, offsite training, and assigning higher levels of responsibility that allow the employee to gain new skills.


A person's ability to admit that he or she does not know everything, and that someone else's idea might be better. Humility allows people to keep an open mind and increases their opportunities for learning.

idea system

A process used in lean in which employees notify management of problems and opportunities for improvement and recommend solutions.


Continuous improvement of an entire value stream or an individual process to create more value and less waste.


A cultural enabler in which top management champions the transition to lean and supports employees in doing the same.


An approach to creating products and services that seeks to reduce the cycle time of processes, increase flexibility, and improve quality. Lean approaches help to eliminate waste in all its forms.


A method of protecting employees from accidental machine startup through proper locking and labeling of machines that are hazardous to nearby employees. Lockout/tagout is an essential practice for safe repair of machines.

machine guard

A shield or device covering hazardous areas of a machine to prevent contact with body parts or to control hazards like chips from exiting the machine.

mass production

The process of creating a certain product in large amounts, usually on an assembly line. Traditionally, companies have followed a mass production business model.


Teaching by example and offering guidance and support.


Also known as catchball. The back and forth exchange of ideas between management and employees.

non-value added

Any activity that does not contribute to the product or the process and should therefore be eliminated. Non-value added steps are waste.

non-value added but necessary

A production activity that ensures the value-added steps have been properly completed. For example, inspection does not contribute to the product, but it is necessary until the process can be improved to the point where inspection can be eliminated.

on-the-job training

Tasks and skills learned on-the-job. On-the-job training may be obtained through day-to-day experience or through instruction from a senior-level employee.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is a government agency under the U.S. Dept. of Labor that helps employers reduce injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace.


Plan-Do-Check-Act. A four-step scientific process used in lean for continuous improvement.

personal protective equipment

Any of various safety equipment that workers wear or use to prevent injury in the workplace. Safety glasses are common personal protective equipment.


PDCA. A four-step scientific process used in lean for continuous improvement.

quality circle

A group of employees who meet periodically with management and with each other to discuss ways to improve their work.


A cultural enabler that eliminates waste and increases productivity by enhancing ergonomics and safety measures in the workplace.

safety fence

A barrier that prevents employees from entering dangerous areas.


Teacher. A third party expert who is brought into a company to teach employees about lean.

seven wastes

The seven different kinds of waste as identified by the Toyota Motor Corporation.

skills matrix

A chart that matches employees with their specific abilities.


Also known as standardized work. The act of defining a norm to be conformed to or regulating a process. The transition to lean requires standardization of all aspects of the production process.

standardized work

Also known as standardization. The act of defining a norm to be conformed to or regulating a process. The transition to lean requires standardization of all aspects of the production process.


The person who establishes the parameters of on-the-job training and oversees the progress of the coach and the trainee.

tacit learning

Real-word experience that occurs every day on the job.


A cultural enabler that involves a group working cooperatively to achieve a common goal.


The person receiving on-the-job training.

training within industry

A training method adopted by Toyota Motor Corporation that develops the skills of supervisors. TWI is based on the idea that good supervision ensures smooth production, high quality products, and low costs.


Also known as a cell. A specialized grouping of people, machines, and materials. The purpose of a unit is to efficiently produce small batches of parts.


A real or perceived quality that satisfies the needs and wants of a customer. Value includes the features of a product, as well as other qualities associated with the product.

value added

Any part of the production process that improves the product for the customer.

value stream

The series of activities within a supply chain that add value from the perception of the customer. The value stream involves the series of activities needed to create a product.

value stream map

A sophisticated flow charting method that uses symbols, metrics, and arrows to help visualize processes and track performance. This method helps determine which steps of a process add value and which do not.

value stream mapping

The process of creating a visual layout of all the processes required to make a product.


Any thing or process that does not add value to a product. The goal of lean is to eliminate waste.


A Japanese term used in lean. Yokoten means sharing information "across everywhere."