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Every lean practitioner occasionally wishes for a simple, fun, and quick-read introduction to lean thinking to give acquaintances, associates, and family members – even to our kids. If lean thinking often entails unlearning a plethora of bad habits, wouldn’t it better if we learned better thinking – and habits – from the beginning?

Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade is just that sort of book. It brings lean back to its original simplicity by showing how lean is alive in a first grade classroom. The book connects common lean tools to the broader lean journey, shows how to identify and eliminate waste, and aids the reader in seeing lean for what it truly is: a way to create a learning and problem-solving culture.

Written to educate the entire organization on the fundamentals of lean thinking, this is the perfect source to engage all team members at all levels of an organization. Originally self-published in 2008, LEI is proud to re-issue this book and make it available to the broader lean community.


“Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade supports Turner’s learning about how our people can establish pull planning, create flow, and utilize visual management, and other lean concepts and tools to support a range of improvements and goals across our company. “

- Bob Grimes, Vice President, Director of Lean, Turner Construction Company

Publisher:  Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.
ISBN-13:  978-1-934109-37-3
Publication Date:  July 5, 2012
Number of Pages:  105
About the Author
Praise for the 2008 edition

"An engaging and accessible overview ... As it happens, my wife teaches grade school and I can confirm that we do indeed learn 5S, visual management, and the other lean basics at a young age. Why do we forget?"

- Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting the Right Things Done, Andy & Me, and The Remedy


"An entertaining way to help your organization appreciate the broad possibilities to apply lean and the tremendous impact it can have with suppliers, customers, and within the company."

- Mark Richards, President, Associated Warehouses Inc.


"This unique work confirms the universal application of lean, no matter how old you are or what you do. Recommended reading for all!"

- Helen Zak, President & COO, ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value


"An exciting and fresh perspective on time-honored lean principles. Proves the application of lean principles enables us to eliminate waste from all areas of our lives, whether it is work, home, or even our local elementary school."

- Gary Vance, Director of Lean Development, JW Aluminum


"An excellent source to help your organization begin thinking about and understanding just what it means to implement and become lean. Create the critical thinking to get your lean transformation off to the right start."

- Jim Huntzinger, President, Lean Accounting Summit


"From the front office to the shop floor, this is the book everybody in your organization should read!"

- John Rickerby, President, First Concrete Ltd.


"Weaves lean priciples into an experience everyone can relate to. No matter how far along you are on your lean journey, this book has something for you. This should be required reading for all organizations."

- Steve Scholten, Professor of logistics