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Lean 101 Learning Path


New to Lean Thinking & Practice and not sure where to start? Try LEI's Lean 101 Learning Path to help guide your learning.

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STEP 1: Building Awareness
(Start where it makes sense for you)


Discussion Question
(Use these to prompt your thinking as you process this material.)

Lean in One Drawing Animation

This animation shows the concept of thinking about lean as a system and to demonstrate the linkage between lean tools and how the system can create organizational advantage.

Are you able to distinguish between normal and abnormal in your work processes?

Lean Cartoon: Lean Glasses Graphic

A lean take on the half-empty, half-full question.

How has lean thinking changed your perspective on things?

How to Change a Culture: Lessons From NUMMI podcast (order a PDF here)

The joint venture between Toyota and GM known as NUMMI yielded some surprising success stories, including the transformation of GM's worst plant into a world-class manufacturing model. Examining how this transformation took place provides insight into corporate-culture change and lean manufacturing.

How does this podcast relate to Deming’s quote that “A bad process will beat a good person every time?”

Do you think differently about your employees or colleagues after hearing the NUMMI story?  Why or why not?

The Lean Bakery Book

Food should be fresh. Yet we produce it in big batches. If fast-moving, small batch, one-piece flow can work with car parts, why can’t it work for our most important consumable—food. Read this fascinating story of a bakery and chain of shops in Barcelona, and be prepared to run your own experiments.

How does this story of a lean transformation compare with NUMMI’s story?

The Lean Lexicon 5th edition book (free PDF for lean.org members)

140 pages, containing 60+ illustrations and 207 key terms from A3 Report to Yokoten. It also has a simple, one-page guide to pronouncing Japanese terms.

Wondering what that “lean” word means? Here is the place to find out in one page or less.  Please keep in mind that none of these ideas or tools lives in a vacuum. (When in doubt about the systemic nature of lean, revisit “Lean in One Drawing” listed above.)  

5 Whys Animation

This animation shows the how to get to root cause when problem solving.

What is one thing you might do differently with the next problem you try to solve?

Lean Thinking Book

In the expanded second edition of the landmark book Lean Thinking, the authors revisit the companies studied in the first edition to discover that the continuing application of lean thinking has permitted these firms to prosper. In the first of two new chapters, the authors track the trend in inventory turns – the lean metric that cannot lie – across all industries, singling out one industry for special praise.

What are the 5 principles of lean and how does this list compare with: Purpose, process, People, the Lean Transformation Framework, or the TPS house?

Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade book

A quick, fun introduction to lean. 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.

This lean thinker and dad clearly found examples of lean within his child’s classroom.  Where do you see everyday examples of lean around you?


Online - Introduction to Lean Thinking and Practice course

This 30-hour online course serves as an introduction to the key concepts, philosophies, and tools associated with lean thinking and practice.

For those who want more information about the Lean Transformation Framework but are not yet familiar enough with lean for the Key Concepts of Lean workshop.

Toast Kaizen Video

This 5:12 minute video highlights the seven deadly wastes found in both administrative offices and in manufacturing processes.

Where in your daily life can you find an example of lean (or lack thereof)?


Step 2: Thinking and process
(Start where it makes sense for you!)


Discussion Question
(Use these to prompt your thinking as you process this material.)

Forward to Fundamentals Webinar

This webinar is designed to uncover the deep roots of the original lean thinking and tools and how you can better focus your own lean implementation plans and execution.

Think about your own work, can you identify overproduction?

What is the central task of management?

Work E-letter by John Shook

You may be able to create wealth through a variety of business models or ways of thinking. But if you want to create real value, and jobs that value people, you must think hard about how your people are working every day.

Is your work menial or meaningful? What are ways lean thinking can help make work more meaningful at all levels of the organization?


Key Concepts of Lean Workshop

Designed for individuals and teams that want to gain a better understanding of the components and underlying philosophy of lean, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS), and how the elements and philosophy work together to create a Lean Enterprise.


TWI fold a T-shirt Video

Training Within Industry Job Instruction is a four-step method that teaches an individual how to do a job correctly, safely, and consistently while meeting all requirements. In this video, LEI senior coach Josh Howell demonstrates standardized training for standardized work.

How is TWI Job instruction similar/different from other training programs?

Innovation in the Work Animation

Learn how innovating the work is the cornerstone of lean.


Learning to See Workbook

This groundbreaking workbook, which has introduced the value-stream mapping tool to thousands of people around the world, breaks down the important concepts of value-stream mapping into an easily grasped format.


STEP 3: Try and Practice
(Start where it makes sense for you!)


Discussion Question
(Use these to prompt your thinking as you process this material.)


Building a Lean Operating & Management System Simulation

A hands-on, mind engaging simulation-based workshop that will help you achieve a deeper understanding of lean principles and tools by developing your problem solving skills to meet critical business challenges at your workplace.


Value Stream Mapping Workshop

Learn how to use this fundamental initial step in a lean transformation to create the "blueprints" for applying other tools and targeting kaizen events most effectively.


Online - Introduction to Problem Solving Course

Learn to grasp the situation at the gemba and use all your senses to understand what is truly happening. All too often, people create countermeasures to perceived problems without digging deeper or thinking more, that is, learning at the gemba to grasp the actual situation of the problem.


Making Material Flow Workbook

Making Materials Flow describes in plain language another step in implementing a complete lean business system by explaining how to supply purchased parts to the value stream in order to support continuous flow.


Creating Continuous Flow Workbook

This workbook explains in simple, step-by-step terms how to introduce and sustain lean flows of material and information in pacemaker cells and lines, a prerequisite for achieving a lean value stream.


TWI Job Instruction Workshop

This workshop will provide an overview of TWI with a focus on the Job Instruction program. Job Instruction is the way to get a person to quickly remember how to do a job correctly, safely, and conscientiously. These work standards then provide the foundation for employee engagement, continuous improvement and problem solving.


Check your understanding:

  • Based on the resources above, can you describe some key differences between lean and a more traditional approach to work?
  • What distinguishes a lean workplace from a non-lean workplace?
  • How do you see your work or daily life differently?  

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