Strategies for Sustaining Lean Transformation

Sustaining Lean- Top Strategies from Lean Leaders to create Dynamic Development Programs

Here are some of the consolidated thoughts and ideas that were shared by the participants of the Lean Executive Day workshop on Resolving Conflicting Pressures. For a more information email us at [email protected] or visit

Q. Sustaining Lean and creating a dynamic development program for all staff at all levels. What is the most effective method for successfully ensuring all staff have the knowledge and comfort level to understand, support and get involved in Lean transformation on an ongoing basis?

1. Decide how to measure the success of the development program:

This is important, as eventually the question will be raised about the expense versus the benefit

Many companies adopt a four level assessment of their lean education and training:

  • Smile sheets – surveys of classroom training from the participants
  • Exams and tests, to assess what was taken away versus the learning design, and to gauge teaching effectiveness as time goes on
  • Transfer to workplace – making sure the knowledge is actually being used in real life – assessed through brief project reports, report-outs, and formal visits
  • Education return on investment – assessed through collecting and summarizing improvement activities throughout the organization and their bottom line impact

2. The most effective lean learning method tends to be a mix of theory, punctuated by examples, and then real life practice with coaching from an expert.

You have to decide how much theory is right for your size and culture:

  • Some organizations have large formal programs with certifications – these can work very well, and can develop all round experts
  • Other organizations find that smaller chunks, in a more informal environment, applied right away, give them great results

3. Bring in the knowledge to start with

  • A credible, experienced consultant can bring knowledge to the staff and help with the first few improvements
  • The goal of the consultant should be to transfer knowledge so the staff can do future improvements on their own
  • Alternatively, hire someone that has the experience and background, with good coaching skills

4. Constantly review your training strategy to make sure it fits. Don’t assume that one strategy will work for you forever.

5. Try to ensure that everyone gets some level of training and education on lean – this drives enthusiasm:

  • Champion’s training for senior folks
  • Advanced lean training for value stream leaders and team leads including value stream mapping
  • Just in time (learn and use) introduction to lean, and tools training for all improvement teams
  • Make sure to include your functional teams like Finance and HR as enablers to the lean improvements.