Lean thinking and practice helps organizations become both innovative and competitive, which in turn allows them to become sustainable.

Lean is about creating the most value for the customer while minimizing resources, time, energy and effort. A lean approach to work is about understanding what’s really going on at the place where value is created, and improving the processes by which products and services are created and delivered.

This engaging, online, go-at-your-own-pace course is designed to give you an understanding of what lean is, what it might look like in your workplace, and how to start applying it.

Learning Objectives

This course works for people new to the concepts of lean and continuous improvement, for individuals looking to improve their lean understanding and skills, and for organizations wanting to level set the lean knowledge of their workforce to speed progress.

  • Recognize where and how to apply lean principles, systems, and concepts, to increase value and eliminate waste in your daily work

  • Resolve business challenges by using scientific method, PDCA-based problem solving

  • Identify work activities as being “value-add,” “incidental,” or “waste” and understand how all three affect workflow

  • Understand the five dimensions of the Lean Transformation Framework and explain why all five are necessary for a transformation to occur

Time Estimates Per Unit*

*Actual times may vary.

Pre-Work & Reflection 2 hours
Unit 1: Value 4 hours
Unit 2: Work 15 hours
Unit 3: People 2.5 hours
Unit 4: Management Systems and Lean Leader Behavior 3 hours
Unit 5: Basic Thinking 2 hours
Post-Work & Reflection
Total ~30 Hours


Senior Instructor

John Shook

John Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and other operations around the world. While at Toyota's headquarters, he became the company's first American kacho (manager) in Japan. In the U.S., Shook joined Toyota’s North American engineering, research and development center in Ann Arbor, Michigan as general manager of administration and planning. His last position with Toyota was as senior American manager with the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, Kentucky, assisting North American companies adopt the Toyota Production System.

Shook co-authored Learning to See, the book that introduced the world to value-stream mapping. He also co-authored Kaizen Express, a bi-lingual manual of the essential concepts and tools of the Toyota Production System. With Managing to Learn, Shook revealed the deeper workings of the A3 management process that is at the heart of Toyota’s management and leadership.

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