Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Do you have what it takes to be a Lean Sensei?

To understand the term "Lean Sensei", lets start with the context of this blog post, defining what lean is, and what Sensei means. In the context of this blog post I am speaking on the topic of lean six sigma in manufacturing. Lean Six Sigma is a powerful and rigorous business transformation methodology that combines the principles of Lean & Six Sigma. The primary principle behind Lean is to reduce or eliminate waste from a process and make it efficient. The primary principle behind Six Sigma is to reduce process variation by identifying the root cause of the problem and eliminating defects.

Lean Six Sigma helps an organization to streamline its processes by utilizing a combination of lean & six sigma principles. A Sensei is a teacher or coach in the Japanese language.  A Lean Sensei essentially is a teacher or coach that is well versed in the principles of Six Sigma & Lean and is able to facilitate, lead, and is passionate about teaching others these concepts selflessly. A Lean Sensei can be a role within a manufacturing organization, or it can be that of an outside consultant.

Are you a Sensei? Budding Monk Image
Original Image Courtesy of
An experienced Sensei has the ability to recognize and baseline a current situation by asking "what is getting in your way of doing this right" or "where is the process failing or differing from an ideal state". Most lean practitioners are trained to look for "waste" in processes. That seems like the most obvious thing to do. But, to be truly successful in practicing and teaching lean, we must look deeper at the root cause and what is causing the process to deviate from the ideal state. A Lean Sensei is a relentless, passionate and dedicated leader that can help lead organizations as they transform and adopt a lean culture holistically.

So, do you think you have what it takes to be a Lean Sensei? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

I am a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and have led several process improvement initiatives over the past few years. I also co-teach a Six Sigma Green Belt Online Certification Program online through the American Foundrymen's Society (AFS). So, when I get asked the question, "Are you a Lean Sensei?", I almost always respond NOT YET! That is an honor I reserve for my client or my employer to bestow upon me some day.

If you would like to learn more about the principles of Lean Six Sigma and other process improvement methodologies, please contact me. You can also read How a Commercial Photography Studio Successfully Applied Lean Principles to Tackle Waste

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