Guide to Lean
Government Training


•   Lean in Government Starter Kit: How to Plan and Implement Lean Initiatives at Environmental
    Agencies, Version 3.0
•   Working Smart for Environmental Protection: Improving State Agency Processes with Lean and
    Six Sigma
•   Lean in Air Permitting Guide
•   Lean Leadership Guide
•   Lean Government Event Scoping Guide
•   Lean Government Metrics Guide
These resources, as well as case studies and other information about Lean government, can be
found on EPA's Lean Government website (
                            Guide to Lean Government Training

Guide  to  Lean  Trainin
This Guide to Lean Government Training provides information and guidance to help government
agencies determine what kind of training and capacity building would be useful to support their
Lean process improvement efforts.  This Guide assumes the reader is familiar with Lean
government, which is the application of Lean methods to government processes. Lean enables
environmental agencies to work more effectively and efficiently to protect human health and the
environment by identifying and eliminating waste in government processes. Sections of this
Guide include:
   •  Identifying goals for Lean training
   •  Designing a Lean training program
   •  Lean training options
   •  Lean training progression

This Guide is  a product of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Lean Government
Initiative ( and a supplement to the Lean in Government Starter
Kit, which provides guidance and practical resources on how environmental agencies can use
Lean methods to improve their processes and operations.

Identifying Goals for Lean Training
Training and capacity building are
important foundations for sustainable
process improvement programs and key
to fostering a continual improvement
culture within an organization. Other
elements of an effective continual
improvement system are: leadership,
communications, performance
measurement, and a process improvement
methodology. See Version 3.0 of EPA's
Lean in Government Starter Kit for more
information and guidance on these
aspects of building a Lean continual
improvement organization.
The most effective forms of training are those that have an applied, value-added focus. Many
organizations starting out with Lean or Six Sigma falsely assume that they need to do a lot of
traditional training before beginning process improvement activities.  Unlike TQM, which places
a heavy emphasis on training as a mechanism for process improvement, Lean is primarily a
"learn by doing" approach. For this reason, many Lean training courses incorporate simulation
exercises to give participants a sense of how Lean concepts and tools work in practice.
Similarly, Lean and Six Sigma certification programs generally involve a combination of
coursework and requirements for participants to complete improvement projects at their
organizations. For many Lean event participants, their primary Lean training is provided on day
1 of the Lean event (this is sometimes called "just in time" training), to prepare them to engage
in the process-improvement activities during the remainder of the event.  A large component of
your organization's Lean training may come as a "byproduct" of conducting kaizen events and
generating process improvement results!  By  immediately applying the knowledge learned in
just-in-time training in the context of an actual event, participants can quickly achieve a basic
level of proficiency in understanding and conducting Lean tools.

When deciding what Lean training is appropriate for your agency, it is important to consider the
goals of your effort.  In general, there are at least four goals for education and training efforts:
    1.  Inform and Engage: For your Lean initiative to be successful, it is critical for people in
       your agency and other important stakeholders to understand what Lean is and why it is
       important.  One category of education and training, therefore, focuses on explaining what
       Lean is, how it relates to environmental agencies, and helps build the case for "What's in
       it for me?" to managers who may be considering using  Lean to improve their processes.
    2.  Coach: Prior to Lean events, it is helpful to educate and coach key participants in the
       event, including the event sponsor, the team leader, and any other important decision
       makers who will be involved on what happens before, during, and after the Lean event,
       and how they are expected to participate during each stage.  If your agency is using an
       outside consultant facilitator, be sure the facilitator knows your expectations for the
       event, including the scope, desired approach,  briefings and report-out presentation, and
       follow-up plans, and clearly delineate the division of roles and responsibilities between
       the team leader  and facilitator. Use EPA's Lean in Government Starter Kit as a guide
       and resource for coaching presentations and discussions.
    3.  Enable:  Another key training objective is to provide the  skills and knowledge that
       people need to effectively participate in Lean events and implementation activities.
       Training for event participants focuses on Lean methods and principles, and is typically
       done (at least as a refresher) on the first day of the event.  Following the event, additional
       training is needed to educate staff on the new process and any standard work that the
       team developed, and enable everyone involved in the process to work together towards
       successful implementation.
    4.  Build Capacity: While relying on external consultants to provide Lean facilitation can be
       a valuable strategy for rapidly generating process improvements initially, there are
       advantages to developing in-house capacity for Lean facilitation and training for process
       improvement programs over time. In addition, it is useful to build the capacity of staff to
       problem-solve and identify inefficiencies as part of their daily work practices.  This
       allows process improvements to occur regularly and not wait for a kaizen event.
                              Guide to Lean Government Training |  Page 2

       Successfully conducting Lean events and other process improvement activities depends
       not only on the "technical" knowledge of Lean methods, but also softer skills such as
       project and process management, change management, and effective team dynamics.

If you're just beginning with Lean, you may not need much more than an orientation to Lean
concepts and the just-in-time training that a Lean facilitator provides during a Lean event.
However,  if you've decided to embark on a broader, process-improvement initiative, you may
want to train some staff to become continual improvement coordinators. Many environmental
agencies began their Lean efforts by relying heavily on external consultants as Lean event
facilitators, but over time have shifted towards in-house facilitation of Lean events and using
consultants only for strategic guidance or for facilitating particularly complicated or contentious
events.  The section on Lean Training Progression below provides an outline of how an agency
can adapt  its training program over time based on its evolving training and education goals.
When designing a Lean training program, it is important to consider the goals for training and
how they fit into your agency's overall process improvement goals, the audiences for the
training, and those audiences' varying needs for training. Goals for training, as noted above,
include: (1) educating employees on the value and relevance of Lean, (2) coaching key
participants on their roles in effectively conducting Lean events and follow-up activities, (3)
enabling people to use Lean methods with just-in-time training in events and understand process
changes that affect them, and (4) building capacity among staff to facilitate Lean events and
incorporate continual improvement activities into the organizational culture.

Different levels of Lean knowledge and skills are appropriate for different  audiences. The
agency staff person who is curious or skeptical about Lean may have very  different training
needs from someone who is being groomed to be one of the agency's continual improvement
coordinators. There are four levels of knowledge, defined in terms of the "Four As":

    •  Awareness: Basic understanding of concepts needed to successfully participate in
       process improvement efforts

    •  Appreciation: Broader view and understanding of concepts and methods needed for self-
       starters and higher-order contributors

    •  Application: Deeper knowledge and understanding of concepts and methods needed to
       succeed at lower levels of technical leadership (e.g., facilitating well-scoped Lean events)

    •  Authority: Thorough knowledge and understanding of concepts and methods needed to
       effectively teach the material to others and to apply the techniques across a range of
       practical  situations

Along with technical knowledge of Lean methods, it is important to consider other skills that
may be needed to support effective process improvement and change management programs. In
1 This section draws in part from the Training and Certification component of the U.S. Department of Defense, Continuous
Process Improvement / Lean Six Sigma Guidebook,

                              Guide to Lean Government Training |  Page 3

particular, people skills are often more important than technical knowledge of Lean methods.
Many Lean experts attest that Lean is 80 percent about people and only 20 percent about the
tools, so people skills are a critical success factor for Lean leaders and continual improvement
coordinators. Three categories of skills are useful to foster and develop among leaders,
managers, and staff—technical skills, human interaction skills, and conceptual skills.  Examples
of skills in each category include the following:

       •  Technical Skills: Skills to analyze process problems and to properly select and apply
          analytical tools to support process improvement efforts, such as Lean metrics,
          analysis of wastes, root-cause analysis, and value and flow analysis.
       •  Human Interaction Skills: Skills to enable teams to work effectively together to
          complete projects and achieve results, such as leadership, change management,
          communications, team dynamics, and conflict resolution.
       •  Conceptual Skills: Skills to understand the concepts of the process improvement
          methodology, such as Lean principles, project management, process management,
          problem solving, systems thinking, and decision analysis.

In general, higher level managers need greater command over conceptual skills and less
knowledge of technical skills to be  successful than do lower level staff, for whom technical skills
are more important).  Human interaction skills are important for success for all levels of workers.

                        Skill Needs across Organizational Levels
     Middle Manager
      Direct Manager
      Process Worker
            Source: Adapted from, U.S. Department of Defense, Continuous Process Improvement/Lean Six Sigma Guidebook,

Along with general Lean communication activities and the Lean training that occurs in Lean
events, many state agency Lean training programs contain two primary components: a "Lean
Boot Camp" (or "Lean Tool Awareness") training, which provides in-depth background on Lean
concepts and methods; and "Lean Facilitator" training, designed to educate participants on how
to effectively facilitate Lean events. Federal and state government agencies that incorporate Six
Sigma methods into their continuous improvement toolbox will often use the "belt" system for
denoting different levels of Lean Six Sigma proficiency (e.g., white belt, green belt, black belt
and/or master black belt).
                              Guide to Lean Government Training |  Page 4

Lean Training Options
Once you've decided on the scope and goals for your Lean training program, there are numerous
options for seeking Lean training. Continual improvement coordinators at environmental
agencies have used a wide range of sources to learn about Lean, including seeking external
training from private contractors, non-profit organizations, and universities; reading published
resources such as Lean books, this Starter Kit, and other agency Lean websites; talking with
other agencies who have implemented Lean; attending Lean events and trainings at other
agencies or companies implementing Lean; and learning by doing through participating and
facilitating Lean events. In general, categories of Lean training include:

       •   Webinars or on-line Lean training courses
       •   Classroom-style Lean training, with or without Lean simulation exercises

       •   Training associated with Lean events (just-in-time or on-the-job training)

       •   Lean certification programs, which typically combine training with a requirement to
           apply the Lean methods

There is no shortage of Lean training providers. Most private Lean consultants also offer Lean
training and coaching.  Non-profit organizations such as the Lean Enterprise Institute offer
training courses and host webinars and conferences.  The National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) has a network of Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers that provide
Lean consulting and training, and many have Lean office expertise.  Finally, educational
institutions, including university business schools and community colleges, often offer Lean and
Six Sigma  classes. Below is a sampling of organizations that provide free webinars,
downloadable video lectures, lean tools, and other useful resources. In addition, the latter portion
of the table lists organizations, including universities that offer classroom and online training

Learn More about Lean
Websites with Free Webinars and Information
Lean Enterprise
ASQ Government
Karen Martin &
The Lean Enterprise Institute is a
nonprofit education, publishing,
research, and conference organization
The American Society for Quality's
Government Division is an international
network of people who exchange
information to help improve the
performance of government.
Karen Martin & Associates is a for profit
company that offers free online webinars
that aid in your understanding of Lean
leadership, culture principles, and tools.
                              Guide to Lean Government Training |  Page 5

Websites with Free Webinars and Information
Industry Week
Learners TV
Industry is an online magazine that
provides information and online tools to
leaders in the manufacturing industry.
Learners TV is a comprehensive site
providing thousands of downloadable
video lectures and online tests in multiple
fields to include Lean Six Sigma
Organizations, Institutes and Universities
Society of
International Society
of Six Sigma
North Carolina State
University Industrial
Kent State University
Georgia State
San Diego State
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers
(SME) is the premier source for
manufacturing knowledge, education and
ISSSP is committed to the advancement of
education, research and implementation of
the Six Sigma methodology through
resources in live, print and electronic media.
The Industrial Extension Service is a
statewide, university-affiliated organization
partnering with North Carolina industry as a
catalyst for the transfer of knowledge and
technology in support of economic
Kent State weaves Lean, Six Sigma, Team-
Oriented Problem Solving and Theory of
Constraints, into a seamless certification.
Our six sigma training will enable you to
acquire sophisticated process
improvement skills that have enabled
early pioneers such as General Electric
and Motorola produce dramatic results in
corporate performance.
The Lean program introduces class
participants to the Lean philosophy by
incorporating learning tools that include
simulations, exercises, lectures, and
www2 . gsu . edu/~wwwb at/six si
Guide to Lean Government Training  |  Page 6

Your agency's needs for Lean training will evolve over the course of designing and deploying
your process-improvement initiative. A potential progression in training activities over time
could include the following:

   •   Stage 1: Learn about Lean. When beginning to adopt Lean, focus education efforts on
       helping people understand the value of Lean, and focus training on enabling managers
       and staff to be effective participants in Lean events. Learn about Lean primarily first-
       hand by attending Lean events at other agencies and by holding Lean events at your
       agency, building success stories in the process. Key goals for this stage of Lean training
       include engagement, orientation, and coaching, with applied training on methods as

   •   Stage 2: Develop Continual Improvement Coordinators  and Enhance Leadership's
       Knowledge. If your agency decides to go beyond piloting Lean to supporting broader
       Lean diffusion, it is important to build long-term capacity to support a continual
       improvement program. While continuing agency-wide Lean communications, target
       training efforts on two key enablers of process improvement efforts—facilitators and
       leaders. Develop the skills and knowledge of one or more continual improvement
       coordinators through hands-on Lean facilitation training.  Meanwhile, deepen
       leadership's comprehension  of Lean concepts, methods, and applications with a Lean
       Boot Camp or similar training.

   •   Stage 3: Expand Lean Understanding and Application.  After your agency has
       developed a core team of internal Lean facilitators, you will be well-positioned to expand
       the understanding and use of Lean, and thereby increase the benefits that can be gained
       through process improvement. At this stage, your continual  improvement coordinators
       serve as the primary agency  Lean event facilitators, training staff on Lean in the process,
       and they can also train additional facilitators. Consider whether other audiences would
       benefit from  Lean Boot Camp training, and whether there is a need for additional training
       on specific methods or implementation challenges.

   •   Stage 4: Maintain  and Enhance Knowledge. Lean training is an ongoing process—
       knowledge of process-improvement techniques and tools must be continually reinforced
       and replenished, or  it may be forgotten or diminished. Stage 4 of the Lean training
       program represents  the "sustainment" and "renewal" stage, when it is important to ensure
       that Lean leaders, continual improvement coordinators, and other agency staff have
       sufficient understanding and knowledge of Lean concepts and methods (along with
       associated people skills) to successfully engage in continual improvement activities.
Training and capacity building are important for building and sustaining successful Lean
continual improvement programs, and there are many ways that this can be accomplished.  Well-
designed training initiatives find the learning and training opportunities that are most appropriate
to support the organization's improvement goals, skill and knowledge needs, and organizational
                             Guide to Lean Government Training |  Page 7

culture, as well as the organization's stage of Lean implementation. We hope that this Guide to
Lean Training has been helpful in providing your agency with guidance for identifying Lean
training options and structuring a training program. For more Lean government resources, visit
the EPA Lean Government website at  We wish you luck in
your process-improvement efforts, and encourage you to share your ideas and experiences.
                          EPA LEAN GOVERNMENT CONTACT

     To learn more or to share your ideas and experiences, visit the EPA Lean Government website
                          ( or contact:
                                  Kim Green-Goldsborough
                                  U.S. EPA, Office of Policy
                                     (202) 566-2355

       This document was prepared for EPA by Ross & Associates Environmental Consulting, Ltd.
                             Guide to Lean Government Training  | Page 8

United States Environmental Protection Agency
              November 2011
     Guide to Lean Government Training |  Page 9