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Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Low Cost Ways to Learn Lean

Sometimes I am asked how I learned Lean either from those who want to do the same or by those who want to clarify my experience. I was fortunate to have studied with a Toyota Sensei for a number of years. For anyone who has experienced this kind of teaching it truly is a unique opportunity for learning. I also have a number of Lean certifications for those who like that sort of thing. I don’t want to get into that debate in this article but there is place for certification as part of overall learning.

I thought what I would do is to share 10 low cost ways that you can go about learning more about Lean thinking.

1. Read books. There is an unlimited supply of highly rated books available to help you succeed. I have highlighted a number of notable books on this site. Start your collection today.
2. Company library. Many companies have their own libraries and training that are available for the asking. You could even hold a lunch and learn session where a group gets together to review a book that the group is reading collectively.
3. Go online. Who hasn’t Googled to learn more on a topic? A simple online search will reveal a wide range of online webinars and training courses, many of them free or low-cost. This can be a great way for you to learn at your own pace and when it’s convenient for your schedule.
4. Join a professional association. Industry associations and trade organizations offer a variety of training options, including conferences, seminars, certifications and more. There may be a cost associated with some of this training, and access to some of the resources may require membership. As many of you know I am the VP of Programs for the Northeast Region of AME where I am responsible for these learning workshops.
5. Listen to podcasts. Podcasts are becoming increasingly media savvy learners. They often include product information or interviews with experts in a particular field and tend to cover fairly narrow topics.
6. Read blogs. Online publishers are another great source for information to enhance your skills. I prefer my own blog but I continue to learn some much from other bloggers which I highlight monthly.
7. Attend a webinar. Webinars are another area of increasing popularity for learners due to the flexibility of scheduling and the ease of attendance. Jeff Hajek and I have been offering webinars for about a year now. If you missed any you can see them replayed here.
8. Go to a conference. By attending conferences, trade shows, and workshops you can find quality teachings. Guest speakers entertain, educate and inspire their audiences through motivational and informational presentations. I had a recent talk about Lean Product Development that you may remember.
9. Network. Local groups that share your interest in a particular topic, offer a great forum to learn and share information for little or no cost. Special interest groups within these groups can offer further topic specialization and can be a tremendous way to learn or be mentored. I am an active participant in AME’s northeast region network as well as the Western Mass Lean Network.
10. Learn by doing. Human beings can definitely learn by hearing, reading, watching, seeing, and analyzing…but when it comes to getting results you simply cannot learn better than to learn by DOING. You learn best by doing.

Take advantage of as many of these training approaches as you can, and you will well on your way to learning Lean thinking. Staying current with the newest knowledge and ideas, and acquiring the skills to support it, is a necessity for lifelong learning. Take an hour each day to learn how to be more productive and successful by learning a new skill and applying this new expertise in your business.

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  1. I would also like to add online communities and discussion forums to this list.

    Actually the only thing you need to learn lean is passion to learn and no fear to practice by experiments.

  2. People learn by doing, so for those starting out I suggest they try and apply the principles in one place at home first. The daily discipline required for lean can be embedded at home with little or no cost.
    With practice comes experience and learning's that can fuel the passion.

  3. This is spot on. One of the major benefits of the web is the sheer wealth of material that is freely available. Learning has never been so easy or as much fun as it is today.

  4. Going to conferences and listening to guest speakers will definitely boost your knowledge if you want to really learn more. Thank you very much.