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LEAN Certification Opportunities

LEAN Certification Opportunities

LEAN Certification Opportunities

Sorry in advance for the long background info blurb below, but I am trying to give potential responders enough information to help them focus their responses without having to do a lot of back and forth posts.

My company has decided to invest in LEAN operations and engineering.  I am a project engineer, not management, but I would like to show my willingness to support the process by obtaining a LEAN certification on my own if possible.

I have searched the internet for the basics as well as searching and reading the threads here on Eng-Tips.

I have found LEAN Certification programs from www.sme.org which has Bronze, Silver and Gold certifications that would cost me a few thousand to go all the way to the top (Gold), and I found www.expertrating.com which has a Project Management LEAN rating of Expert on sale for $99 at this time.

I realize you get what you pay for so I am assuming that the $99 rating is similar to the diploma mills we often read about on these forums, so I will consider that an outlier and drop it.  But is www.sme.org the most cost effective way to go for a genuine, industry recognized LEAN certification?

I am not deliberately trying to slam www.expertrating.com as I don't know anything about them, and if I was confident I would receive an industry accepted LEAN certification for only $99 I would jump at the chance.  But experience has taught me that such a large gap in costs usually means the low cost options would be regarded in a similar manner to an undergraduate engineering degree from a non-ABET online course...in other words, not considered to be "the real thing" (and usually for good reason).

I don't want to go to management with a LEAN certification that gets me laughed at for being a diploma mill (again that is only my assumption), but I don't want to spend thousands out of my own pocket if hundreds (or less) will do.

So after all that background, my question is this:  Is www.sme.org the "gold standard" in the LEAN industry and all others pale by comparison, so I should pay the bucks to get the best?  Or are there other options out there that you who live and breathe LEAN can suggest that I currently don't have the knowledge to recognize on my own as a good certification program for me?

Thanks for your consideration,


RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

I'm not aware that there is ANY type of recognized certification in Lean Implementation.  As always, I reserve the right to be wrong.  But I checked my normal source for lean learning lean.org and did not see anything.  Compare this with Six Sigma Green/Black Belt training and certification through ASQ.org, which seems to be much more recognized.

The formalized concept of "lean" has been around for a couple decades, it's just been called different things at different times.  When I learned it, it was called "World Class Manufacturing".  Generally it is all based on the Toyota Production System and reducing waste in all its forms.

Not to say that SME couldn't teach you a few things for a few thousand dollars, then give you a piece of paper for the effort and expense.  But would that piece of paper actually be worth something to someone other than yourself?

It may be more prudent to draft a proposal to Mgt stating the need to purchase a few copies of The Goal, some introductory Lean Methods books from lean.org, and find the latest version of "How To Implement Lean" books by the latest lean guru consultant trying to separate folks from their money.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

If your company is truly supportive of Lean, they will select a cross-functional group for the initial training.  These folks then become the champions within the company and carry the torch from there.
If engineering is not represented then management is shorting the opportunities and requirements.  It will likely not succeed.  
If you take the trouble to acquire the training but are veiwed as an outsider then at best the certification will help in your search for a new job.
Sorry if this is a bit disjointed but I was recently laid off by a company that paid for some managers to be certified and then did absolutly nothing with the training.  
I presently work for a firm that is training a multi-level, cross functional team and it is amazing what changes are already happening.
Books are fine but this process is all about being on the shop floor and getting the tools to the people who make the $$$$$!

RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

I recently went through some lean training for my company.  They put me through an online class from BMG.  The cost was $800.  I have not received any kind of certification though.  But a upper employee here who is a certified lean master told me he would certify me after I completed a Lean project.  So that is a possbile route.  $800 is a lot better than thousands, but it is a lot more than $99.  

On a side note I will tell you I learned more from reading the book "Lean Thinking" than from the class.  Also I have never heard anybody say something negative about a 6-Sigma certification someone got from one place or another.  Its how you apply it that counts.   


RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

I would like to thank each of you for your kind responses.  I am new to LEAN so hearing from other engineers who have "been there, done that, got the T-shirt" is a huge help.

Based on what I have read here, my current actions have been to recommend a list of books to my manager to consider having the company obtain for the library, and to borrow his copy of "LEAN Thinking" which I am currently reading.

Once I finish the book he should be through his manager level LEAN training and can probably advise me on the direction the company intends to take and how I can possibly prepare myself to support that direction.

Fortunately I work for a good manager as in the past I have always been able to say, "How can I improve my value to the company?" on numerous occasions and I always get some good feedback on company direction and projects that are important where I can fit in.

Of course sometimes my willingness to delve into anything from which I can learn gets me into some rather boring projects, but it often gets me into some doggone exciting ones too!

Again thanks for all the info and I will be referring back to your reponses often for the next few weeks while I continue my learning journey.

At least if the company is willing to pay for a certification I am on the list of those non-management folks who are willing to help.  And if it becomes prudent to get my own certification your responses will guide me there as well.



RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities


  I agree with much of what the previous members said, especially with assembling a cross-functional team.  It is paramount to form a team from all aspects of the company to assemble a proper action plan for "leaning" the company and increasing performance.  I have worked with both Six Sigma and ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence), which is United Technologies' program.  All lean programs have a basic set of tools for identifying key processes and customers, evaluating metrics and putting improvements into the system.  

With all that said, certification from some organization is simply a joke.  You can't pay someone else to certify your company and actually obtain true benefit (other than some marketing benefit).  The only true method to define your certification in going lean is actually measuring your improved performance through the tools of the program (like a MFA, Market Feedback Analysis or QCPC, Quality Clinic Process Control, you can look those up).  Many companies slapping a certification on their homepage usually means they're actually in trouble and need some kind of pick-me-up.  However, a whole company truly going lean becomes a sharpened tool that has tremendously improved business processes.  This applies to engineering (better quality products, improved lead times, etc.) to all departments.  

Lean manufacturing is a tremendous step for a company.  The certification is just a facade; the performance is where it truly matters.  A lot of this information is available, especially on company websites with internal programs.  Going lean takes time and quite the commitment from all members of the company.

Best of luck,


Kyle Chandler


RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

Lean manufacturing usually starts at the level you start making a sellable part. I my case it was the assembly process of a skid steer loader. I would recommend that a consultant who has done a lean manufacturing implementation previously be hired. In my case it was Porsche Consulting. Porsche has lean processes going throughout their assembly facility on their cars. Management must support this totally and be willing to make a strong and long term committment to lean. In our facility the complete factory has been transformed and annual savings of about $3.5 million have been realized. Certifications don't really mean a whole lot in lean. Lean you either believe it works and work toward it or you are against it and the third group are the people on the fence who say prove it works and what's in it for me. Many companies talk about doing lean but hardly ever actually do it. They do superficial changes and then drop the program.

Lean works but implementation is hard work and requires a cultural change in the facility.  

RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

kchan711 and BillPSU thanks for the additional info.  It remains to be seen if our company intends to get seriously LEAN or if they are just going to go for a certification to attract potential customers.  That is up to senior mgt and I am a long way from them (organizationally) so it will be a while before I can discern their intent.

One thing that they have done which appears serious is that we did contract with both North Carolina State University (a strong engineering school) and Wake Forest (a strong mgt school) to have them both supply LEAN experienced lecturers for LEAN training.  In an even better sign, the entire mgt team from the President on down to every program manager spent all of a week in LEAN training provided by these consultants.  And I am in the first group of non-management folks to be slated for LEAN training very soon.

So they may be really serious about this.  clown

RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

Working with NC State is a good move.  I had some interaction with them through their Manufacturing Extention Program on a couple of projects.  I found them to be knowledgable and practical in their application of Lean.


RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities

griffengm, you are correct.  Yesterday I had my first LEAN class and it was with two individuals from the NCSU IES (I think that is Industrial Extension Service but not sure) and they really seemed to know their stuff.  Used a simulation that we repeated throughout the day to document continuous improvement, and they both have a lot of personal experience as managers in corporations (both of them 20 years plus in mgt) that went LEAN before they decided to teach LEAN for NCSU.  I hope that they come back and show us LEAN application to engineering to complement the excellent demonstration of LEAN for manufacturing they provided yesterday.  The class had 24 folks, four of us were engineers and the balance were from mfg, purchasing, certification, quality, mgt, etc.  Very good mix!

RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities


Hopefully my late response to your post is of some help; I was busy working on my Lean Bronze Certification (SME) and have some input on the same for you. I did a lot of research on certifications before choosing LBC
There are several good points about the LBC :
1. It is from SME, AME and Shingo Prize, all of which are known all over the globe.
2. The study material is very comprehensive and has an exam after which one must submit a portfolio based on the PDCA cycle applied to 5 specific tactical (Shop floor) projects.
3. This shows the certification is not just handed out.
4. The portfolio is reviewed by Lean experts.
5.The certification comes with a title LBC (Sensei) which mean "teacher" in Japanese, it is real honor to be called a sensei.
From my research no other certification comes close (except ASQ certifications)
SME is the Gold standard in Lean training and certfification.


2thumbsup Mech Rulz 2thumbsup

RE: LEAN Certification Opportunities


Thank you for the response.  I will do some research into the SME LBC as well.


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