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Lean Facilitators: What they do and what they need to know

More and more organizations are discovering the need for trained facilitators as they move in the direction of implementing continuous process improvement (CPI), Lean, and Six Sigma.  In this blog I will refer to this position as Lean facilitator.  The purpose of this blog is to (a) describe the roles and responsibilities of Lean facilitators(b) describe the areas of knowledge and skill that Lean facilitators should possess, and (c) provide resources for building both.   

What does a Lean facilitator do?

The answer varies by organization.  In general, the Lean facilitator will do some or all of the following:

  • Expedite the continuous improvement process
  • Design seminars and workshops
  • Teach and use the traditional problem solving skills including:  brainstorming, cause and effect diagrams, Pareto analysis, 5 Whys, 5 S housekeeping, P-D-C-A problem solving, and related topics
  • Participate on the CPI/Lean leadership team
  • Provide process critique and feedback for individual managers and for groups
  • Conduct value stream maps/workflow analysis
  • Apply statistical process control concepts
  • Consult with individual managers
  • Lead Kaizen events
  • Facilitate teams and task forces

Where can a Lean facilitator find training?

There are a number of organizations that offer high quality training.  We provide in house facilitator training events.  Other organizations that offer proven facilitator training include:

What does a Lean facilitator need to know?

Above I described the role of the CPI/Lean facilitator in an organization.  Here, I have identified the key knowledge areas a Lean facilitator must know to be effective.  If your organization is implementing Lean or considering the use of internal process improvement teams, you can use the areas below to aid your facilitator selection process.  Specifically, when considering internal candidates that would make ideal facilitators, rate them on the extent to which they have knowledge and experience on the areas below:

  • Organization design and change
  • Continuous improvement process/Lean/Six Sigma theory and practice
  • Team building, group dynamics, and process facilitation
  • Seminar and workshop design and implementation
  • Workflow analysis and related industrial engineering techniques
  • Statistical process control
  • Coaching techniques
  • Measurement systems and their implementation
  • Productivity analysis
  • Statistical process control work including charts and graphs

Resources for Lean facilitator skills 

An excellent resource on facilitation skills is the International Association of Facilitators Handbook of Group Facilitation by Sandy Schuman.  This book focuses on skills for facilitating any problem solving team whether the focus is continuous improvement or some other topic.  A resource that focuses on the CPI/Lean topics is The Toyota Way Fieldbook by Liker and Meier.  Happy Facilitating!


Dr. Peter Scontrino


Related articles on Lean and Continuous Process Improvement:

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2 Responses to “Lean Facilitators: What they do and what they need to know”

  1. krish February 4, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    well written blog about lean facilitators. thanks for sharing

  2. Gary February 11, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Lean facilitators are helpful in the growth of the business in an effective way. Your blog provides good information about them. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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