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Introduction to Lean Thinking

85 minutes of course content

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Course Description

This course, adapted from the MIT Open Courseware library, gives an introduction to the principles of Lean Thinking. Through a series of recorded lectures, this course defines and gives an overview of the process behind Lean Thinking as well as its five fundamental elements. This course originally took place at MIT in January 2012.

After taking this course, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the elements of a process
  • Draw a process map
  • Explain what constitutes value in a process
  • List the five fundamental lean principles
  • Describe several concepts and tools for implementing lean principles


  1. Overview - 3 minutes

    1. Overview and Objectives
    2. What Do You Already Know?
  2. Process - 15 minutes

    1. Defining Process and the Customer
    2. Process Mapping
    3. Exercise and Discussion: Hot Dog Stand Process Mapping 
  3. Fundamentals - 5 minutes 

    1. Five Lean Thinking Fundamentals
  4. Value and Value Streaming - 15 minutes

    1. Identifying and Specifying Value
    2. Identifying Value Streams
    3. Tools to Correct Value Stream Issues
  5. Value Flow - 15 minutes

    1. Making Value Flow
    2. Exercise and Discussion: Hot Dog Stand Time
    3. Time Value Charts
  6. Pull - 20 minutes

    1. Defining Pull and Moving from Pull to Flow
    2. Tak Time
    3. Tools for Pull 
    4. Visual Controls and Andon
  7. Wrapping Up - 5 minutes

    1. Pursuing Perfection
    2. What Do You Know Now?

Earll Murman, Hugh McManus, Annalisa Weigel, and Bo Madsen. 16.660J Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Methods, January IAP 2012. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 23 Jun, 2015). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

About the Expert

MIT Open Courseware

MIT Open Courseware

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
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Hugh McManus

Hugh McManus

Hugh McManus develops, teaches and applies advanced methods in lean process improvement, systems engineering and preliminary design, and composite materials and structures, for a variety of corporate, government, and university clients.
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