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Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Master Coach and Lean Sensei founder, David, teaching one of our own unique lean methodologies
HELP for organizations of all industries is coming in the form of lean!
Lean Sensei's newest Executive program, Hybrid Executive Lean Program (HELP), launches tomorrow.

This program offers a fast track to Executive Lean certification with its comprehensive combination of lean training, hands-on experience and deep insight into what makes lean truly effective in the small business environment.

The first of three modules begin tomorrow at Lean Sensei's training facility in Vancouver, facilitated by David Chao and Bob Low.

Stay tuned for photos from the program.

To secure your spot for next year, contact us at

Go Transform the World

Monday, September 29, 2014

Last Blackbelt Takumi Certifcation Program of the Year

Believe it or not we are approaching the end of the year and here at Lean Sensei, our last Greenbelt and Blackbelt programs for the year are in session.

Here are some photos from Blackbelt last week.

 Facilitators David (above) and Andrew (below)

 Team building activities that demonstrate key lean principles. Learning can be fun (even for adults)!

The group and a bit of sun

Friday, September 26, 2014

Greenbelt Graduation In-house Island Savings

Congratulations to the high achieving medal winners of the Greenbelt certification program!
Medal winners were chosen based on their exam scores, in-class and homework kaizen project performance and overall achievement.

Bronze -Kristine
 Gold - Gina
 Silver - James

This Greenbelt was delivered in-house at Island Savings Credit Union. If your organization would like Lean Sensei to facilitate a Greenbelt certification program exclusively for your company, contact us at 604-264-1000 or

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Executive Programs

Here are some photos from this fall's Lean Strategy and Assessment. The group are performing a lean diagnostic and then will devise a lean strategy at a local company that works with laser beams!

Lean Strategy and Assessment is worth 5 Lean Sensei executive credits.
There are still a few more courses you can take to get credits towards executive certification before the end of the year.

NEW Hybrid Executive Lean Program October 1-3, 2014

October 9, 2014

November 5-7, 2014

Lean Sales & Marketing
October 9, 2014

Lean Supply Chain
October 20-24, 2014

Lean Problem Solving
December 8-12, 2014
Click here to register. 
Email us for more information:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Greenbelt Service Fall Kick-Off

The group this Fall is comprised of healthcare, educational and government employees.

The coffee/tea simulation imparts the value of customer pull and how to integrate perceived value into the service, in a hands-on and fun way!

 Each module calls for an ice breaker manager to coordinate for an ice breaker everyday. In this one, the attendees are getting to know each other and solidifying their learnings by reflecting on the lessons of the previous day.

Lean Sensei's Greenbelt Mugen's signature chop!

The next Greenbelt will be at the beginning of the year in 2015. Registrations have already started coming in. Secure your spot by registering online:

GREENBELT        OP YVR Winter 2015       
               January 26-30, 2015
               February 23-27, 2015
               March 23-27, 2015

GREENBELT        SERVICE YVR Winter 2015            
               February 16-20, 2015
               March 16-20, 2015
               April 13-17, 2015

GREENBELT        Hybrid Spring 2015          
               April 6-10, 2015
               May 4-8, 2015
               June 1-5, 2015

GREENBELT        Hybrid Summer 2015      
               May 11-15, 2015
               June 8-12, 2015
               July 6-10, 2015

               February 23-27, 2015
               March 23-27, 2015
               April 27-May 1, 2015

               March 16-20, 2015
               April 20-24, 2015
               May 25-29, 2015

GREENBELT        OPERATIONS Tulsa Winter 2015 
               February 2-6, 2015
               March 2-6, 2015
               April 13-17, 2015

GREENBELT        OPERATIONS Orlando Winter 2015           
               April 6-10, 2015
               May 4-8, 2015

               June 8-12, 2015

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Executive Lean Strategy and Assessment

This week at Lean Sensei it's all hands on deck- we are running Executive Lean Strategy and Assessment, Blackbelt Takumi certification and Greenbelt Service certification.

The Lean Strategy and Assessment class has attendees from across Canada and the United States and across industries: re-manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, oil and gas, post secondary education to name a few. Besides unique networking opportunities, this group is focused on a highly valuable lean tool set, Lean Sensei's own methodology for performing lean diagnostics and subsequently building a sustainable lean strategy.

Lean diagnostics serve the purpose of assessing the health of a company and provide the necessary metrics and information to visualize a potential future state. The resulting gap then paves the way for constructive changes.

 Props from the fun but effective ice breaker

 Facilitators David and Bob; live testimonials and shares from fellow participants

Visualizing "the gap"

To learn how to conduct Lean Strategy and Assessments at your organization, register for our course by visiting our website.

Your next opportunity is February 2-6, 2015.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Photos from our local and international training spots

We are very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the word, but LSI is also thankful to have the opportunity to visit many other amazing cities in the world. Here are some of the best photos taken by David Chao as he and his team travels to teach the concepts of lean thinking...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making Training Stick

In today’s business world, making training ‘stick’ is extremely important.  How many times have we encountered organizations that, despite having the best intentions, fail to ensure that training of new behaviors is adequately reinforced and monitored to bring about an acceptable return on investment?

In today’s segment, we look at how one of Canada’s most iconic companies takes on the challenge of making training stick – how to enable training to lead to improved performance in their organization.

 Jeff Adams, Managing Director of Continuous Improvement, at Canadian Pacific (CP) recently answered questions about his company’s approach to ensuring that CP Lean Blackbelts properly utilize their new skills to execute continuous improvement in the workplace*.

LEAN SENSEI: What do you expect from a Lean Blackbelt once they have completed their training?

JA:   When we send someone through the Lean Sensei Blackbelt program, our intention is that the individual become a practitioner and coach in CP – that is their full-time role.  This role is a significant investment, both in time and resources.  And the cornerstone of that role as coach and facilitator is the Lean Sensei Blackbelt program. 

LEAN SENSEI:  What lean behaviours do you expect to see?

JA:  We need to see those lean principles into action. When the individual comes back to CP, it’s a different environment; it’s their regular, working environment.  Going to a training program is what we call an antecedent.  So, you’ve gone to a training program, you now understand the content, and we wouldn’t have sent you if you weren’t highly motivated to utilize and execute that content. Simply going to a training program, however, doesn’t guarantee that you will go on to use what you’ve learned and practice it properly and fully.  Training does not guarantee any change in behavior.

Training, like a traffic sign or job instruction, is what we call an “antecedent” in that it precedes the desired behavior.  If you look at the impact of antecedents on behavior, just because someone knows what to do, just because they are motivated to do it, does not necessarily mean that they will end up executing the behavior.

It’s been well proven that antecedents – in this case, training – only has about a 20% influence on whether they execute the behavior or not.  What actually determines behavior and repeating behavior are the consequences from performing that behavior – consequences influence 80% of behavior.

LEAN SENSEI: Can you tell us about CP’s approach to ensuring that a Lean Blackbelt actually continues to demonstrate the desired behaviors for continuous improvement after their training?

JA:  Many of us have been through programs, and have been sent for training in different companies and in different roles.  People are often sent for training but come back to an environment that doesn’t support that new content.

At CP we are very focused on reinforcing that new content and reinforcing those behaviors.  My Directors and I developed a behaviour and results assessment that we use to evaluate a Blackbelt’s performance and on-the-job compliance.  We are looking for demonstrated, sustained performance in these new behaviours and concepts back at CP.

When they demonstrate the behavior properly, we give them positive reinforcement by pin-pointing exactly what that behaviour was and why it’s important.  When they don’t, we provide constructive feedback by identifying the undesired behaviour with the person, pin-pointing the desired behaviour, how to meet the requirement, to get into a routine and internalize a sustained habit.  

A different way to describe it would be that LSI certifies the person has fully met the knowledge and skill requirements, then we at CP certify the person who is actually performing at that level back in their full-time role.  While LSI does a terrific job in Lean Blackbelt hands-on training, LSI can’t be present back at the day-to-day job to ensure those skills are utilized and continue to build – that’s my role.

LEAN SENSEI:  What happens once someone has consistently demonstrated the behaviours enough to be considered “certified” as a CP Lean Blackbelt?

JA:  First I must mention that it takes about six months for someone to successfully demonstrate that they have internalized and sustained the behaviours.  That does include executing and facilitating lean philosophy and tools, but it also includes specific behavioral psychology and communications training and with follow-up performance assessments as well.

At that point, we plan an event to recognize that accomplishment with their peers and senior management, and award them with two very important items.

The first item is a lovely professionally-framed certificate naming the person, describing the accomplishment and it’s meaning to the company.  Each certificate is personally signed by the President of Canadian Pacific Railway.  So there is a very definite message from top management about the importance of that accomplishment and the role as a CP Lean Blackbelt.

The second item we give them is a game figurine, unique to that individual.  It’s professionally mounted inside a display case with their name and “CP Lean Blackbelt” engraved, and is accompanied by a description of that figurine’s name and personal attributes (with translation from Japanese provided by LSI).

Jeff first discovered the figurines on a Lean Sensei Lean Benchmarking Japan trip at the famous “Tokyu Hands” department store.  As Jeff describes it:

JA:  I wanted something that would reinforce the experience of the Blackbelt training through Lean Sensei and, in particular, the experience of Japan.  I consider the shop floor level visit of Japan to be the single most important module in all of the training – it has a profound impact on the Blackbelt’s outlook and attitude.  So, for that reason, I wanted something that was representative of that experience.

What is unique about the figurines is the dozens of characters and that they are not available in North America.  By selecting a figurine with a certain character, we could somehow connect the character to the individual receiving that particular figurine.  And while the figurines have low tangible value, they have high emotional value – because you can’t get them in here and you can only earn one in this way.

LEAN SENSEI:  Are you the one who decides which character is matched with a certain Lean Blackbelt?

JA:  No, it’s not up to me – a small team of us sits down to determine which game character reminds us of the CP Lean Blackbelt candidate.  And the choice must be unique for that person – no two people are awarded the same figurine.

The chosen character is then sent to CP’s promotional products provider who makes a base and an acrylic cover, mounts the figurine inside along with an engraved plate with the person’s name and title of “CP Lean Blackbelt”.  

Then we plan a celebration to present both the framed certificate (signed by the President) and the special character.  

LEAN SENSEI:  How does CP go about celebrating the full certification of a CP Lean Blackbelt, and how important is that celebration?

JA:   The celebration is extremely important and means a great deal to the individual.  Each person can see the President has personally signed their certificate – that’s a clear statement of the value and respect of their work to the company.  Each person also knows their peers have selected their figurine – a clear statement of camaraderie with and respect of their team mates.

The purpose of a celebration is to share the story of that person’s accomplishment with their peer group and leaders who have all been through the same challenge.  Then we recognize that accomplishment permanently through the certificate itself and the game figurine.  Since we usually have our entire team together two or three times a year for business purposes, we use those times as opportunities to celebrate these accomplishments.

Jeff Adams’ department was one of the very first at CP to take on this rigorous approach to making training stick.

LEAN SENSEI:  How has the response been to this approach back at CP, in the wider organization?

JA:  It’s being adopted in other ways across the organization when it comes to training – or perhaps a better way to say it would be that it’s being adopted in what happens after training.  Training is only about 20% of the influence on successfully driving the behavior.  The consequences are 80% : If the behaviours are supported and sustained and  if they are reinforced, then people have begun to form new habits.

This article is from our quarterly newsletter. For more tips, click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Greenbelt is key for lean success

A three-module course that provides basic, intermediate and some advanced knowledge and experience in Lean.
The primary focus of the Greenbelt Certification Program is to teach, facilitate, lead and implement lean activities to create experienced lean practitioners.  Participants learn to work as a team player, motivator, and a true Lean champion within their organizations. Once completed, Greenbelt graduates have two primary tasks in their organizations – to help successfully deploy Lean techniques and to lead small-scale improvement projects in their areas.

Two different streams are offered.  Greenbelt for Operations is designed for people and organizations whose primary focus is on manufacturing, operations, distribution and supply chain work.  Greenbelt Service is designed for people and organizations in service, transactional and non-manufacturing industries.  The two streams share common themes and topics such as 5S and cycle time reduction.  They differ in their area of focus.  The operations program emphasizes line balancing, production time reduction and capacity expansion, while the service program emphasizes transactional waste reduction, value innovation and customer satisfaction improvement.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Greenbelt Operations Fall 2014 Vancouver Kicks Off!

Our first Greenbelt program of Fall 2014 has kicked off in Vancouver! The emphasis in Greenbelt for Operations is on improving processes that deliver direct value to the final customer or end user. The methodology that is taught in Greenbelt for Operations focuses on how to reduce cycle time, how to improve organizations effectiveness through 5S and how to improve the overall value to end customers.
Team building activities:

Will it survive the fall?

Group photo:
Stay tuned for more updates this week as the group is working hard to learn Lean principles and methodology, and will then take that knowledge and head into a real company for an action-packed 5S Kaizen Blitz.
Upcoming programs:
Greenbelt Service (Vancouver – Fall 2014)
Module 1: September 22nd – September 26th
Module 2: October 20th – October 24th
Module 3: November 17th – November 21st
Greenbelt Operations (Toronto – Fall 2014)
Module 1: September 29th – October 3rd
Module 2: October 27th – October 31st
Module 3: December 1st – December 5th
Greenbelt Operations (Calgary – Fall 2014)
Module 1: October 6th – October 10th
Module 2: November 3rd – November 7th
Module 3: December 1st – December 5th
Check our website at