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Create a Learning Path

By Steve Kane Updated on September 22nd, 2022

Path ImageThis article is a continuation of the series based on best practices from the Gemba Academy community

Part 1: Don’t let perfect get in the way of good

Part 2: Create a Learning Path

Lean, for many organizations, involves transformation.  This kind of sweeping change can generate resistance that comes from uncertainty and confusion.  Many successful lean companies combat uncertainty and confusion by creating learning paths for everyone in the organization.

It’s not enough to tell people to work differently.  The organization has to learn how at the individual, team, department, and enterprise levels.  A clear learning path supported by goals and purpose help people and the organization move forward.

Learning Takes More Than Training

A good learning path requires participants to learn new concepts in an academic sense and also apply these concepts to gain experience.  Experience builds confidence.  Confidence builds momentum.

Gemba Academy Learning Paths

These are examples of learning paths for associate through leader levels of an organization.  These paths are intended to be progressive.  All members of an organization, regardless of position, would complete the Lean Associate path.  Team leaders, supervisors, knowledge workers, and continuous improvement specialists would move on to the Lean Champion path.  Managers and senior leaders would also complete the Lean Leader path.

Keep in mind anyone, regardless of position, should be encouraged to complete the Lean Leader path if the desire exists.

The purpose of the learning path is to improve the organization through the development of people.  All continuous improvement activities should be engaged with the spirit of solving problems and making improvements, rather than meeting a training requirement. 

Lean Associate might be the starting point for lean or six sigma practitioners.  One could start with Lean Associate then Green Belt, then Black Belt.  Another progression could be Lean Associate, Lean Champion, then Lean Leader. 

Here are some thoughts on how lean learning progression might look:

Lean Associate

Introductory Topics

    • Course completion
    • Devote time every day to continuous improvement or continuous improvement learning


Dealing with the 7 Deadly Wastes

Standard Work

    • Course completion
    • Create or improve standard work for three processes
    • Train team to the new or improved standard

Kaizen Way

Lean Champion

Lean Leader

  • Lean Champion Completion
  • Devote time every day to continuous improvement
  • Coach people every day in continuous improvement
  • Coach Lean Champion candidates through the Lean Champion curriculum
  • Leader Standard Work
    • Course completion
    • Develop leader standard work for self
    • Integrate gemba walks into leader standard work
    • Use leader standard work daily for 6 months
    • Continually refine (PDCA)
  • Culture of Kaizen
    • Course Completion
    • Identify three opportunities to apply this to your leader standard work
  • Gemba Academy Live – Steve Kane on Becoming a Lean Leader
  • Practical Problem Solving
    • Course Completion
    • PPS Action Guide
    • Use the 8-Step method to address a real problem
  • Kaizen Coach
    • Coach/mentor lean practitioner through 3 kaizen events
    • Coach/mentor lean practitioner through 3 A3 problems
  • Value Steam Mapping
    • Review Transforming Your Value Streams course
    • Coach Lean Champion candidate(s) through current state VS mapping process
    • Create a future state value stream map with the leadership team
    • Lead or sponsor 5 improvements to meet the future state
      • Can be combined with other requirements such as using the 8-step problem-solving method, coaching others through kaizen events or A3
    • Present current state, future state, and improvements to team and senior managers
  • Improve the learning paths


Can I change the paths?

Yes, the learning paths may certainly be changed to meet your needs.  In fact, you’re encouraged to customize leaning paths to best serve your customer and organization.

What happens when I complete the learning path?

The learning paths presented here are just the starting point to establishing a lean approach to organizational leadership and process management.  Continue to develop your lean expertise by improving daily.  The lean journey never ends.

What if I need clarification on some of the details of the learning paths?

Contact Gemba Academy’s customer success team 


  1. Tim G

    February 26, 2021 - 1:01 am

    Good road map for lean learning. Reflection for me is the Learning path is a lifestyle not a once off tick the box I’ve read the material so move on. Learn about it, practice it and it’s now the way we work.

    • Steve Kane

      February 26, 2021 - 7:53 am

      Good point, Tim. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Mark Boland

    March 26, 2021 - 9:50 am

    I agree with Tim on this, ‘its the way we work’ is key. The roadmap in this article is great and the lean champion role crucial to building capability and sustainability. Thanks Steve!

    • Steve Kane

      March 26, 2021 - 9:53 am

      Thank you, Mark!

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