The Lean Enterprise Institute and the Lean Enterprise Academy have recently created a Lean transformation model that I like a lot because it is an accurate representation of how Toyota developed the Toyota Production System concurrently with The Toyota Way over many years. A big thank you to John Shook.


The model is a good one for everyone to follow. But, being a professor and someone who likes to think and improve things, I thought it might help people to see the model with a greater level of detail – in part to make it more specific and actionable. The details that I have inserted are consistent with the history and evolution of Toyota, inclusive of management’s thinking and practice. I hope you find this to be a helpful compliment to the above image.


It is very important to recognize that the “Basic Way of Thinking” is the foundation for success. Too many business leaders lack this “Basic Way of Thinking,” and, as a result, are unable to emulate Toyota in even the most simplistic of ways. Their Lean efforts fall far short of expectations and usually do harm to people. Effective Lean transformations must begin with many big changes in the “Basic Way of Thinking” for entire senior leadership teams.

12 Responses to LEI/LEA Lean Transformation Model

  1. Mark Graban says:

    Great Kaizen of the existing model. I like your diagram and the specificity that it adds.

  2. Niranjana K R says:

    Excellent! Crisp!

  3. Troy Taylor says:

    Nice level of detail Bob, I love the breakdown. Would have preferred remove waste over reduce costs though.

    • Bob Emiliani says:

      Thank you. Originally, Toyota’s objective was cost reduction. That’s what they needed most in the late 1940s onward. The first Toyota internal document describing TPS was titled “Toyota Production System for Cost Reduction” (1973). But note their unique perspective: The pursuit of cost reduction would in turn lead to many other beneficial outcomes such as better quality, shorter lead-times, higher inventory turns, human resource development, etc. Most don’t understand this. Outside of Toyota, the many people who for many years have understood TPS narrowly and unintelligently as cost cutting experience more quality problems, lead-time problems, layoffs, outsourcing, etc. – especially where managers are driven to do stupid things like “maximize shareholder value.”

  4. Ian Clayton says:

    Hhmm – I’m still waiting for the emphasis on the service/customer experience and the successful outcomes they desire/expect.

    Where would this fit in the model? I’m hoping its inside the situational part – “what problem are we trying to address?”. This is where Outside-In thinking starts – in trying to walk in the customer shoes a bit…

    • Bob Emiliani says:

      It’s not explicitly shown in this model, but customer experience and satisfying user’s desires is embedded processes such as quality function deployment. QFD identifies customer wants and needs based on the Kano model.

      • Ian Clayton says:

        Thanks for the extra info Bob. But I’m still dismayed – that it is not more prominent – and that there seem few if any linkages to existing methods that help folks start, and end with customer satisfaction, not process quality/lean-ness/maturity as an end goal…

        • Bob Emiliani says:

          There is more with respect to UX than is apparent from the model (e.g. flow, “Respect for People, innovation, etc.). The focus of the model is enterprise transformation. What you are looking for is called “Lean Product and Process Development.”

          • Ian Clayton says:

            Bob – thanks again – I’m gonna leave it here – I still feel the model is infrastructure centric – techie biased. The language has to speak to its audience of course, but even your suggestion to check out ‘Lean Product & Process Development’ triggers my inside-out indicators.

            Is there anywhere in the model where they start by just sitting down with a customer and asking simple questions, or observing them during a normal day’s activities – whats Outside-In terms a ‘Service Safari” (observe customers in their natural habitat without influencing their behavior or actions)

          • Bob Emiliani says:

            Indeed, it an Inside-Out enterprise transformation model. Outside-In UX is part of Lean product and process development, established long ago: “go see,” obeya room, etc. Learn about the Toyota Ever-Better Expedition. This is the process “where they start by just sitting down with a customer and asking simple questions, or observing them during a normal day’s activities.”

  5. Chad Schreur says:

    I like your additions. All models have limitations, but this is a good one.
    Why do you have Quality Control / Quality Assurance / Respect Humanity at the top of your model? Would these not be part of the process or methods – in either increasing capability or process improvement. QC and QA help standardize the process, regardless of the situation or problem you are trying to solve. Respect for Humanity – seems to me it belong more in the ‘center’ – it is how you ideally go about both building capability and improving flow.

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