Introduction to Lean Thinking 

Implementing lean operations takes more than just using a particular set of tools. While tools are helpful, they are designed to produce specific results, so it’s important to use the right tool for every task. Getting this right depends on accurately defining what you’re trying to fix and applying lean process improvement to the problem.


This module introduces the four rules and five principles of lean thinking, and how these guide the behaviors and actions displayed by lean organizations.

Number of Modules: 1  / Approximate run time: 5 minutes

The Four Lean Rules

A rule is a guideline that directs behavior, such as the speed limit on public roads. The four foundational rules of lean operations apply to every industry, department, process, or change, and are the bedrock of continuous improvement. These rules include clearly specifying the activities involved in a task, identifying all the connections to customers or suppliers, defining the pathway of the task, and continuously working to improve it.

The Five Lean Principles

Working in a lean organization takes more than just rules, however. Principles lead people to think in new ways, adopt new policies, and change their behavior at a deeper level. While lean rules are the foundation of a company’s efforts, lean principles help to guide the actions of the people. 

From shaping the way people observe actions to creating a common approach to problems, these principles serve as the backbone for lean operations.

Why We Need Both Rules and Principles

When you adopt lean principles, you start thinking in new ways. This causes you to change your behaviors, which results in driving new outcomes. Discover how this works in practice and the benefits to an organization of putting lean rules and principles in place.

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