The Seven Levels of Competency
The LCS qualifications framework has seven competency levels, ranging from Level 1a to Level 3b.
They are grouped into three categories: 1) Fundamental, 2) Technical and 3) Strategic. The levels cover a broad range of competency, from awareness of core principles of lean, right up to strategic lean leadership.
An accredited organisation can initially accredit to one or several levels and can add levels to its accreditation at any point in its two year licence period. Accredited courses need to be aligned to a particular level, which allows certificates to be issued to those who successfully complete the course assessment.
Each Level has a Descriptor, which states what knowledge and practical capability an individual should possess. The key focus of each descriptor is shown below – click Learn more on each level to view it in detail and to download a descriptor PDF.
Level 1: Fundamental
Level 1a: Lean Awareness Awareness and a basic understanding of lean thinking principles and underlying continuous improvement concepts and an ability to understand and articulate fundamental lean ideas.
Level 1b – Diagnosis & Analysis Knowledge of lean diagnostic, analytical and planning techniques and the ability to use them in the workplace to understand customer/stakeholder value, the current state, solve problems and propose future states.
Level 1c: Improvement & Implementation This level focuses on knowledge, understanding and application of lean improvement and implementation techniques. Those at LCS 1c should be able to actively participate in improvement activities in the workplace.
Level 2: Technical
Level 2a: Implementation & DesignThis level focuses on the advanced lean knowledge and leadership competencies required for lean management. Those with LCS 2a should be able to design and implement programmes, play a leading role in managing departmental or cross functional teams, with some support and guidance.
Level 2b: Implementation & LeadershipThis level focuses on the advanced lean knowledge and leadership competencies required for lean management. Those with LCS 2b should be able to design and implement programmes, play a leading role in managing inter-business, departmental or cross functional teams, with high levels of responsibility and requiring minimal support and guidance.
Level 3: Strategic
Level 3a: Strategic EnterpriseThis level focuses on advanced lean knowledge and the strategic and leadership competencies required for lean leadership at a senior level. Those with LCS 3a should be able to design lean strategies for an organisation (or a significant business unit) and demonstrate appropriate lean leadership qualities and practices.
Level 3b: Strategic Supply ChainThis level focuses on advanced lean knowledge and the strategic and leadership competencies required for lean leadership at a senior level. Those with LCS 3a should be able to design lean strategies for an organisation (or a significant business unit) and demonstrate appropriate lean leadership qualities and practices.
Key Points about the Framework
- Implicit in the framework design is that competency is accumulative for Levels 1 and 2, so a practitioner should attain Level 1a before moving on to Level 1b and so on.
Competency = knowledge x application
- Competency has knowing and practicing dimensions, so the assessment of an accredited course has to cover both (apart from Level 1a)
- The importance of the practical dimension of competency increases as the levels progress.
- Each level has a descriptor, which states the knowledge and practical capability an individual should possess.
- A course aligned to a level should therefore closely reference its descriptor, with its learning and practical outcomes clearly aligned.
- The key task of an accredited course is to deliver the appropriate knowledge and practical capability outcomes for learners.
- The division between levels is not strict and some topics and tools can fit into more than one level.
- The framework references the LCS accreditation philosophy, which is informed by an eclectic and holistic interpretation of lean thinking (see below).
The level descriptors are central to the LCS framework, since they state what knowledge and practical capability an individual should possess. Key features of the descriptors:
- Both lean knowledge and application requirements are specified.
- They are outcomes based, not focused on specific tools.
- They state the knowledge competence expected of an individual at a particular level, expressed as what an individual should be able to understand, describe, know, etc.
- They state the practical competence expected of an individual at a particular level, expressed as what an individual should be able to, apply, implement, analyse, etc.
- They provide guidance on the indicative contents of a course aligned to the level.
- They state the prerequisites required. A prerequisite is the specific level(s) that must be completed before you can move to the next level.
- Each Descriptor has a number of sub-levels, indicating specific themes or topics encompassed by the level.
Download a PDF of the LCS level descriptors
“The Accreditation Disruptor”
The LCS approach differs significantly from traditional accreditation approaches in several ways. Its interpretation and definition of Lean Thinking, based on that developed and refined at the Lean Enterprise Research Centre, is core to this difference.
- It has an open source perspective to lean, which characterises it as dynamic and constantly evolving, driven by the market and practitioners. There is no single ‘book of knowledge’ that defines lean thinking, but a broad, ever changing body of knowledge.
- There are several generic, high level principles underlying lean thinking, but many different methods, tools, techniques and models available to be used, all of which can align to these core principles.
- Organisations should use a contingent approach to lean implementation: in other words, the method developed will depend on their specific context and the circumstances they face. This means there is no right or wrong way to design a system or deliver training.
An outcomes based approach
The LCS accreditation model is outcomes based, which means the job of the training programme is to deliver a specific capability outcome for an individual. The LCS is non-prescriptive and does not specify how the outcome should be achieved, nor the specific syllabus to be used. This also means that the LCS devolves responsibility for defining quality to the accredited organisation and empowers it to take responsibility for managing it and continually improving.
Flexible & Adaptable Model
The LCS offers a flexible and adaptable model that can be applied in all types of organisations, regardless of sector or scale. Accreditation does not require 100% alignment of courses with the topics in a given level, as it aims to ensure that the accredited organisation’s courses remain highly relevant to its needs.
It also accommodates the Learning Organisation – one that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself.
How LCS compares with Belts
Coloured belts are often used as descriptors for the different levels in some continuous improvement qualification systems, such as in Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma.
While there is no universal standard definition for each of the belts, accredited organisations must adhere to the guidance in the list in the linked page below if they want to include a belt colour after the LCS level number on their LCS personal certificates:
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