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Descriptor: Level 1a – Lean Awareness


Individuals at Level 1a should have an awareness and a basic understanding of lean thinking principles and underlying continuous improvement concepts and an ability to understand and articulate fundamental lean ideas.

Prerequisites for Level 1a

There are no prerequisites required for Level 1a

Level focus

On the underlying principles of lean thinking, its development and antecedents

Course knowledge outcomes

  • A1: Origins and evolution of lean thinking and continuous improvement
  • A2: Underpinning and related concepts and approaches
  • A3: Key lean/CI principles and frameworks
  • A4: Core elements of lean and CI
  • A5: Awareness of the human and strategic dimensions of lean thinking

Course practice outcomes

There are no practice outcomes required for Level 1a.

Indicative Topics

A course aligned to Level 1a will typically include several of the topics listed under each subject area below:

Origins & evolution, key contributors

  • Ford, Taylor, Deming, Training Within Industry (TWI), Toyota-TPS (Ohno), Shingo, Womack & Jones.

Underpinning and related concepts and approaches

  • Scientific thinking and the ‘scientific method’; systems thinking, process thinking, continuous improvement, Kata, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints,

Key principles & frameworks

  • W&J’s Five Lean Principles; Seddon’s CHECK methodology; PDCA; DMAIC (& variants); ToC

Core elements

  • Value, waste, flow, pull; value adding/non-value adding; the value stream; muri (overburden) and mura (unevenness); demand understanding – value and failure demand;

Human and strategic dimensions

  • Human dimensions and the enabling factors for sustainability and culture change; engagement, leadership, strategic alignment.


A course or programme designed to deliver Level 1a outcomes can be organised in several ways and there is no prescribed format. It will typically use a combination of:

  • Face to face, taught in groups – in modules or blocks of hours/days.
  • Digital delivery and eLearning.
  • Blended learning

The total learning time guidance for a L1a course is between 3 and 6 hours. This will vary depending on the delivery methods used. For example face to face teaching with interactions and simulations will take longer, while course digitally delivered will be shorter. Note that the total learning time could include face-to-face teaching, web based learning, post course activities, and assessments.

Level Assessment

The assessment shall demonstrate that the outcomes have been achieved.


An assessment that demonstrates the learner can remember and understand L1a Lean Awareness, for example, through a multiple choice test or essay exam.

Practical Application

There is no requirement for practical application to be assessed at Level 1a