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Descriptor: Level 3 – Strategic



Level 3 focuses on advanced lean knowledge and the strategic and leadership competencies required for lean leadership at a senior level.

Those with LCS Level 3 capability should be able to design lean strategies for an organisation (or a significant business unit) and demonstrate appropriate lean leadership qualities and practices.

At Level 3 the emphasis is on implementation experience at a strategic or transformational level. Note that the difference between 3a and 3b is to do with scale, level of responsibility and scope of experience.

A Level 3 practitioner should have:

  • High-level knowledge and mature understanding of lean philosophy, techniques and approaches and associated schools of thought.
  • Knowledge of the strategic and management dimensions of lean implementation.
  • Ability to implement and manage a lean strategy at an organisation or extended enterprise level.
  • Wide implementation experience in several organisational contexts over a period of at least 10 years.
  • Advanced and widely practised leadership and change management competencies

Level 3a & Level 3b

There are two levels within LCS Strategic:

Level 3a: Strategic Enterprise

Level 3b: Strategic Supply Chain

Routes to the Qualification

Level 3 certification is gained via the Approved Prior Learning & Experience (APLE) route and not from undertaking a conventional training course with assessments (as with LCS Levels 1 and 2). 

The APLE route for Level 3 certification is the Level 3 Programme, through which candidates submit evidence of their capability, guided by a Level 3 Advisor. This evidence is gathered from a career resume, three case studies and an assignment. The process ends with a presentation to an LCS expert panel.

Candidates with a lean related master’s degree are eligible for exemptions, depending on the precise course undertaken.

A Level 3 Programme can be completed directly with the LCS organisation or through a Level 3 accredited consultancy.

Leadership Competencies

Levels 2 and 3 are primarily focused on being an effective lean leader and the overarching competencies are as follows:

  1. The ability to think in terms of processes, value streams and systems; knowing how to lead systems.
  2. The ability to problem solve, understand variability and waste.
  3. Understanding how we learn, develop and improve; leading learning & improvement.
  4. Understanding the behaviour of people.
  5. Giving vision, focus and direction to the organisation.

(Adapted from Peter Scholtes’ list in The Leaders Handbook, 1998)

Prerequisites for Level 3

The following can be used as a guide when selecting participants for a Level 3 Programme:

Level 3a

  • Qualifications/knowledge: Degree, LCS Level 2b or equivalent
  • Typical experience:
    • Approximately ten years improvement experience at a leadership level, involved in several strategically aligned projects.
    • Gained either through in house improvement or consultancy activity.
    • Undertaken roles with supervisory aspects.
    • Involvement as a senior manager in strategically aligned projects.

Level 3b

  • Qualifications/knowledge: Degree, LCS Level 2b or equivalent
  • Typical experience:
    • At least ten years improvement experience at a leadership level, involved in multiple, diverse, strategically aligned projects.
    • Gained either through in house improvement or consultancy activity.
    • Has undertaken CI senior management roles in several organisations, divisions, or departments.
    • Has undertaken improvement activity encompassing cross-functional teams, supply chains or value streams.

Level 3 Knowledge

The Level 3 practitioner shall know and understand:

  • Strategy development and policy deployment techniques.
  • Design and deployment of effective and relevant performance measures.
  • Leadership skills for effective lean transformation (eg change management, communication, coaching, mentoring, motivating, etc).
  • Supply chain management.
  • Advanced lean systems knowledge and techniques.
  • Sustainable change and continuous improvement.
  • Project direction, implementation and control.
  • Complementary philosophies, approaches and thinkers.

Level 3 Practice

The Level 3 practitioner shall be able to:

  • Implement at significant scales and in a range of business environments.
  • Lead an organisation’s lean transformation.
  • Coach and mentor colleagues and practitioners.
  • Create sustainable lean strategies and implementation plans, aligned to organisational strategy.
  • Apply lean in a range of core business processes (eg order fulfilment, new product development, sales acquisition, supply chain, etc).
  • Implement and deploy a lean strategy in an organisation to achieve quality/cost/delivery benefits.
  • Devise and apply effective and relevant value stream and supply chain performance measures.