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Lean Thinking: Applying the Principles of the Toyota Production System to any Business

Learn to create more value for your customers with less effort and fewer resources.

Pace to market, follow demand, add value, zero defects


March 17 - May 12

There is no class on March 31.

Time: 6 - 8 p.m.
Location: University of Montana campus
James E. Todd Building
Hours of Instruction: 16
Course Fee: $400
Registration: Registration is closed
Course Policies



A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it, the ultimate goal being to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect process that has no waste.  To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of an organization to optimizing value at every stage of the process.

The goal of Lean Thinking is to teach students to maximize customer value and minimize waste.

Course Description:

Lean Thinking provides you with a practical understanding of Lean / Six Sigma (Toyota Production System) methods in a business setting for any purpose.  The course will help you develop continuous improvement skills and provide you with the tools required to improve processes and systems including identification and elimination of waste, defining value, measurement methods, and work analysis. 

The course covers the basic concepts, principles and applications of Lean Methodology for Continuous Improvement.  Based on the principles of the Toyota Manufacturing system, course participants will learn foundational principles and practical application in any process related work situation.  The course will include lecture, group discussion, hands-on usage of Lean Tools and assignments that demonstrate how Lean principles can be applied in our everyday lives. View the course outline for a complete list of covered subjects.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Observation skills
  • Measurement
  • Process mapping
  • Work flow analysis
  • Identification and elimination of waste
  • Level production techniques
  • Mistake-proofing
  • Just-in-time delivery and production
  • The effects of the use of Lean methodologies on people and management

Topics to be covered:

  • Foundational concepts of the Toyota Production System
  • Value Added vs Non-Value Added Work
  • Identification and Elimination of Waste
  • Organization Skills (5S)
  • Visual Controls in Process Management
  • Mistake Proofing / Root Cause Analysis
  • Work flow / Continuous Flow
  • Standard Operations
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Set up Reduction
  • Level Production vs Batch Production

Recommended Readings:

The book, The Toyota Production System, by Taiichi Ohno, CRC Press, 1988, Taylor and Francis Group is recommended and can be purchased online from

Other readings will be provided in class.

Who will benefit from this course?

A popular misconception is that Lean philosophy is suited only for manufacturing. Not true. Lean applies to every business and in every process. It is a way of thinking and acting that can create improvements in any organization.

Instructor LarryAbout the Instructor:

Larry Fagerhaug has spent more than 30 years learning and practicing personal and organizational leadership in all areas inside large companies, as well as local community business.

As a business leader, he has served in Fortune 500 companies in the area of Sales, Management, Training, Leadership Development and Organization Development.  He has learned the principles of quality, Lean/Six Sigma and process improvement and has led teams and large organizations to understand leadership principles.  He has also applied these same skills in the nonprofit arena. 

Larry has a passion for engaging organizations, groups or individuals in working toward a better understanding of leadership and organization effectiveness.

  • School of Extended & Lifelong Learning
  • The University of Montana
  • 32 Campus Drive
  • Missoula, MT  59812
  • Phone: (406) 243-2900
  • Fax: (406) 243-2047
  • Email: