Course Description

This course introduces the fundamental Lean Six Sigma principles that underlay modern continuous improvement approaches for industry, government and other organizations. Lean emerged from the Japanese automotive industry, particularly Toyota, and is focused on the creation of value through the relentless elimination of waste. Six Sigma is a quality system developed at Motorola which focuses on elimination of variation from all processes. The basic principles have been applied to a wide range of organizations and sectors to improve quality, productivity, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, time-to-market and financial performance.

The curriculum corresponds to 24 hours spread over 3 days. The 400 or so slides given to the students, video tapes of many of the lectures, and some of the active learning exercises are available on MIT OpenCourseWare. Fifty percent of the contact hours involve hands-on exercises and simulations, most of which are not available from OCW. An instructor's disk of the complete curriculum is available for purchase from the LAI Educational Network. Other course supporting materials, including the Lego® enterprise simulation, are also available for purchase.

The course was originally developed for an aerospace audience at the upper class undergraduate level. Over 6 years, it has been refined and delivered to over 1000 students from undergraduate through professional graduate degree programs, and to seasoned industry veterans from a diverse range of application domains. It assumes no prior knowledge of the subject material.

Biographies of the course instructors can be found below:

  • Allen Haggerty (PDF)
  • Hugh McManus (PDF)
  • Earll Murman (PDF)
  • Annalisa Weigel (PDF)


Day 1
1-1 Why am I here?
1-2 The start of your Lean journey
1-3 Enterprise leaders' talk
1-4 Lean thinking
1-5 Lean office or home video
1-6 Value Stream Mapping (VSM) fundamentals
1-7 Plant tour and debrief
Day 2
2-1 Lean enterprise simulation, segment I
2-2 Lean supply chain basics
2-3 Lean enterprise simulation, segment II – Lean thinking refresh and change planning
2-4 Lean engineering basics
2-5 Lean enterprise simulation, segment III – refresh and change planning
2-6 Accounts payable I
Case study homework
Day 3
3-1 Accounts payable II: Value Stream Analysis (VSA)
3-2 Variability simulation
3-3 Quality tools and topics
3-4 Guest talk on Lean engineering or office application
3-5 People: the heart of Lean
3-6 Implementing Lean