Lean Secrets: 6 Simple Steps That Cut Business Costs
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Lean Secrets: 6 Simple Steps That Cut Business Costs

Learn how to save 1000s in your business with this proven method of 6 steps. Practical, simple and no experience needed!
4.6 (9 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
798 students enrolled
Created by Linda Coussement
Last updated 7/2014
Current price: $10 Original price: $60 Discount: 83% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Understand the basics of Lean and Lean Improvement
  • Save lots of money in your own business
  • Improve the quality of your business and your product
  • All the knowledge and skills you need to do this on your own
View Curriculum
  • I make use of basic MS Office documents so make sure you're able to open and edit them.
  • You need your own improvement project; no matter how simple the process you're improving, this practice is essential in learning how to continuously improve!
  • Be willing to spend some time on this! Watching the videos will only cost you 1,5 hours but actually doing the work and thus getting the most out of it will require an investment in time! (How much depends on your project)



NEW! Now includes the Business Improvement Blueprint and 2 additional lectures - to help you figure out where to start.

Updated November 6, 2015



  • Over 750 very happy students
  • No other tools, coaching or anything else is required
  • Very positive reviews from both my Udemy students and the people I've trained 'in real life'
  • Full, free lifetime access
  • All future extra lectures and bonus upgrades are always included for free
  • Unconditional Udemy 30 day money-back guarantee - that's my personal promise of your success!



  • The leading method for saving millions in big corporates like GE.
  • Responsible for saving >$25M in 1 year at a corporate I used to work for.
  • Responsible for saving crucial cash in various SME's and Startups I worked in.
  • Proven and tested for more than 60 years now in 1000s of companies of all types and sizes.

I've used this technique countless times. And no matter the type of business, the type of people or even the size; this always works!

What you'll learn:

  • Save time and money by improving a process or problem
  • Make sure you spend your time on improving the right things
  • Make sure the improvements you make stick
  • Get some actual and measurable results of your efforts

The course consists of 14 videos for you to watch and lots of additional resources like handy links and templates. You’ll walk out of the class with hands-on results!

Simply click the 'take this course' button on the top right right now.

Because, the more you delay, the more it is costing you...

Linda Coussement

Who is the target audience?
  • Anyone who feels like they could be saving money in their business operations
  • Anyone looking for a more structured approach to improving their business
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about Lean and apply this in real life
  • Your field of expertise of area of life or business does not matter at all! Getting a good meal on the table is as much a process that can be improved as anything else!
Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed
Curriculum For This Course
14 Lectures
Introduction to the Basics
3 Lectures 23:18

Big welcome to everyone!

In this video I shortly introduce myself and my background and experience with Lean and continuous improvement. I moved from being frustrated about inefficiencies to making it my job of improving them!

Also a short introduction of this class: 5 sessions with 12 videos, lots of materials and most importantly: your own improvement project. You could be improving a process in your business but also your grocery shopping routine; whatever it is make sure you have a process ready to practice with.

I'll be here on the discussion boards to answer all of your questions and continuously improve this class based on your feedback so let me know when there is something I can do for you!

Check out the example project that I have added as a .pdf as you will be using this as a reference throughout the class.

Tip: download the Business Improvement Blueprint and watch the 2 accompanying videos first! It will help you get a good overview of all the processes in your business and will guide you through the selection of the one that is most important to focus on right now!

Welcome everyone!

A general introduction just to let you understand what Lean is all about.

We start with the definition of Lean:

With Lean you (attempt to) cut out everything that does not add value to the customer. In other words, all wasteful steps that a customer is not willing to pay for should be eliminated.

I will explain who your customers are, what 'value adding' exactly means and talk more about the wastes.

These wastes are threefold:

  1. Waste due to variation or unevenness (mura)
  2. Waste due to overburdening machines or people (muri)
  3. Actual waste in the process (muda) or the 8 Lean wastes.

The 8 wastes in the process are what most organisations focus on, as they are the easiest to spot and improve on.

The 8 Lean Wastes

These 8 wastes are a perfect constant reminder when looking for improvement opportunities in your business and processes. That is the way I use them in my work. They are also great to show your colleagues when you explain them what you are doing when you're working on your improvement project.

Be careful though not to get too stuck on them: it's no use spending lots of time and resources on perfecting 1 of the wastes when there is still much to improve on the others!

Check out Panview.nl for a really elaborate description of the wastes and other Lean concepts.

Getting rid of the wastes is of course the logical next step and exactly what we'll be doing in this course! This image sums it up quite nicely:

Removing wastes

I have put a powerpoint document in the supplementary material with both these images for you to use whilst explaining your project to your colleagues.

Be sure to check out the YouTube links I've added for some funny examples!

Also take a look at my website as I write regular blogs on Lean, project management, change management and other related and useful content.

Preview 07:23

The Continuous Improvement Cycle

The Continuous Improvement Cycle:

Here’s a quick insight into the 6 steps of the continuous improvement cycle:

Define: this is where you define the problem and process you’re improving. This is a really important step and one that is often rushed through so be careful to not do that!

Measure: here we’ll dig deep into the actual process and figure out what is really wrong with it.

Analyse: this phase is all about the root cause! In the measure phase we’ve found the problems in the process and here we’ll try and figure out what is causing them.

Generate: Here, we take the root cause and find out what potential solutions go with them. The solutions will then be categorized according to budget, ease and other constraints until we have the final solution or solutions that will be used.

Implement: now we’re getting to the ‘doing’ part. This phase is the one where you’ll need to step up as a strict project manager and make sure all the actions are assigned to someone, have deadlines and that these are indeed made!

Control: This takes the implement phase even further; now we’re making sure that the improvements stick for the long term. Usually you keep on measuring the results to see if it shows a fall-back but also it implies implementing some tricks like standard operating procedures, or assigning clear responsibilities to assure this.

Your own improvement project:

Please think about what process you would like to improve during this class. With process I mean any type of repetitive sequence of steps that have elements, such as time and products, coming in to get to a clear outcome such as a product or service.

Consider the following:

  • Try not to boil the ocean with your project but choose something with a limited scope
  • You can choose whatever you like as long as it is a process where you feel like you are wasting something (time, money, talent, transport etc.)
  • Try to choose something that is measurable somehow. Trying to increase a level of happiness is possible but is pretty hard to quantify


  • Your sales/invoice/logistics/hiring/etc. process
  • Your grocery shopping route
  • The way you produce/create something
  • Cleaning the house
  • Etc.

Tip: download the Business Improvement Blueprint and watch the 2 accompanying videos first! It will help you get a good overview of all the processes in your business and will guide you through the selection of the one that is most important to focus on right now!

I will also use a fictional case as an example along the way. You can find this next to the very first video!

You will also find a pdf here with the main questions to each phase of the cycle and the overview of the wastes. This might come in handy when you want to introduce Lean and you project to your surroundings.

Preview 09:22
The Define Phase
2 Lectures 18:48

The Problem and Goal Statement

The Define phase is all about the ‘think before you start running’. This is where you figure out what it is that you’re exploring, what the actual problem is and of course what your goal is.

A problem statement, in this case, consists of 1 or 2 sentences and clearly describes the problem and it’s consequences.

A good problem statement is:

- written as a fact and not as a question

- specific as it includes relevant data and facts

- does not lead to causes or solutions

An example:

“The baking process at Cookie Monster Inc. takes up so much time that we have difficulty getting all the requested cookies to our customers and we have no more time for sales and marketing”

The goal statement, is a sentence or 2 in which you describe what result you will have reached by the end of the project.

Sometimes a goal statement is simply the opposite of you problem statement but be sure to take some time to think this over as it is not always the case!

A good goal statement is at least SMART.

This means that it is:

- Specific

- Measurable

- Acceptable

- Realistic

- Timebound

In the Cookie Monster example the initial goal statement is to ‘shorten the baking process so that we save a total of 1000 minutes a day. This way we can easily meet customer requests and we have time for sales and marketing’

Your Improvement Project

Try and define the problem an goal statement for your project and perhaps share it on the discussion board or with a select few other colleagues or students. Usually it helps when different people take a look at it as they are not necessarily caught up in the content and the desired outcome.

Preview 07:47

The Project Charter

In this video I go over all the elements in the project charter. Download it from the supplementary materials and keep it next to you as a reference!

  • Project name and project manager: that's you!
  • Problem and Goal statement: exactly like we discussed in the previous video

  • Scope: this is where you define what is, and probably more important, what is not part of your project. If you’re for example improving a sales process in a larger organisation you might want to scope it to ‘the inbound sales process starting from a lead coming in to a signed contract’. And you could mention that all outbound or other types of salesprocesses are excluded.

  • Business case: this is the one thing every manager understands and loves; as long as the business case is good, you’re good to go to spend time and resources on it. Just to be clear: a business case is simply a calculation of the benefits that will come from doing this improvement, usually against the resources that need to go in the project.

  • Stakeholders are those people that are somehow involved in the process that you’re improving or in the result of that improvement. They can therefor vary from your end-customers, your direct colleagues, your manager, your managers manager etc. Everybody who has a stake in what you’re doing is involved and needs to be recognised as such.

  • Risks: Preparing for that what might go wrong is what risk management is all about. You’ll need to take some time and think what might hinder the success of your project. This might be other projects working in the same area, budget restraints, vital stakeholders being against the change or simply not having any time to do the project.

  • The milestoneplanning in your projectcharter is a simple overview of when your main phases will be done. This will give you and your colleagues a structure to work with.

    There are 4 questions that sum up the Define phase:

  • What is the problem (in 1 sentence)?
  • What are the goals (SMART)?
  • What is the context
  • Who are involved?
  • What are barriers for success?

Your Improvement Project:

Fill in the project charter for your project by using the template attached.

Remember the following:

  • Do not rush this phase!
  • Remember the charter is an organic sheet: if you do not have the data right now make sure you now fill in the basics and come back later to refine
  • Use the template and Cookie Monster Inc. example for guidelines on filling in the charter
  • Do this together with your team if you have one
  • This is the one page you will take around with you constantly and is the one that will 'sell' your project to stakeholders.
  • From reading just this one page a manager should for example be willing to give you all the required time and resources to make this happen. Of course, only given the business case is interesting enough.
The Define Phase: the Project Charter
The Measure and Analyse Phases
2 Lectures 18:17

This video is all about the how and what of the Measure phase!

The goal of this phase is to be able to look back at your problem statement and be able to quantify it; you know what the problem costs you and where these costs are made in the process.

There are a few steps in this phase:

  1. Draw up the high-level process using the input you have gathered from previous exercises or talking to people. Do not make this a highly elaborate exercise though; it serves mainly as a basis from which you can work and to give you an initial clue of what is going on.
  2. Invite the main people who work within the process to a workshop. Make sure you take enough time for them to clear their calendars for this or even ask them upfront, but make sure they are there. Be careful with inviting managers though; often people feel hindered in saying what they actually want to say with their manager there!
  3. In the workshop, explain the goal of that session and go over the problem and goal statement with the group. If necessary, be sure to also explain the improvement process to them using the documents provided in the supplementary materials.
  4. Validate the process with the group. Prepare the process by using post-its or printouts in A5 size on a flipchart or brown paper beforehand and then ask the group to add, substract and shuffle as much as necessary until everybody agrees that this is indeed the process as it is right now.

    Example high-level process from the Cookie Monster Inc. example.

  5. Find out what problems are occurring in the process. Again use the post-it notes and let people stick them on the brown paper where they belong > no restrictions in what people can write! If it will help the process use the picture of the 7 wastes for this.
  6. Specifying the problems. Usually there is much overlap and usually people want to talk about it so make sure you build in that room but also help them become very concrete and precise. You go over all the post-its, remove the doubles and rewrite the vague ones.
  7. Quantify the problems. How often do they happen? How long does this take? How much money does it cost? The questions often vary per type of problem but get a good feel of the actual pain and make it measurable so your improvement becomes really clear as well! Sometimes this can't be done in the workshop and you will need to go back some other time when you've measured it all!

To conclude this video, the questions that need to be answered:

  • What does the process look like?
  • Do all the process steps add value to the customer?
  • What are the problems in the process?

Whether you are improving a complex process in a multinational organization or the process of organizing your quarterly bakesale; the steps are the same, just tone it down or spruce it up where it needs to to best fit your environment and the people you work with!

Your Improvement Project:
Measure your problem by taking the next steps (preferably together with all the involved people):

- Write down the different process steps (I like to use post-its for this excercise)
- Run through all the steps and question whether they add value to the customer or are in another way essential for the process. Take into account the different type of wastes
- Define the problems (red flags) in the process
- Look at each flag individually and assess:
- How often it happens
- How much extra time, money etc. it costs
- In how far it impacts customer value
- Refine your project charter and business case

The Measure Phase

The Analyse Phase

This video explains you how to find the root causes for the problems you've found in the Measure phase. I use 2 tools for this:

  • 5 Why Method
    Really, you just pretend that you’re 5 years old and have no clue of what’s going on or how things came about that way.

    Take the top 3 of 5 problems that you’ve defined to be the most costly, be it in time, money, customer satisfaction or any other important metric, and take another brown paper or whiteboard or flipchart, or whatever it is that you are using.

    Per problem you just keep asking why until the root cause is there! Again make sure you get some real answers and not get stuck at answers like ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ or something.

    5 Why example

    This example shows how asking 4 times 'why' leads you to a whole new insights and perspectives.

  • Root Cause Diagram
    My favourite tool and best explained with an example

    Root Cause Diagram example

    Obviously not all root causes are found in exactly 5 questions, some take 3, others 8 before you get to the point.

    To conclude this phase, the main questions that will have to be answered:

  • What is causing the problem(s)?
  • What is the root cause to the problem(s)?
  • What root causes do we now want to focus on considering size and impact?

  • Your Improvement Project:

    Analyse your process by taking the following steps:

    • Prioritise your 'red flags' from the measure phase according to time and impact
    • Start asking 'Why'! (also check out the example I added and the root cause diagram in the Cookie Monster Inc project)

    Sometimes this is really straightforward, sometimes it can get quite complex.

    For the complex problems make a cause and effect diagram (use post-its):

    • Start with the problem
    • Ask 'why' this problem is happening
    • Write down the reasons on separate post-its
    • Again ask why for each reason and write the answers down on separate post-its
    • Keep repeating until you get to the root cause

    Update your project charter when necessary!

Analyse your process by taking the following steps:

  • Prioritise your 'red flags' from the measure phase according to time and impact
  • Start asking 'Why'! (also check out the example I added and the root cause diagram in the Cookie Monster Inc project)

Sometimes this is really straightforward, sometimes it can get quite complex.

For the complex problems make a cause and effect diagram (use post-its):

  • Start with the problem
  • Ask 'why' this problem is happening
  • Write down the reasons on separate post-its
  • Again ask why for each reason and write the answers down on separate post-its
  • Keep repeating until you get to the root cause

Update your project charter when necessary!

The Analyse Phase
The Generate, Implement and Control Phases
3 Lectures 19:50

This is where the fun begins! Here I talk about how to get your root causes translated to solutions and the best way to learn how to do this is by doing it!

Your Improvement Project

Gather your prioritised root causes and take your team to brainstorm on potential solutions. Use the following points as guidelines:

  • Bring in the whole team.
  • Use post-its, a flipboard or other low-tech means; these will not distract you from the creative flow
  • Make sure 1 person in in charge of the process. This person ensures asks critical questions and aims to push the creativity further.
  • In brainstorming there are usually more great ideas to be found after the initial exhileration has ebbed out; make sure you do not stop too soon.
  • Try not to give feedback on 'crazy' ideas; in this phase everything is possible and welcome
  • Challenge yourself by trying to limit the options. For example: only solutions that are free or cost a maximum of 2 hours to implement etc.

Take all your ideas and then prioritise them in the matrix in the attachment. Whatever comes up as high impact and low effort is what you do. Again some guidelines:

  • Make sure to define what high and low means; this could be time, money, quality, customer experience etc. Look back at your goal statement for this.
  • Solutions with a high impact that are still realistic in time and money should be put on the long-term improvement plan.
  • When solutions are a no-brainer and hardly cost you anything don't fuss about them too much and just do them.
The Generate Phase

The Implement Phase

You take your solutions and you translate them into actions which you then make happen together with the team!

There are a pitfalls you want to stay clear from though:

  1. The actions are vague.
    More often than not, actions get forgotten or sidetracked in the hustle and bustle of daily operations and having to come back to them when they’re only described in a vague way does not help in effectively closing them.

  2. There is no action owner defined.
    Not assigning an owner to an action is setting you up for trouble big time because no way is that action ever going to be done by anyone else but yourself this way.

  3. The action owner does not know or understand the action.
    Now this seems rather straightforward but it happens a lot! People just nod when you ask if you understand or perhaps you’ve assigned the action to someone who was not there and forgotten to tell them properly…either way; the action is not going to happen!

  4. The date is not set, set too ambitious or way too far back.
    When you don’t set a date people will not feel any pressure to do anything and you have no foot to stand on when you next ask them whether this action can be closed of or not. Same thing happens when you set a date too far away in the future…this means that the pressure is of and an action can be forgotten easily because of all the other things that need to be done.

    When the action is set too ambitious things on the other hand, can get frustrating; people do not like not being able to deliver on what they promised and it’s no fun to tell someone off or feel like you have to because a deadline has not been met.

  5. Actions are not managed.
    Now this is your job! Handing out things to do and letting go from there is unfortunately not the way to get things done. Managing your actionlist does not simply mean running after people and asking them whether or not they’ve done stuff already. You need to make sure that these things get done so you need to make sure that nothing is in the way of the people doing them.

    Remember though when things get difficult, people are not against working or against changing; 90% of the time it is the circumstances that create this tensions and it is these that you need to manage.

    The most important questions for this phase:

  • Who is responsible for the final result?
  • Who performs what actions when?
  • Do these people know that and do they have the time and skills?
  • What else is required to make this change successful?

Your Improvement Project

This is where you actually do the work.

You can use the attached template as an actionlist but of course you just need to make sure you use whatever works best in your situation.

The Implement Phase

The Control Phase

This is where you check whether you goal statement has indeed come true and the problem statement no longer exists.

There are at least 3 things that need to be done or in place to make sure something sticks and they come in all sorts of different shapes and forms:

  1. Communication.
    You’ll need to figure out what the best way of communicating is and how to do this and you need to make it happen properly taking into account all your defined stakeholders.

  2. Standard operating procedures.
    This is all about making the change part of your daily business. One of the ways to do so is by creating standard operating procedures or work instructions. These are detailed descriptions of processes and what needs to be done by whom in what step.

    Sometimes you will use a workflowtool that guides you through the steps. Other times you don’t have any other choice that to print out whatever needs to be know and hang it right above everybody's heads. It seriously does not matter how low tech it is, as long as it sticks in the minds of people so they don’t go back to the way that has already been proven not to be the best.

  3. Standard metrics.
    With these I mean that set of metrics that you track on a, preferably, regular basis to assure you’re still on the right track or not. After doing your project you might want to take a look at the existing reports and the metrics within them and perhaps adjust the target or add a metric to ensure that that what you’ve just improved does not get lost.

The most important questions for this phase:

  • What are the measurable results?
  • Are the changes now part of the standard process? In other words, is it impossible to slip into old habits?
  • What needs to happen in the future?

Your Improvement Project

Create your 'controlplan'; this will help you make sure you get your improvements to stick.

Take the following questions into account:

  • Do the people who will need to do the work know why they need to do it differently?
  • Do they have all the knowledge/skills and resources required to do the work?
  • Are the changes part of the standard processes and procedures?
  • Does the manager know, understand and support the changes?
  • Should a KPI or KPI target change because of this improvement?
  • Etc.
The Control Phase
2 Lectures 08:19

Change management is hard but important, vital even!

Check out the blogs on my website and also on www.thechangemanagementtoolbook.com and www.strategiesformanagingchange.com for more information.

The Human Factor

Performance management should be an integral part of your continuously improving business.

Again, check out my blogs on my website but also follow Bernard Marr from the AP-Institute for some high quality blogs and books on this particular topic!

The link to your Daily Performance
Bonus: The Business Improvement Blueprint
2 Lectures 43:32

The first out of 2 videos that moves you along the Business Improvement Blueprint (see the additional resources).

These 2 bonus videos are great for when you want to get a birds eye perspective on your business and its processes and will definitely help you figure out which process to focus on first!

Become Aware of Where You're Wasting Your Time and Money

Get Honest About What Your Current Processes Are Costing You
About the Instructor
Linda Coussement
4.6 Average rating
9 Reviews
798 Students
1 Course
Business Improvement Coach for smallbiz and entrepreneurs

I’m on a quest to (r)evolutionise the business world by helping entrepreneurs build and grow remarkable businesses.

Because the more entrepreneurs are able to make their positive dent in the universe, the prettier that universe will become.

And helping you, that’s how I’m making MY dent.

I’ve done the corporate thing, been an undervalued employee, played the stressed out manager, created the Powerpoints as an external consultant and crawled the walls as a startup co-founder. And now, I’m solopreneuring.

Over the years I’ve seen and worked for or at dozens of organisations in all sorts of sizes – seriously, they varied from solopreneurs making raw pies, yogastudios and trendy salad bars to huge utility and telecom companies – and I know pretty much everything there is to know about the inner workings of a company.

On the other hand, I’ve also spend much time developing my own leadership and empathy skills which to me is essential for any successful leader and business.

All in all, I bring quite a lot to the table if I do say so myself :)

Visit my blog or Linkedin page for more information.