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SME Certification

Lean Certification


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Lean Bronze Certification

Earning your Lean Bronze Certification demonstrates your solid understanding of basic lean principles and tools, and your ability in tactical implementation that drives improvement and shows measurable results.

You'll study and learn lean from a TACTICAL viewpoint within these key modules as identified in the Lean Certification Body of Knowledge (PDF).

  • Cultural Enablers (15%)
  • Continuous Process Improvements (60%)
  • Consistent Lean Enterprise Culture (10%)
  • Business Results (15%)

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1. Assess your knowledge and experience

To earn this certification, you must demonstrate your understanding of the Lean Certification Body of Knowledge (PDF) by passing the Knowledge Exam and creating and passing your lean portfolio review.

You should also understand the basics of lean, including:

Autonomation (jidoka)
Cells, one-piece flow
Continuous improvement (kaizen)
Cost, productivity results
Customer demand pace (takt time)
Customer requirements, satisfaction
Distribution, logistics, delivery
Identifying value added/non-value added work
Identifying waste
Lean product design
Load leveling (heijunka)
  Mistake proofing (poka-yoke)
Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA)
Problem solving (5 whys)
Pull systems (kanban)
Quality methods
Quick changeover, setup reduction
Root cause, corrective action
Standard work
Total productive maintenance (TPM)
Value stream mapping
Visual factory

2. Read the core reference material

Exam questions are based on specific core reference material (PDF) selected by knowledgeable and experienced individuals. Save 10% by purchasing the Lean Bronze Certification book package, which includes:

3. Assess education and lean experience

Certification consists of the submission of a portfolio that embodies your lean application experience. The prerequisite for certification is to have 80 hours of continuing lean education, participation in or leadership of five projects, and successfully pass the knowledge exam.

Download a blank lean portfolio template (MS Word) and immediately begin to assess your training and on-the-job lean experience.

4. Apply

After you apply for the Lean Bronze Certification program, you will receive an email that provides you with details on your next steps. If you do not receive this email, please contact or call 800.733.4763. You have one year to take the exam from date of purchase.

5. Optional – Attend a classroom review course or register for Lean Online Review Program (LORP)

Review courses are not meant to be training, but a way to understand the Lean Certification exam, organize your reference material, and refresh your memory. You must bring the recommended reading material to the classroom review program or have available for the online review program.

6. Take the exam

The open-book, 170-question exam takes three hours. It is strongly recommended that you bring your recommended reading materials (PDF) to the exam. All exam questions are taken from those sources. You can find exam taking tips here. (PDF)

7. Receive the Lean Knowledge Certificate

When you pass the knowledge exam, you receive a certificate (not a certification) that serves as a base for your pursuit of the Lean Bronze, Lean Silver, and Lean Gold Certifications. It is valid for three years and is not renewable. To earn your certification, you must submit and pass the lean portfolio review.

8. Submit your lean portfolio

To earn your Lean Bronze Certification, you must submit and pass your lean portfolio review. You have three years from the date on your knowledge certificate in which to submit your lean portfolio for review.

Your portfolio should document and include:

  • Completion of 80 hours minimum of education/training requirements.
  • Five (5) tactical projects: events, projects and/or activities to which specific lean principles and tools were applied*
  • A portfolio reflection that captures your personal lean development journey and your reflection about what you have learned through the portfolio and certification process.

Once you have passed your portfolio review, you will receive your Lean Bronze Certification (LBC), which is valid for three years.

Portfolio forms and additional resources can be found on the Preparing for Certification webpage.

*Projects should demonstrate continuing practice in lean. For example, if you are applying for certification in 2006, and you started your lean practice in 2001, you may choose to include projects from 2002, 2004 and 2006 in your portfolio to demonstrate that you are still practicing lean.

9. Optional – Work with a mentor

Mentoring is an informal relationship between you and someone with more lean knowledge and experience. Seeking a mentor is strongly recommended. To find a mentor, look within your own company. There may be a mentoring program already in place, your manager or supervisor may be willing to take on the role, or there may be a lean leader or champion who can help you.

If you are an SME member, your local chapter may be a source. You may also want to contact one of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) leaders in your region. You can also join the lean registry for support and mentoring.

10. Plan your next step

Your Lean Bronze Certification is valid for three years. You may choose to pursue recertification or the Lean Silver Certification.

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