Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade

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A simple and fun introduction to lean thinking and the principles


ISBN: 978-1934109342

Published: March 2012

Author: Liz Maute, Robert Martichenko

Pages: 105

Publisher: Lean Enterprise Institute


About the book

Every lean practitioner occasionally wishes for a simple, fun, and quick-read introduction to lean thinking to give acquaintances, associates, and family members – even to our kids. If lean thinking often entails unlearning a plethora of bad habits, wouldn’t it better if we learned better thinking – and habits – from the beginning?

Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade is just that sort of book. It brings lean back to its original simplicity by showing how lean is alive in a first grade classroom. The book connects common lean tools to the broader lean journey, shows how to identify and eliminate waste, and aids the reader in seeing lean for what it truly is: a way to create a learning and problem-solving culture.

Written to educate the entire organization on the fundamentals of lean thinking, this is the perfect source to engage all team members at all levels of an organization. Originally self-published in 2008, LEI is proud to re-issue this book and make it available to the broader lean community.

About the author

Robert Martichenko

Robert Martichenko is the CEO of LeanCor, LLC. LeanCor is a trusted supply chain partner that delivers operational improvement and measurable financial results. LeanCor offers a unique combination of training and education, hands-on consulting, and outsourced logistics services that help manufacturers eliminate waste, drive down costs, and instill a problem solving culture across their supply chain.

Robert has over 20 years of lean supply chain implementation, logistics, and organizational transformation experience. He’s worked with companies such as Mitsubishi Caterpillar, General Mills, Kimberly Clark, JC Penney, Starbucks, Nestle, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, helping them improve inventory visibility and logistics control while achieving process improvement that delivers peak operating performance.

In addition to leading LeanCor, Robert is a senior instructor for the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Georgia Tech Supply Chain and Logistics Institute, as well as a frequent speaker for professional industry events. Robert has authored multiple lean and supply chain books and educational materials, including the Shingo Award winning workbook, Building a Lean Fulfillment Stream. His other books include Success in 60 Seconds, and Lean Six Sigma Logistics. Additionally, Robert has written several dozen articles on the topic of lean supply chain published in trade journals and industry publications.

Praise for the book

“An engaging and accessible overview … As it happens, my wife teaches grade school and I can confirm that we do indeed learn 5S, visual management, and the other lean basics at a young age. Why do we forget?”

Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting the Right Things Done, Andy & Me, and The Remedy

“An entertaining way to help your organization appreciate the broad possibilities to apply lean and the tremendous impact it can have with suppliers, customers, and within the company.”

Mark Richards, President, Associated Warehouses Inc.

“This unique work confirms the universal application of lean, no matter how old you are or what you do. Recommended reading for all!”

Helen Zak, President & COO, ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value

“An exciting and fresh perspective on time-honored lean principles. Proves the application of lean principles enables us to eliminate waste from all areas of our lives, whether it is work, home, or even our local elementary school.”

Gary Vance, Director of Lean Development, JW Aluminum

“An excellent source to help your organization begin thinking about and understanding just what it means to implement and become lean. Create the critical thinking to get your lean transformation off to the right start.”

Jim Huntzinger, President, Lean Accounting Summit

“From the front office to the shop floor, this is the book everybody in your organization should read!”

John Rickerby, President, First Concrete Ltd.

“Weaves lean priciples into an experience everyone can relate to. No matter how far along you are on your lean journey, this book has something for you. This should be required reading for all organizations.”

Steve Scholten, Professor of logistics

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Additional information

Weight 0.3 kg

Lean Enterprise Institute