“The Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) and Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) have found a lot of interpretations of what constitutes a true expert in lean thinking,” says Steve Thompson, chair of the consortium composed of SME and AME members for development and administration of the new Certification in Lean Enterprise. Thompson is also lean engineering site manager for the Puget Sound, Wash., Boeing plant. “We want to define the core of lean, publish a standard body of knowledge and the develop examinations,” Thompson explains.
Mark Tomlinson, SME director for membership, adds, “SME, AME and the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing are collaborating with industry and academia in the development of a new industry standard for Lean Certification. Constituents of the participating organizations who encouraged a collaboration to set an industry standard for Lean certification are driving this initiative. We have had interest from Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Boeing, Motorola and the U.S. government. Interest in regard to a certification product is greater than anything we’ve seen in a long time. We had a ‘blitz week’ when people came in at their own expense to review materials, and more than 50 showed up.”
There are four levels of certification. The first level is intended to measure knowledge of lean principles. Candidates at the second level should be capable of applying Lean principles and tools to drive improvements and show measurable results. At the third level, Lean practitioners are expected to be senior employees/team leaders who should be capable of applying Lean principles and tools to drive improvements and show measurable results, plus orchestrate the transformation of a complete value stream. At the highest level of Lean Certification, the practitioner is at a point of influence and authority over assets, processes and people, with a solid understanding of all aspects of Lean transformation across the entire enterprise.