PSU’s Center for Executive and Professional Education Launches NEW Lean Leadership Certificate Program

As a part of the Portland State University's School of Business Administration, the Center for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE), caters to the demands of Portland's business community by providing advanced industry-specific training. With over 15 certificate programs spanning multiple fields, CEPE offers in-class, online, and custom education programs so professionals can launch their careers to the next level. Today, CEPE prides itself on offering the latest training in Lean principles and is excited to announce its new Lean Leadership certificate, starting April 8th, 2015.

CEPE created the Lean Leadership certificate to help professionals inspire behavioral change in their organizations. While the Lean Practitioner certificate program helps students learn the fundamentals of Lean implementation into their organization, the Lean Leader program is catered to senior managers, supervisors and team leaders looking to improve a system-wide approach to continual improvement and collaboration. By the end of the program, students will be proficient in the six balance points that every Lean Leader needs to thrive: authentic leadership, effectively creating vision, continual change and growth, situational leadership, sustaining Lean, and living Lean.

Tom Frabrizio, our Lean Leader instructor, has an impressive background in the industry. President and founder of Lean Manufacturing Tools, LLC and a founding member of the Northwest Center for Performance Excellence (NWCPE), Fabrizio has been teaching leadership, team development, and Just-In-Time systems for over 25 years. We sat down with Tom to get his insight on the value of Lean Leaders and what the future holds for the industry.

Q: Lean touches every industry. What key components make it universally applicable?

A: Every business has a product or service at the core of their purpose for existence. Every business has customers to serve, or they wouldn't be in business. The process of delivering that product or purpose in exactly the WAY your customer wants it, WHEN they want it, and at the PRICE they want it is what Lean is all about. But there is one more thing. Regardless of the industry, PEOPLE must perform the work and deliver the product. Without people being able to think, solve problems, and learn to improve, our businesses are not sustainable.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions of Lean Leadership?

A: That the leader is a "hero" and that it is the leader's job to show people how to perform Lean. Managers who try this may (or may not) have short term success, but ultimately fail. Instead, it is the work team that is the "hero" and it's the leader's job to teach, cajole, coach, and challenge these teams to succeed. And by the way, being a Lean Leader is much more difficult than just being a manager - it requires an unending wish to improve yourself every day.

Q: Many people think Lean principles are dying and are no longer used. Why do you think this is?

A: I don't blame them. Under the "Lean" brand so much junk has been presented by people who emphasize a few Lean tools but forget the sophisticated interconnectedness of vision, communication, creativity on all levels, and most of all improvement every day by every one. It blows my mind that consultants, trainers, and managers treat front-line workers like children. Instead, front-line workers are the first people who should be consulted. That principle is called "Gemba" - go to the source. Unfortunately, most leaders are unwilling or unable to do that.

Q: What would your argument be against those who believe Lean is outdated?

A: Every week I see Lean bring outstanding and sustainable results - when implemented right. I just finished working with an assembly line that used to take five and a half days to assemble a product (from start to finish). Now they do it in one day - and with fewer people. The two people who were not needed on that line are now on a line that was having trouble and really needed help. The front line people are happier, they are now all cross-trained in all jobs, the company is more successful, and the customers are happy because they get their orders on time. Everybody wins!

Q: What is a professional’s main benefit to being a Lean Leader as opposed to just incorporating Lean into their business?

A: That is the best question yet about Lean Leadership. To be a Lean Leader one must always work to be their most "effective and best self" and continue to learn and grow. My experience is that this is really rewarding personally. The skills and abilities you develop spill over to all parts of your life. You become a better person. Put another way, you improve your "personal" leadership skills, your skills in interacting with other people, your skills in leading groups (even families), and your abilities in leading organizations and aligning with your community. And besides, it's enjoyable.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have ever given or received regarding Lean Leadership?

A: "It's not about you - ever." It's about seeing a situation and people for real (not what we think we see or want to see or what is supposed to be there), understanding the systemic reason underlying the event (never blaming a person), finding the solution that is best for everybody, and then aligning everyone to work toward a "group" solution.

Q: Why should all professionals gain a Lean Leader certificate?

A: I'll answer this by reflecting on the people who have come to my classes. Of the ones that received a certificate, but did not have a job, more than 80% got a job after the course - and they stated that a major factor was the Lean certificate. Of the people who stayed with the company, nearly all of them reported that their job was more interesting, they were given more responsibility, and many received pay increases. Many people reported that in the job market, one of the first questions asked is about their knowledge and experience with Lean. Lean is no longer a fringe skill. It is becoming a core requirement for all professionals in all industries.

CEPE enables students to advance in the competitive business world by providing higher-level education from professional industry experts. Rather than traditional credit, CEPE graduates are awarded certificates of completion, applicable business skills and networking opportunities within Portland's business community. Certificate programs are specialized and short-term, enabling even the busiest individuals access to new industry training. CEPE students learn business strategy and tactical skills that can be directly applied to their careers or business endeavors.

Learn more about the Lean Leader Program and reserve your spot now!

We invite you to see what CEPE has to offer you and your business at or call 503.719.7655.

The Center for Executive and Professional Education is located at: 1500 SW 1st Ave., Suite 100B, Portland, OR 97201

Certificates available through PSU's School of Business Center for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE):

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