Choosing the Right Course: Lean Leadership vs. Coaching for Improvement

June 7, 2022

by Cj Pettus

Nexus Instructor Drew Locher wants to help you improve your organization’s outcomes.

Lean thinking can help almost anyone—in almost any field—to improve processes and achieve better results. Although Lean includes a variety of principles, tools, and techniques, the reason the methodology is highly effective is because people are at its core. With full team buy-in and support, Lean methodology can transform an organization by improving outcomes for the customers and employees. 

In order to successfully implement Lean tools, an organization must have leaders who believe in the methodology and employees who are trained. Lean Specialist Drew Locher helps organizations successfully implement Lean strategies. He teaches two certificate courses at the University of Michigan: Lean Leadership and Coaching for Improvement. Both courses are valuable for organizations that are undertaking a continuous improvement journey. Deciding which course is right for your organization depends on your current focus. 


As Drew Locher says, “the key to driving continuous improvement and ideally developing a culture of continuous improvement is frontline and middle management. Always has been. Always will be.” 

In order for people in management roles to lead a Lean culture, they need to develop their leadership skills as well as their continuous improvement knowledge. The Lean Leadership course connects these two areas, and both experienced Lean practitioners and emerging practitioners benefit from the certificate course. 

Drew says, “We cover skills—general skills that you might see in other frontline and middle management development programs, like communication—as well as continuous improvement tools. We cover tools like visual management, leader standard work, and observation skills. The program brings it all together into a comprehensive management system, and the participants get a chance to reflect on their existing systems and identify the gaps and learn how to start closing them.”


In organizations where some people have already bought into the importance of Lean thinking, Coaching for Improvement can take the organization to the next level. Because people are always at the core of Lean success, gaining the ability to train others in your organization to become Lean practitioners creates an overall net positive. 

Drew says, “people aren’t born with these skills. We all learn from someone else. And that’s why the Coaching for Improvement program is so important. We cover proper practice of problem solving and process improvement and how you teach it to others—how you develop the skills of others.”

This course is important because organizations need to be able to grow from within. Getting started on a Lean journey with the help of a program, like the courses Nexus offers, is important. However, it is also important for an organization to be able to depend on its employees for growth. The Coaching for Improvement certificate course gives participants the skills to train and develop the continuous improvement skills of others in their organization. Workers at your company gain the ability to grow and develop Lean methodology internally without having to depend on outside consultants or courses indefinitely. 


Whatever your continuous improvement goals, you can take the next steps and achieve them by earning a certificate from Nexus at Michigan Engineering. Whether you are seeking to strengthen your continuous improvement-focused leadership skills or preparing to train your teammates to become more effective Lean practitioners, you can do so with help from instructor Drew Locher.

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