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Lean Management

We transform organizations by creating a new way of working—setting up systems to drive continuous improvement and engaging employees to meet customer needs more effectively.

McKinsey believes that lean is much more than a “toolkit” or a methodology for removing waste. We completely transform how companies operate, focusing in particular on creating a culture of continuous improvement and a new leadership approach. We instill new routines and behaviors to unleash leadership capacity. A true lean management enterprise feels like a very unique place to work:

  • Employees at all levels understand the organization’s vision and translate it into action every day, with a common purpose toward common goals across the entire enterprise.
  • Managers develop people with the expectation that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to the best of their ability.
  • Everyone sees problems as opportunities to make the business stronger.
  • Employees understand their customers, and seek to meet their needs as efficiently as possible.

These “management disciplines” correlate to tangible skills and ways of working that people and organizations can learn—which, over time, constitute a new company culture: how people behave and think.

How we transform companies

We design a transformation that makes sense for each organization, based on proven methods for attaining the right balance between fast and deep. Our impact comes from building the capabilities of employees to understand their customers, measure performance, and fix problems that arise.

A common challenge of big transformation programs is making sure change sticks over time. We have developed unique solutions to teach the capabilities required to sustain operational excellence:

Digital Leader Standard Work

Digital Leader Standard Work is a learning tool that allows managers to track progress on the routines and activities they’re asked to perform in a lean way of working, and to receive upward feedback and senior manager coaching on how they are doing.

“Go & See”

“Go & See” visits allow senior managers to learn from peers who are more advanced in transforming their organizations. One-day visits across the world create an unparalleled network to instill leaders with conviction and confidence in the new way of working.

The Operational Excellence Index (OEI)

The Operational Excellence Index (OEI) is an assessment of operational maturity which is embedded in all of our transformations. This methodology—and the digital tool that supports it—offers a built-in approach to drive continuous improvement by offering a starting point, and narrowing in on targets for improvement.

Continuous improvement teams use the Digital OEI to run maturity assessments with a single solution for notes, scoring, reporting, feedback, benchmarking, and logging improvement goals.

Digital Lean Academy

Digital Lean Academy (part of the McKinsey Academy suite) is a set of two online learning modules, which can be taken individually or in teams. The content teaches the basics of lean management, gives students insight into how a transformation will deploy and affect them, and trains on the tools needed to sustain transformation.

Capability-building centers

Capability-building centers around the world use experiential and other proven learning techniques to demonstrate best practices, develop skills, and create executive commitment.

Expert consultants

Expert consultants who have led similar transformations, some recognized by The Shingo Prize, serve as peer coaches to our clients.

Featured Experts

Kweilin Ellingrud

McKinsey Global Institute Director and Senior Partner, Minneapolis

Zachary Surak

Senior Partner, New Jersey

Featured Insight


The work of leaders in a lean management enterprise

– Learn what successful lean leaders do to integrate new technologies and approaches, and to ensure that the practices that support continuous improvement also improve continuously.

Featured video

Being Lean

Over time, organizations of all kinds—whether manufacturers or service providers, governments or not-for-profits—become awfully complicated. Lean management helps them engage all of their people, at every level, to help the entire organization work better: delivering more for customers, building stronger capabilities, finding new and better ways of working, and renewing a sense of common purpose.

Lean management enterprise brochure

Learn how a thoughtful approach to a lean management transformation can increase the odds of success.



The lean management enterprise

– A system for daily progress, meaningful purpose, and lasting value.

Shingo Research Award

McKinsey is honored to have received a 2014 Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award for “The Lean Management Enterprise.”


An operating model for company-wide agile development

– Organizations are succeeding with agile software and product development in discrete projects and teams. To do so in multiple... business units and product groups, they must rethink foundational processes, structures, and relationships.

Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement in Insurance

– For insurers, the next improvement opportunity is to build a management structure that will enable them to keep improving. Creating... the right processes and habits requires a deep commitment, but the resulting transformation leaves an institution far stronger.

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