I am a trainer and consultant in lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, quality management, and business management.
Employment as a Lean Consultant
So, you are considering finding employment as a lean consultant! Why? Are you after fame, fortune or just want to get the girl? Before you run out and quit the day job you need to look carefully at your motivations and your plans. Be honest about why you want the job and objectively analyze if you can achieve those goals. Be honest about why you want to work in consultancy and if lean consulting is the job for you.
This hub will look at the following areas;
Education and experience
Working for a Consultancy
Many people move into consultancy believing that it is an easy life and a get rich quick scheme, the reality is very different. It is never an easy life, you have to work hard if you want to succeed, the more you put in, the more you will get out. As to the money, when you start out the rewards can be very low, but the harder you work the more you can earn, at the top of the profession there is the opportunity to earn the big bucks, but getting there is going to take extreme hard work and dedication.
Becoming a Lean Consultant
Education and Experience to Become a Lean Consultant
In this section I will discuss the education and experience that you will need to find employment as a lean consultant. I will expand on this in the later sections.
If you are going to impress your future employers with your skills and knowledge then it is best that you have a reasonable level of education to get your foot through the door. It is unlikely that your CV or resume (Yes they will want to see a full CV for the consultant) will pass first glance unless that you can show that you have as a minimum a degree, preferably a Masters in a relevant subject, Phd can actually be counterproductive as some see this as a sign of someone that is too academic!
It is also very worthwhile having membership of a professional body in addition to your degree, this shows some dedication to your profession, again this needs to be a relevant professional membership, institute of management, institute of mechanical engineers etc..
All of these will get your CV or resume at least
looked at! Then you need to demonstrate your experience and capability. You
need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills and knowledge specific
to lean, what training courses have you attended and how have you implemented
You need to demonstrate your capability
with some relevant implementations of lean, not just a few individual tools but
the broad philosophy to show how you have interacted with a company at all
levels. You need to have implemented lean manufacturing ideas and tools with
measurable success and you must be able to detail these improvements on your CV
or Resume. It is not enough to have just implemented 5S or 5C a few times, you need to show a full understanding of the principles of Just in Time (JIT) and all of the lean tools.
If you have none of the above then you need to
be honest with yourself about your future prospects within this area, or go out
and earn them! You need to have a clear understanding as to what is lean manufacturing, the history of lean manufacturing and if you want to sell your services you need to demonstrate the benefits of lean manufacturing.
Tackling Problems by becoming a Lean Consultant
Employment as an Independent Lean Consultant
Most people who leave employment to become an independent consultant are normally fed up with their current job and are seeking greater variety and more money without the bind of working for someone else. In addition to this there is also the recently unemployed who decide they can make it on their own, which ever category you fall into you have a lot of work ahead of you.
You have to be able to market yourself, do you need a website to advertise your self? Do you need brochures, flyers, business cards? Business address, registration, bank accounts, the list can go on and on. Before you jump in go get some advice, there are organizations out there who will give you free and impartial advice about setting up your business, also talk to your bank, most have small business sections who will give free advice also! Be prepared, do the groundwork, prepare your business plan as to what you want to achieve and how you will get there, if you can’t do this then you should not even be considering the move into consultancy, go get a job now or stay where you are, be honest with yourself!
Once you have the basics you need to find customers, network with all possible groups in your local area. Chambers of commerce, Universities, Technical Colleges, specific networking groups! There are a number of networking groups that are businesses in their own right, they charge you a membership fee and help put you in touch with different companies who also join looking to sell their services and products. Work to make many contacts, speak at events about your subject, do anything to put you in a position to speak with potential clients. This is not a 9 to 5 job, most of your networking will be breakfast meetings and evening events!
Visit every company that you can for any reason, have an eye open for any opportunity within those companies, be able to make your sales pitch at the slightest sign of interest or opportunity. Make everyone knows who you are and what you can do in your local business community! Network with every governmental agency and employee that has contact with local businesses, introduce yourself to every business adviser at every bank in the area.
Keep your eye on the Job pages of your local newspapers, look at who are taking on new employees, this generally means expansion and change, an ideal time to start to implement lean.
Does this sound like hard work? It is, you need to build the groundwork for your business, without the groundwork being complete your business will take 3 steps backward for every 2 forward! You have to put in the hours and work hard at this job, the eventual rewards are worth it. This networking can actually be quite enjoyable, traveling and meeting many new people without too much real pressure.
Eventually you will meet people who want to avail themselves of your services, be realistic you will have to invest your time to convince them of what you can do, you will have to produce a realistic proposal that addresses the real needs of their business and give them a good idea of what your proposals will save them in real money, this is where you can win the business with ease as there are so many opportunities to save in most businesses!
Be prepared to work for low wages or be paid on performance until you prove yourself, do this on the basis of the fact that you like the company, you think it has a great future and you really want to work for them in the future, not that you need to prove yourself and any work is good work at the moment!
Once you have proved yourself in your community and you have made some significant improvements the word will get around, you can use your reputation to demand a reasonable fee, after all if the company can make these improvements themselves they would have already done it! Do not try to compete on price or to win business at this stage by reducing your fees, set a realistic achievable fee and stick to it! If you can demonstrate cost savings and success then you can give real figures for the companies return on investment, normally you should be able to show that you will save them at least ten times what you charge them if not more. The fact that you have done it before proves this. I have always walked away if the company does not want to pay my rate when I have shown them the return, I have other business that is paying that rate, they often return after a few months when the area you were offering to improve has caused them pain in some way!
This business model is a slow starting, high maintenance model that has great benefits and earning potential if you stick to it and work hard, if you don’t want the hard work then the rewards of this employment will be low!
Employment as a Lean manufacturing consultant Partner
The partnership model is similar to above, the difference is that you join a group of like minded individuals who offer business consultancy services, you share the networking and business administration in some manner and everyone promotes each other. This can be a formal or an informal arrangement.
This can work well if everyone involved pulls their weight, however if there are a few individuals who don't do their job and appear to be living off the backs of the others this model can quickly dissolve.
Within a partnership arrangement it is not necessary for you all to be of the same discipline, it is more often advantageous to have a range of different skills and educate each other in what you each are capable of. That way the Financial guy can see where your skills could help a business to save money and recommend your services.
This model is a very good way of working, I worked informally within a group in the UK and we often passed business back and forth between ourselves doing "sales and marketing" for each others abilities to maximize the amount of work that we could find.
Lean Consultancy Work
Become a lean manufacturing consultant within a Large Consultancy
Often large consultancies will employ young promising engineers direct from university and train them in the lean tools by placing them with experienced lean consultants to assist with implementations, this is often a good route in if you are coming straight from university, wages are generally reasonable but it can take some time to climb the ladder. Again here the rule is the harder you work and the more you prove yourself the faster and greater your success will be.
You can also find employment with the larger consultancies in much the way you would apply for any other job, and this is exactly what it is, another job. Working for a large consultancy can be quite pressured. You will have targets to meet with regards to income generation and your success is very much measured on your income not your ability or how good your implementations are or how many jobs you have saved and so on!
I have experience of working for the large consultancies, the purely commercial ones in my mind were not enjoyable, they are all about money and generating it without real concern for the client (maybe I am being harsh but this was my experience!) They are a very pressured place to work and personally did not enjoy what I was doing as I was not always able to do what was best for the client as I was being pushed to do what generated the most income.
I have also worked for consultancies that are linked to academic institutions and government departments, I found with these that although the rewards may not be so great the opportunity to actually do the right thing for the company and actually help them to improve were much greater. This did not feel as much like a boring pressured job like the one with the large commercial consultancy. Also in this environment I found that the other consultants were more likely to help you as there was not the competition between consultants as in the more commercial setups.
Employment as a Lean Manufacturing Consultant Video
Become a lean manufacturing consultant video
Become a lean Consultant Links
The following are useful links for business support and lean manufacturing resources.
http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/ Institute for Manufacturing
http://www.thecqi.org/ Chartered Quality Institute
http://asq.org/ American Society of Quality
http://www.nam.org/ American National Association of Manufacturers
http://www.bis.gov.uk/ UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills
http://trade.gov/ International Trade Administration USA
http://www.mas.bis.gov.uk/ UK Manufacturing Advisory Service
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/home UK Business Link
http://www.business.gov/ US Business Link
http://www.smmt.co.uk/home.cfm Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
http://www.aiag.org/scriptcontent/index.cfm Automotive Industry Action Group
These Links will help you to find more information regarding becoming a lean manufacturing consultant.
Sumudu Karunarathne on October 24, 2017:
Great article. Thank you for sharing with us.
Currently, I am working as a Lean Coch at World Famous Solid Tyre Manufactury company in Sri Lanka. Really I am looking move to the Lean Consultancy purely. You have shown the path for me to reach my objective. Thanks again for your article, it was very informative & most helped me. Further, I am looking forward valuable advice from you to success my career as a lean consultant.
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 22, 2016:
Good luck with your ambition Marc; let us know how you get on with becoming a lean consultant.
Marc on June 21, 2016:
Great read :) I'm looking to move into Lean consultancy purely because i love seeing businesses embark on their lean journey and the amazement in their faces of how simple improvements can have a big impact on efficiency, delivery performance and culture. Thanks again i'm sure the info will help me achieve my goal of being self employed and happy in my work......
Thobs on August 18, 2015:
Very informative, exactly what I was looking for and I will make sure I use the information effectively.
Ashish on January 16, 2012:
Nice article to read.
Executive coaching on May 12, 2011:
Wow, this is really a good teachings about how to become a lean consultant. I learn from your blog and was surprised of the tips in here. This is really cool for Universities and learning new
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 17, 2010:
Thanks PDH, I loved working for the Universities, I wish at times I was still employed there but it would never pay my bills... lol
I will have a quick look at my emails..
prettydarkhorse from US on June 17, 2010:
Hi lean. I am so glad I am the first to read this one, Educational setting is more relax also, Thanks, now I know more info about this lean jobs and consultancies, Nice advices also, beautiful hub and well written,full of information, Lean, read your email, I have a request , Thanks, Maita