Our Purpose

LERC acts as a catalyst for change and improvement through collaborative and applied research,
offering new insights into lean thinking and how it can be applied to help organisations
improve their effectiveness and achievement of purpose.


LERC's mission is to design and deliver innovative lean thinking research and is dedicated to:

  • Developing pioneering, innovative and collaborative lean thinking research that has practical and academic significance
  • Helping organisations achieve world class performance through the application of lean thinking principles and techniques
  • Disseminating lean thinking knowledge through a range of communication channels

1. Beginnings

LERC was formed in 1994, bringing together the benchmarking and lean production work of Daniel Jones (together with James Womack of MIT) and the work on supplier development and materials management of Peter Hines. Womack and Jones' seminal book 'The Machine that Changed the World' (1990) popularised the term "lean thinking" and its adoption accelerated with the publication of 'Lean Thinking' in 1996.

The Centre’s growth was rapid and it developed a range of research and education programmes reflecting lean's application in many sectors. It grew to some twenty plus staff, drawn from a wide range of sectors and functional areas, including logistics, engineering, operations, information technology, accounting and marketing.

Tow of its foundational research programmes were the International Car Distribution Programme (ICDP) and the Supply Chain Development Programme (SCDP).

2. Initial Focus & Growth

Originally, LERC's research concentrated in the automotive sector and then extended into new areas, as the desire to adopt and implement lean principles spread and its research portfolio grew to include, for example, automotive, steel, retailing, components distribution, packaging and food sectors.

Key programmes, projects and topics included the 3DayCar Programme, SUCCESS, Home Shopping Research Unit, Lean in Healthcare, Green & Lean, Integrated Transport Project, Tesco Lean Administration Project, the Food Process Innovation Unit (FPIU), Asda Supplier Association, Precision Concept Design Model of Manufacture for Competitive Advantage (PREMADE) and the Lean University In 2003 LERC co-founded the EPSRC funded Cardiff University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre.

See the 'Our History' timeline below.

3. Expansion of Activities

LERC expanded the services it offered in response to the demand from the new sectors and businesses for assistance in 'going lean'. This led to the development of an executive education programme, including most notably, the MSc in Lean Operations - the world's first lean masters programme - with John Bicheno as course director, which added a service element in 2004.

The Centre became active in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and ran many workshops and events, including major annual conferences, at which many world leading lean thinkers participated.

LERC became active in promoting and supervising PhD's and has had many successful candidates.

4. Under LCS Management

LERC developed and launched the Lean Competency System (LCS) in 2005 in response to a market need for a lean oriented workplace based qualifications framework. An accreditation method was developed and demand for the LCS grew steadily.

With organisational changes in 2012 several key members left LERC; meanwhile, a decision was taken to develop and expand the LCS and in 2014 a spin-out licenced company - Lean Competency Services Ltd - was launched.

With continuing interest in lean oriented research with a high practical focus, the LCS proposed to the Business School that it was in a good position to re-invigorate the LERC research agenda to not only underpin LCS development, but also to continue LERC's original mission and in 2018 it was agreed that the LCS should assume responsibility for managing LERC.

Our history

The LERC Community

LERC aims to promote strong networking and collaborative research, as it believes this leads to innovative thinking and outputs that can have a real impact on business and society, as well as promoting the rapid and effective dissemination of knowledge.

In 2019 it plans to establish a broad community of practitioners and academics with an international dimension and is developing several categories of membership, reflecting contributor's different roles, backgrounds, type and level of involvement with its activities.

Meet our Advisory Group

The LERC Advisory Group helps shape the LERC research agenda and aims to ensure it remains innovative and relevant to the challenges and issues facing organisations. It also has a governance role and provides resourcing and funding advice. The Group contains representatives from industry and academia. Click on the button to view current Advisory Group members.

Forthcoming Events

LERC's workshops, seminars and conferences.