Levering the principles of CIPS Lean Pedagogy | by Simbarashe Manwere

Simbarashe MaswereThe average working Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) student often finds themselves at the centre of a tug of war. Pulling in one direction is the overwhelming corporate pressure to perform and deliver on the job, while the inevitable psycho-socio-cultural need for a balanced home-life tugs in the other direction. No wonder it takes an average of three years for a CIPS student to complete their diploma, advanced diploma and professional diploma stages. However, with careful application of the principles of lean pedagogy – herein referred to as CIPS Lean Pedagogy (CLP) – there is a potential 50% time saving to be had.

Lean Pedagogy is based on the five principles of “Lean Thinking” as applied in the manufacturing engineering concept pioneered by Toyota Motor Company (TMC) in Japan. The reason why engineering thinking applies in human capacity building is that both are transformative processes following the traditional operations model. Education is as much an industrial process as is manufacturing. In the language of lean studies, both education and industrial manufacturing have a SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, processing, outputs, customers) structure. See image below.

Leagile suppliers
Suppliers (like homes, employers and schools) provide learners into the CIPS value stream. The learners meet with inputs in the form of tutors and course material in whatever form it comes. The processing thereof involves the planning, teaching, assessment and actual learning by the CIPS Student. Thereafter, the non-defective product, being a learner who has achieved all the outcomes, is released as output. The economy then absorbs this output through the different stakeholders classified as customers.

Based on the applicability of this SIPOC structure to education, training and development, it is thus possible to apply the five principles of lean thinking in process-based improvements as described below. Using the CIPS Level 4 Diploma course, I will illustrate the application of lean manufacturing engineering thinking in the soft skills domain of professional procurement studies.

1. Identify value
Value must be defined from the eyes of the customer. The CIPS Assessor or Examiner is the customer while the procurement student is the supplier. What the CIPS Examiner wants is defined clearly (like specifications) in the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria. The student must supply the evidence of knowledge and skills in procurement and supply as defined by learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

2. Map the value stream
The value stream map (VSM) is the end-to-end series of all activities that add value to the customer. Anything which does not add value to the customer is described as waste, and is therefore eliminated. For the CIPS Diploma, the VSM is the ten steps of the generic procurement cycle (GPC) as shown below. This means that the examiner only wants the CIPS learner to master these ten steps in order to provide quality product which is acceptable. Although there are five modules in the diploma course, all of them just fit into the different phases of the GPC. Detailed mapping will be provided later in subsequent issues where Taichi Ohno 7 wastes in the CIPS curriculum are exposed.

3. Create flow
Since wastes have been eliminated (non-value adding activities, called NVAs), the procurement student and CIPS tutor only focus on a lean curriculum containing only what the examiner expects. No lesson should be carried out if it does not address the learning outcomes as per assessment criteria. This involves the use of flipped classroom concept. It is the opposite of the traditional classroom where teaching comes first followed by assessment. With CLP, assessment starts and then teaching follows. This ensures that students are taught the things they need to know and which examiners expect of them to know and understand. Therefore the pre-homework questions are sent ahead of the lecture or contact session, and assessed in advance in order for the tutor to establish the level at which to pitch the tutorial.

4. Establish pull
The CIPS tutorials and lectures must be demand-driven, meaning the learning challenges identified in the pre-homework together with the examiners expectations from the procurement student are the only things that are covered during the contact sessions. Steps three and four are two sides of the same coin; when wastes have been eliminated, only what is pulled by the value system is what gets delivered.

5. Seek perfection
This final stage ensures that lessons learnt along the way are not lost. It follows the Kolb Experiential Learning Model made up of the four stages as set forth below:

seek perfection

In conclusion, CLP requires the reconfiguration of the five diploma modules to fit into the GPC value stream map which contains all that the Level 4 CIPS procurement student needs to know at a tactical level. The CIPS Diploma courses are structured in ascending order of the corporate hierarchy. This means that Level 4 is tactical and addresses the junior members of staff, Level 5 is operational and caters for middle management while Level 6 is strategic and is tailored for senior management and corporate executives.

Simbarashe Manwere (MCIPS) is a a winner of CIPS President’s Award and recipient of CIPS Honorary Life Membership. For further information about studying toward a CIPS qualification,  send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..