As popular as lean manufacturing is, and its practice of cell manufacturing, no formal job description of a “lean cell leader” exists. However, we may make some assumptions, based on existing practices.

Cell-based Manufacturing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (which uses lean principles) provides an excellent description of cellular manufacturing: “Rather than processing multiple parts before sending them on to the next machine or process step…[it] aims to move products through the manufacturing process one-piece at a time, at a rate determined by customers' needs.”

Value Stream

Cell-based manufacturing is arranged in a linear progression, called a value stream. Each cell adds value to, or further completes a product. The first cell receives raw materials, and the last cell pushes out finished product.


Presumably, the lean-cell leader ensures that cell-based manufacturing achieves the lean manufacturing goals of, 1) on-time delivery; 2) continuous flow; 3) customer satisfaction, and 4) zero defects.


A lean practice is the “genchi gembutsu,” a Japanese term (derived from the Toyota production system) which encourages leaders to walk the production lines to see the actual practices and results. This is also known as the “gemba walk.” The lean cell leader spends her time at the forefront of production, on the shop floor.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) recognizes lean manufacturing as elemental to such jobs as machine operators and shop forepeople, but, does not offer a job description of “Lean Cell Leader.”