Trainings, Workshops and Events

Lean Research Convening. MIT, August, 2014.
Lean Research Convening. MIT, August, 2014.

The Lean Research team and steering committee offer trainings, workshops and events to discuss and further develop the approach of rigorous, respectful, relevant, and right-sized research, monitoring and evaluation.


MIT D-Lab provides in-person and online training on how to apply the Lean Research principles. Check out D-Lab: Field Research - Understanding Development Impact classes and the D-Lab - MITx online course on Lean Research Skills for Conducting Interviews.


August 2014

In August 2014, we held our first Lean Research event at MIT’s D-Lab, with fifty people in attendance, spanning a diversity of fields and disciplines. Representatives from organizations such as MasterCard Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grameen Foundation, Save the Children, World Bank, and USAID and many others offered ideas that helped the Lean Research Steering Team refine the core principles of Rigor, Respect, Relevance and Right-Sizing. Read more.

Participants were able to cite specific examples of each principle and elaborate on basic themes that affect both academic research as well as research in development contexts. Insights from this event have helped shape the Lean Research Working Paper, Principles, Framework, and Guiding Questions.

Following this events, Alex Counts of the Grameen Foundation shared some reflections in a blog post titled “The Start of a Movement for Lean Research?“. Kim Wilson of The Fletcher School shared her own reflections on reimagining the study of financial inclusion through Lean Research.

August 2015

In April 2015, sixty students, researchers and practitioners gathered at Tufts University for a Lean Lab. Dr. Scott Brewer, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, kicked off the event with a reflection on What is Evidence?” A series of practical sessions and simulations followed Dr. Brewer’s talk. Each examined the research experience of the human subject in contexts of extreme vulnerability. Read more.

Participants segmented each step along the research journey – from initial contact with the subject to a final report – and identified possible pain points for the research participant and ways to mitigate them. The Lean Lab has helped the steering team brainstorm ideas for a Field Guide with specific examples from practitioners.

Following the Lean Lab, a participant referenced  the Lean Research approach in an article called Making Evidence Practical for Development, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

April 2016

The Lean Research steering team hosted a Lean Lab in April 2016 at Tufts University. Keynote speaker Alnoor Ebrahim discussed Lean Data, a concept that Acumen and Ebrahim developed and which culminated in the paper titled The Power of Lean Data, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Read more.

The rest of the day focused on specific exercises and drew out examples from participants about their research successes and failures, and how the Lean Research approach can inform various steps of the research process.

May 2017

The team hosted a Lean Lab in May 2017 at Tufts University. The steering committee talked through challenges students have encountered or could encounter in the field and how the Lean Research principles could address those issues. The day ended with a presentation by the Technology Enabled Girl Ambassador Program and how they have applied the principles to their work.


Kendra Leith, Associate Director for Research