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Who's Lean in TV & Film: The Final 8 Contenders

by Joshua Rapoza
December 11, 2013

Who's Lean in TV & Film: The Final 8 Contenders

by Joshua Rapoza
December 11, 2013 | Comments (0)

Amazingly, we’re nearing the end of our Who’s Lean in TV and Film tournament. Each week the lean community has voted in head to head matchups with the winners going on to face a new competitor. Here are the great 8 folks, get voting.

Vote in each head to head and share your thoughts in the comments below. Your participation in this event has been fantastic, and now that the competition has heated up, every vote is crucial.

leanscreen

Voting for this round has ended.  Click here to follow the progress of this contest

Match-up #1

Gregory House, M.D.

House (TV)

vs.

Al Borland

Home Improvement (TV)

As noted by LEI faculty member Mike Rother, “The way to a goal is iterative.”  This couldn’t be illustrated better than when House and his team had a case.  Their treatments were often experimental; they had a theory about what was happening and some data to back it up.  Based on this info, they came up with a hypothesis, tried something, and observed the results.  Sometimes the experiment worked, sometimes it didn‘t.  PDCA at its best!

House and his team were also constantly asking the patient questions, searching patients’ homes or workplaces, tracking down family and friends to try to get answers.  House was the ultimate cynic (“Everybody lies”) and perhaps not the most polite, but he certainly was diligent.  Along those same lines, House loved identifying the root cause.  It kept him up at night.

Al’s job was to reel Tim Taylor back from the brink of disaster.  He was always looking for ways to improve things, and, if you recall, he always had a standard way of doing things.  He was a master at standard work.

As we saw in the scenes set in the shop, Al also knew the value of 5S.  He was “Green” and Tim made fun of him for that.  Interestingly, Al didn‘t argue back.  He just cited the facts in order to settle disputes in a respectful manner.  Unlike Tim, Al took his relationships seriously and was respectful of others.

Gregory House, M.D. (House)
Gregory House, M.D.
House (TV)
 
62%
Al Borland
Home Improvement (TV)
 
38%
Al Borland (Home Improvement)

Match-up #2

Sheldon Cooper

The Big Bang Theory (TV)

vs.

Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones Movies (Film)

Sheldon is a master of 5S and Standard Work, as you can tell from the lab and apartment layout.  He is rock solid on schedules and takt times, he always does root cause analysis, and he uses the scientific method for problem solving.  In the episode called “The Worksong Nanocluster,” (Season 2, Episode 18) Sheldon essentially performs a kaizen on the process the character Penny uses to make “Penny Blossoms.”

On the downside, he is not the most effective manager.  Still, he seems to implicitly understand one piece flow, structured brainstorming, and the value of experimentation (to some extent).

“Indy” is perhaps the king of just-in-time production/activity.  Whether catching a float plane, avoiding blades that would slice his head off, or grabbing his signature fedora from the other side of an ancient door that is about to crush him, he always manages to complete the task just when he needs to, not a second before.  Steven Spielberg painted a pretty good picture of JIT when we see the fedora being grabbed at the last possible second.  Any earlier, it wouldn’t be such a great dramatic moment; any later, and the movie ends in the first 20 minutes.

No one goes to the gemba quite like Dr. Jones.  Whether it is a tomb or a jungle or a tomb in the jungle, he goes to where the work is (in this case was) done. His ability to grasp the situation, solve problems (or puzzles), often with the materials he had on hand (for example a bag of sand to counterbalance the treasure’s weight), shows that he has the capability for lean thinking.  That is, unless the problem involves snakes.

Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
Sheldon Cooper
The Big Bang Theory (TV)
 
64%
Indiana Jones
Indiana Jones Movies (Film)
 
36%
Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones Movies)

Match-up #3

Jean-Luc Picard

Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV & Film)

vs.

Mr. Miyagi

The Karate Kid (Film)

Leadership in a lean transformation is crucial to its success.  Jean-Luc Picard exemplified the type of leadership needed to get his team to boldly go where no man (team?) has gone before (or was that Shatner?)

Depicted as deeply moral, highly logical and intelligent, Picard is a master of diplomacy and debate who resolves seemingly intractable issues between multiple parties with Solomon-like wisdom.  Though such resolutions are usually peaceful, Picard cam also be remarkably cunning and strategic when he needs to be.

Picard's ability to lead from behind and effectively empower people to improve their own work is what allows his team to solve the problems they face.  He only steps in to coach or guide.  He often hosts great problem solving "sessions" in his "ready room."  He allows for mistakes since he views them as opportunities for learning.

Picard also constantly pushes the limits of his ship and crew and listens carefully to all his advisors (Guinan in particular).  He solvs problems by asking questions at the gemba.  Sounds logical to me… wait that's someone else.

I'm willing to bet that when most Americans hear the word "sensei" they think "Mr. Miyagi" ("Wax on, wax off").  That teen drama in many ways helped an entire generation learn how to learn, perhaps opening their minds to seeing new ways of doing things.

Mr. Miyagi was not interested in glory, just balance.  He had very little interest in the color of your belt "Belt mean no need rope to hold up pants."  No offense to my Six-Sigma friends!  He often said karate is for self-defense only, so the glory of a tournament victory wasn't his goal.

He gets value (chores done) while developing strength and muscle memory.  Paint the fence - Paint house - Wax the car - Sand the floor.  I use this all the time to explain real importance of 5S (conditioning for kaizen).  It is very similar to Mike Rother's Coaching Kata idea: Keep practicing new things/methods until they feel natural.

Identifying root cause is crucial in the film, and Miyagi focuses his energy on helping his student learn to see the true root cause.

Miyagi: Problem: attitude.
Daniel: No the problem is, I'm getting my [butt] kicked every other day, that's the problem.
Miyagi: Hai, because boys have bad attitude.  Karate for defense only.
Daniel: That's not what these guys are taught.
Miyagi: Hai – can see.  No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher.  Teacher say, student do.

See how he was able to show that the kids' attitudes weren't the real problem?

The downside with Mr. Miyagi is that he often just told Daniel what to do instead of asking questions and letting him find his own answers.  There was no disrespect, but there wasn't a lot of deep understanding going on either.

Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Jean-Luc Picard
Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV & Film)
 
49%
Mr. Miyagi
The Karate Kid (Film)
 
51%
Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid)

Match-up #4

Neo

The Matrix (Film)

vs.

Willy Wonka

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Film)

The character Neo from the film The Matrix took the ultimate gemba walk.  His entire journey was "go and see."

First, he unplugs himself, taking himself out of his comfort zone (his entire life).  Think about that for a second...in a lot of ways that's what lean transformation is about: taking yourself out of the comfortable routine, the way you always do things, and trying things differently.  Changing the way you think, work, and interact.

Neo conducts root cause analysis in order to work out what truly exists as opposed to what the machines portray as reality.  How many questions does he ask in the entire movie?  More than you can count.  He was also a change agent, using the matrix to overcome barriers to achieve his goal.

Kids may think candy is made through magic, but in a lot of ways, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was an entire generation's first exposure to manufacturing.  For the purpose of this tournament, let's look at Willy Wonka from both the 1971 and 2005 films.

In the beginning of both films we see the factory creating chocolates.  One-piece flow is evident, there's no extra inventory, and all candy is transferred directly into "milk run" size vehicles all destined for specific locations with just the right amount in each truck.  This is Lean in action.

A lot of what Wonka chooses to do in his factory also serves multiple goals.  One is quality and another is to thwart industrial espionage.  Instead of enacting levels upon levels of security, he makes things in a manner that no competitor can steal.  Sort of like the way Toyota makes cars and invites their competitors to tour their plants.

Wonka also creates a culture of problem solving, with a passion for quality.  The Oompa-Loompas may have been having fun, but they were all business, too.

Neo (The Matrix)
Neo
The Matrix (Film)
 
31%
Willy Wonka
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Film)
 
69%
Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

This tournament is almost over, thank you for your participation.  Next week the final 4 characters duke it out for a spot in the finals.

There have been some surprising upsets, in this tournament.  Going in I would have thought it would have been Walter White from Breaking Bad vs. Dexter Morgan from Dexter in the finals, due to their dedication to standard work, 5S, and the ability to improvise with the items they had around them.  Now with both losing out early in the tournament, its anyone’s game.

In case you missed it, here’s a snapshot of the full tournament brackets. Download as a PDF

Download bracktes as PDF file

Tell your friends and colleagues. Tweet#leanscreen

(The copyright for the images used as part of the series are held by the image right holders. LEI makes no copyright claim on these images.)

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
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