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It's the Final Four in the Who's Lean in TV & Film Tournament!

by Joshua Rapoza
December 18, 2013

It's the Final Four in the Who's Lean in TV & Film Tournament!

by Joshua Rapoza
December 18, 2013 | Comments (1)

So here we are the Leanest of the Leanest in TV and Film voted on by you, the lean community.

Yes, this is not a deep thinking exercise, but did it make you think? Did it make you look for relatable lean actions you can share? That’s really the goal of this experiment: to find relatable, shareable examples of Lean from what people see every day.

This week’s winners will go on to the finals, to determine just who is the leanest TV or film character. Make sure you vote in each match up!

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.

Sheldon Cooper

The Big Bang Theory (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.

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).

Gregory House, M.D. (House)
Gregory House, M.D.
House (TV)
 
52%
Sheldon Cooper
The Big Bang Theory (TV)
 
48%
Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)

Match-up #2

Mr. Miyagi

The Karate Kid (Film)

vs.

Willy Wonka

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Film)

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.

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.

Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid)
Mr. Miyagi
The Karate Kid (Film)
 
58%
Willy Wonka
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Film)
 
42%
Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Thank you for voting.  This tournament had been a lot of fun, and filled with surprises.  We will have the final vote in the first week of January.  Stay tuned...

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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1 Comment | Post a Comment
Susan January 02, 2014
1 Person AGREES with this comment
This tournament has provided easily understood examples of lean behaviors, tools and priciples. Love it

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