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The Finals! Who's the Leanest in TV and Film

by Joshua Rapoza
January 8, 2014

The Finals! Who's the Leanest in TV and Film

by Joshua Rapoza
January 8, 2014 | Comments (1)

Have the lean TV and film characters we’ve identified given you examples of lean thinking in practice? Perhaps.

Have you agreed with folks’ nominations? Disagreed? Was this experimentation a waste of your time?

However you feel about it, good. Because it made you think about Lean in a different way. We wanted to have people to look for teachable, relatable aspects of Lean because we hear from a lot of folks that while this lean stuff is pretty interesting, it’s also really hard and it doesn’t always feel so relatable.

To me, Lean has always been about passion. A passion to make things better (add value), regardless of position, power, or experience. It’s about asking questions and not giving up at the first answer, but digging deeper. It’s about getting one second faster, 10 seconds faster, a day faster, weeks, months… and then sustaining that gain.

It’s not about apologizing for making mistakes, but working together to solve problems. A situation where there is “no problem” is a problem, because “no problem” doesn’t exist in the real world. “No problem” means you’re not looking close enough, or someone is really good at hiding problems. Neither of these are good things.

Did you see any of these aspects in the tournament characters?

Below is the FINAL match up, TV’s most ornery doctor versus every child of the 80s favorite sensei. Both have important lessons to teach us (seriously!).

Now it’s time for you to determine who is the leanest of them all. Vote below and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.

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.

Mr. Miyagi

The Karate Kid (Film)

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.

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’s 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.

Gregory House, M.D. (House)
Gregory House, M.D.
House (TV)
 
57%
Mr. Miyagi
The Karate Kid (Film)
 
43%
Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid)

So, who do you think it is?  Who best exemplifies lean thinking and practice?  House or Mr. Miyagi?  It’s a tough call, but we’ve made it this far–we’ve got to choose one.  Tell us, who will be the victor?  And this whole experiment?  We wouldn’t be Lean if we didn’t ask: Why?

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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