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No Such Thing As a Funny Lean Joke?

by Joshua Rapoza
March 28, 2014

No Such Thing As a Funny Lean Joke?

by Joshua Rapoza
March 28, 2014 | Comments (22)

While at this year’s Lean Transformation Summit in Orlando, I spent my nights at the hotel bar, drinking milk and eating cookies. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. During that time I sat and talked with lots of attendees, speakers, and other near-do-wells (kidding). 

In all seriousness, one of the conversations that came up was lean jokes, a topic that seems close to the heart of Mark Graban (@markgraban). Everyone was trying to come up with one that was funny, but nothing resulted in more than a pity laugh. I know pity laughs when I hear them… I’m married.

A trick that I’ve learned at work is to add humor whenever and wherever possible, particularly in communication. It’s a great way to build morale and if you’re sending email, a great way to tell if someone actually read what you wrote. The laugh you hear across the office, or the smirk you get when you walk by—it gets remembered.

Not everyone is funny, I get that. And I’m not saying we should all hire joke writers to motivate our teams. But adding some emotion, levity, something besides the work at hand, helps create an environment for good communication. Just make sure you listen twice as much as you speak (I don’t know the ratio of humor to listening yet). 

So here is my challenge to you, the lean community at large… Share a lean joke that will actually make us laugh. Please note we need to keep this clean and puns are a crime against humanity. They’re just awful.

For extra points, tell us a funny or memorable moment from your experience doing Lean. 

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
Keywords:  culture,  musings
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22 Comments | Post a Comment
Barry March 28, 2014
5 People AGREE with this comment
Two lean practitioners walk into a bar....oh wait, no they can't, their too busy working 24/7 and coaching others to try to make our businesses a better place to work. 

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TK in VT March 28, 2014
3 People AGREE with this comment
I’ve always thought that Poka-Yoke would make a pretty good band name.  Then again, folks might confuse it with Polka-Yoko – a dangerous musical genre entirely immune to even the most vigorous mistake-proofing efforts.  You think you’re just rolling out the barrel, but you’re actually breaking up The Beatles

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Mark Graban March 28, 2014
1 Person AGREES with this reply

There was a funny (actually funny, I think) brainstorming of "lean band names" in this blog post:

http://www.leanblog.org/2012/02/weekend-fun-quality-related-band-names/

Including "Fleetwood Womack."

There's also a lot of "groan worthy" humor from my friend Dr. Les Muda (www.doctormuda.com). I think he's funnier in writing than he is on stage or in video :-)

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Michael Ballé March 28, 2014
4 People AGREE with this comment
Oh No

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Mark Graban March 28, 2014
5 People AGREE with this comment
That picture... you can't share that picture, Josh, and not give us any background or the story behind it. 

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Danielle McGuiness March 28, 2014
7 People AGREE with this comment
Am I your true north or your current situation? #leandatin

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Dan Cashman April 01, 2014
1 Person AGREES with this reply
Hey, we all did a little rapid experimenting in college. 

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Jay March 28, 2014
1 Person AGREES with this comment
I'm having trouble thinking of a lean joke at the moment, but the overall topic makes me think of my old pal Yoram Bauman, who has been wonderfully successful at integrating his economics career with a stand-up comedian career

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Josh Bigler March 29, 2014
4 People AGREE with this comment

Customer: I ordered my eggs sunny side up!

Manager:  I'm sorry sir, but we have implemented poka yoke, it is no longer possible to have eggs sunny side up. 

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Bart March 30, 2014
9 People AGREE with this comment

I read this a few years ago...

 

The Lean guru was fielding questions after his seminar had wowed the attendees. 

"So, have you tried using Lean at home?"

He thought for a minute, and said, "Yes, there was once.  My wife was spending a lot of time bringing different things to the table for dinner. First the ketchup, then the salad dressing, then the plates, etc, all with separate trips.   I suggested that she smooth out her process, save valuable time, motion, and transporation, by putting all the condiments on a tray, and bringing them to the source all with one trip."

The inquiring attendee followed up, "So did it save time?"

The guru shook his head, and then said, "Yes, it used to take her 30 minutes to prepare the meal.  Now, it only takes ME 10."

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Yu david March 30, 2014
2 People AGREE with this reply
this is why my wife always gave me positive comments to my cooking food, or she should prepare it. she is always so clever

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Mark R March 30, 2014
8 People AGREE with this comment
Two international businessmen, one from GM, one from Toyota, are traveling together to a conference when they both get kidnapped. The kidnappers demand a ransom from each of their companies for their return, each of which declines to pay. They are then told they have one final wish before death. The guy from Toyota says he'd like to give his last hour-long speech on the virtues of the Toyota Production System and Lean Manufacturing. The kidnappers say they can grant that wish. They then turn to the guy from GM and ask the same question to which the GM guy answers - "If I hear one more word about how great Toyota is, I'll shoot myself so you might as well shoot me before this guy starts talking.

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Brent L March 31, 2014
3 People AGREE with this reply

The Optimist sees the glass as half full.  The Pessimist sees the glass as half empty.  The Lean Practiioner sees the glass as two times bigger than it needs to be.

(can't claim that one, as I heard it long ago)



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Steve April 10, 2014
3 People AGREE with this reply
Hmm... I'd have thought the lean practitioner might drink from the sink to remove transportation, inventory, waiting, or overproduction..

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Chris March 31, 2014
1 Person AGREES with this reply
I thought the GM response would logically be, "and I would like the time to turn GM around to follow that TPS model.

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Anthony Manos March 31, 2014
4 People AGREE with this comment

The optimist says the glass is half full.

The pessimist says the glass is half empty.

The lean champion says the glass is twice a big as it needs to be.

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Ken Hunt March 31, 2014
5 People AGREE with this comment
Josh,

Based on the comments I am seeing, you can take the question mark away from this post's title.      :-


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Zachary Spiller March 31, 2014
1 Person AGREES with this comment

My guess is that there isn't a good way to make a truly funny joke about any sort of business methodology. You're pretty much guaranteed to get groans, or "pity laughs" at best.


Having said that, it's quite possible for lean practitioners to be funny and clever. I just wouldn't start expecting laughs when you bust out gemba one-liners.

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Dan Cashman April 01, 2014
7 People AGREE with this comment

Ok I'll bite, here goes a few...

Boss: Listen, John, we're gonna have to let you go. You've honestly just been spending way too much time on bathroom breaks.
Lean facilitator: What???? How can this be? When you hired me you told me eliminating waste should be my #1 priority!!! 

 

Lean Facilitator 1: Hey whatcha doing this weekend?

Lean Facilitator 2: I'm gonna go buy as many pairs of jeans as I can while there's still time.

Lean Facilitator 1: Oh, ok. Something I should know about?

Lean Facilitator 2: Didn't you hear the new sensei? He said we are going to identify all the Gaps around here and close them!!!



Q: What's the sensei's favorite car?

A: An Audi A3

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Neil Andal March 31, 2015
2 People AGREE with this comment

Lean Facilitator 1 (who made it through Boston's winter): Hey, what did you do this weekend?

Lean Facilitator 2 (also from Boston): Well, instead of walking my dog during the winter, I just let my dog out in the backyard. Now that all of the snow has melted, I finally got around to picking up the mess.

Lean Facilitator 1: Oh, that sound like batch and poo.

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Steven Thomson April 27, 2017

I just spent the last two days at a workshop on Liberating Lean. The focus was on building healthy groups and organizations as we develop the capacity to improve processes and performance. In that spirit, I want to offer this bit of Lean humor.

How do you compliment a Lean practitioner who is working on their ‘people side’ skills?

Tell them their tact time is increasing.



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Don Scott July 11, 2017

well...this sure is an old post, but...


CEO: Why is this machine running so slowly?

LEAN GUY: That's easy. Because the waste machine is running so fast... And only one can be turned up at a time.

CEO: Where is the waste machine? And who is running it?

LEAN GUY: Well, it's a big machine...it starts at the receiving dock, runs through the plant and the office and ends at shipping. And from what I observe, you are the senior operator.

CEO: I don't think we'll be requiring your services any longer.






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