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Vote! Who's More Lean: MacGyver, House, ... Snoopy?

by Joshua Rapoza
October 25, 2013

Vote! Who's More Lean: MacGyver, House, ... Snoopy?

by Joshua Rapoza
October 25, 2013 | Comments (5)

First off I want to thank you all for your great “Who’s Lean in TV & Film” nominations. Here’s how the tournament will work. Each week we’ll take a portion of the tournament and you’ll get to vote on who you think is more lean. The winners of the vote will then move on to the next phase of the tournament.

Here’s a snapshot of the tournament brackets, feel free to share it with your colleagues. Download as a PDF

Download bracktes as PDF file

When people were nominating characters we asked them to include their thoughts for the nomination. Below is a summary of what people submitted, it may sway your vote one way or the other.

So let’s get started. Your opinion counts! Let us know your thoughts on the matchups in the comments below.

leanscreen

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

Match-up #1

MacGyver

MacGyver (TV)

vs.

Gregory House, M.D.

House (TV)

MacGyver was the epitome of “creativity before capital.”  Think about how often he used the materials he had at hand in a new way.  He was all about quick and crude, he could build almost anything out of nothing, and he got the job done.  His knowledge base and attention to detail in a physical space could save your life.

Plus, MacGyver was totally aware of the current situation, eyes open to what was available to him.  He invented simple tools to do just what was needed when it was needed, and he was completely focused on the goal (aka desired future state).

(He’s so good; he doesn’t even lose points for having a mullet.)

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.

MacGyver (MacGyver)
MacGyver
MacGyver (TV)
 
43%
Gregory House, M.D.
House (TV)
 
57%
Gregory House, M.D. (House)

Match-up #2

Kwai Chang Caine

Kung Fu (TV)

vs.

Juror #8 (Henry Fonda)

12 Angry Men (Film)

Kwai Chang Caine lived a minimalist life of efficiency and effectiveness.  His movement and temperament were conservative (he chose his words very carefully), and he always increased his own capacity when the situation called for it.

His effort and output always matched the environment.  His efforts always satisfied the voice of the “customer.”  He represented a philosophy of one piece flow and just-in-time living.  Eliminating the need for excess supplies or holding of finished goods, he carried only what he needed and consumed only what was required.

Not one for sitting idly, Caine always went to where the work was taking place every day.  He was always on the move and when he stopped, he stopped to fix something.  He passed wisdom along to everyone he met, actively engaged in dialogue with people, and quickly implemented process improvements.

Henry Fonda’s character is a true lean coach.  In 12 Angry Men, he guides 11 other jury members to the facts, and guides them to solve a problem.  The problem is real, and a man’s life is in the balance.

Juror #8 keeps asking questions, about the evidence and of the other jurors to help create clarity and build consensus.  In nearly every conversation, he helps someone understand what the facts are and what is an assumption based upon prejudices.  Even when pressed by the majority to just finish the job and move on, he does not relent.  Taking the easy path would have meant not doing the job right.

Kwai Chang Caine (Kung Fu)
Kwai Chang Caine
Kung Fu (TV)
 
61%
Juror #8 (Henry Fonda)
12 Angry Men (Film)
 
39%
Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) (12 Angry Men)

Match-up #3

Al Borland

Home Improvement (TV)

vs.

The Soup Nazi

Seinfeld (TV)

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.

The Soup Nazi from Seinfeld is one of the most popular TV characters of all time.  Considering he was only in a handful of episodes he’s made quite an impression.  As crazy as he was, he did implement a standard process to deliver a high-quality product the same way every time.  And this was standardized work with no nonsense (wasted) process steps.  There was no need for small talk and chit chat (all waste!).  And he made an excellent product people actually wanted to buy.

More than this, customers had to follow the order process precisely or the line stopped.  There was a well-defined SOP for ordering.  The most important thing was to keep the line moving.  Not so lean, but the line stopped if there was a defect and the defect got addressed.  This is lean!  “Hold out your money,” “Speak your soup in loud, clear voice,” “Step to the left,” “Receive soup,” “No embellishing (comments or questions)!”

However, he does fail a bit in the VOC department!  “No Soup for You!!!”

Al Borland (Home Improvement)
Al Borland
Home Improvement (TV)
 
66%
The Soup Nazi
Seinfeld (TV)
 
34%
The Soup Nazi (Seinfeld)

Match-up #4

Snoopy

Peanuts Specials (TV)

vs.

Jake Sully

Avatar (Film)

Snoopy totally embodies lean thinking as he is well known for looking for the easy way to do things, thinking outside the box, creativity, and generally being supportive of his friends.  NASA has even named an award after him, an honor given to those who achieve “safety and mission success.”

He’s also used as a mascot for communications.

Jake worked urgently with what he had at hand.  There was no time to waste with the relative scarcity of resources.  He embraces the culture of harmony with the environment, in a natural cycle.  He confronts his obstacles/impediments/limitations and plucks up the courage to attempt significant step improvements.  On the whole, the film Avatar itself deals with setting goals, achieving them, and learning.  Not to mention there is loads of problem solving!

Snoopy (Peanuts Specials)
Snoopy
Peanuts Specials (TV)
 
77%
Jake Sully
Avatar (Film)
 
23%
Jake Sully (Avatar)

Thank you for your votes.  Tune in next week for another 8 characters going head to head. 

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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5 Comments | Post a Comment
James Spiegel October 25, 2013
2 People AGREE with this comment

OK, so I get that this is supposed to be fun. Most of these aren't Lean in any way. LEI is the "Institute", responsible for defining and keeping the definition from getting muddled. This article does not help.

Please add a button for "Not Helpful" since none of the 4 below apply.

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Kevin Philips October 25, 2013
I couldn't disagree more James. Leaders need develop their teams by identifying the capabilities that they want on their team. Many times there have been traits to characters that show up in books and in films that I say to myself I want that person on my team.


I've often used pop-culture like this to help my team and teams from other areas in the company to identify the behavior and mindset for problem solving. It creates a great starting point for conversations about problems and solving them.


Speaking to people in terms they understand is crucial, finding someone people can identify with, someone they have in common, often serves as the bridge to better understanding


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Renee Held October 25, 2013
2 People AGREE with this comment
This is going to be fun! Probably the most interesting thing about this exercise is to read about how people think and solve problems in differing ways

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Devin Reinbold October 25, 2013
I have to say that this is a very interesting game. Before this game started, I never really looked that close into how Lean movies and shows are. It is quite interesting to see the huge difference in characters and how they all seem to accomplish the same thing...Lean. Great game

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Gary Lieser March 25, 2014
I din't see the week two collection. Am i missing something?
Gar


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