Skip to main content

Lean Lessons At the Movies

Lean Articles

Quoting movie dialog is a big thing in my family.  I am not sure how it started, but we do it often.  Last week at a SMED training session, an attendee was reeling off movie lines to his team members.  As you might imagine, I liked him immediately!  We had a great week of learning, improving and talking movies.  It occurred to me that many famous movie lines can be tied to Lean lessons.  Here are just a few I’ve connected…

  • “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  You will get some resistance along the way…don’t be discouraged, this is perfectly normal.  Educate people about the effort and how it will affect them.  Encourage involvement and ideas from everyone.
  • “Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”  Don’t expect to get it 100% right the first time.  Change is never an easy process.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Celebrate the wins and learn from the misses.
  • “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”  Communication is the key to making progress and sustaining.  Communicate, communicate, communicate!
  • “Show me the money.”  Make a business case for all proposed improvement events and quantify all event outcomes.  Articulating a business case will help ensure your efforts are tied to organizational goals and monetizing your improvement results will help others see the return on the investment and ease the way for future projects.
  • “You can’t handle the truth.”  Our production processes don’t lie…they convey the health of production all day, every day.  Is your production exceeding demand, or falling short?  What’s causing the disparity?   Lean is data-driven.  Study your production process to reveal truths about your operation.  Never assume you know what the issues are. Get out in the workplace, study the process, and uncover the real truth – it just might set you free!
  • “Houston, we have a problem.”  And that’s a good thing because problems provide opportunities for improvement.  A continuous improvement environment is problematic.  Arm your value-adders with an easy-to-use problem-solving technique so problems don’t impede their improvement progress.

Please send in your favorite movie quotes and the lean lessons they support.  And, we welcome news on your implementation progress. We are always excited to hear what you are working on, succeeding at, or tripping over.  (Sometimes I think we learn more from tripping than from anything else!)  Keep an eye out for our next post…“I’ll be back”…soon!

Maureen C. Fahey, Managing Partner –

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Gone with the Wind1939 David O. Selznick film * “Fasten your seatbelts.  It’s going to be a bumpy night.” All About  Eve 1950 Darryl F. Zanuck film. * “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”  Cool Hand Luke  1967 Gordon Carroll film. * “Show me the money.” Jerry Maguire 1996 Cameron Crowe, James L. Brooks, Laurence Mark, Richard Sakai film. * ”You can’t handle the truth.” A Few Good Men 1992 David Brown, Rob Reiner, Andrew Sheinman film.  * “Houston, we have a problem.”  Apollo 13 1995 Brian Grazer film.