Sunil Kaushik, a fellow Influential Voices blogger recently wrote about how he practiced lean principles to travel to Egypt (you can read about his excellent experience here). His blog opened a great topic for this month´s respond: “how to apply our profession in our daily life”.
That triggered an old “mental exercise” about creating a work related comic or sitcom. Many of our daily work experiences can either be compared with an old “Twilight Zone” episode, or something out of “The Office” British and American sitcoms. So a couple of folks and I talked one afternoon about creating a work related TV show, of course we knew nothing about TV producing, but that did not stop us from escaping our responsibilities of that day and wasting a whole afternoon creating “Hard Work” the sitcom. We even created the main characters and gave them meaningful names related mostly to their skills (or lack of them). So let me introduce the characters of “Hard Work” and their general profiles. The original names are in Spanish so I will try to complement them with a similar name in English. There is no intention of being disrespectful to anybody. Here they are.
ROGELIO PROMEDIO. Average Roger. He is a company analyst who uses averages for everything. He has good intentions but lacks real analysis tools so he sticks to the average formula he learned in a statistics class long ago. He is a little overweight; he is close to 30 years old and spends most of his time in the company.
ALBERTO PORCIENTO. Percentage Albert. A recent graduate from a local state university, He was hired to help Roger. Albert explains everything with percentages. He is very young and elegant and also sticks to his sole analysis tool, percentages.
VILMA SIGMA. No problem here, same name in English. Recently hired as corporate Black Belt. She resembles very much Velma Dinkley from Scooby Doo. She is nerdy, very smart, has a broad Black Belt toolbox, and always wears martial arts uniforms. Part of her job is to train and convince Roger and Albert that there are more analysis tools beyond averages and percentages.
SAMANTA ESBELTA. We will call her Samantha Lean. She is a lean enterprise expert, ready to create value streams in the whole operation. She looks like a personal trainer and wears gym attire all the time, her wide eyes tell how “visual” she is and her common sense prevails over Roger and Albert weak conclusions.
LLORENTE GERENTE. Crying Boss. Our general manager literally cries for everything that happens in the operation. He rejects Vilma’s “too complex” explanation of problems, and refuses to “gemba walk” with Samantha, because he is to busy taking care of costs and revenues.
CUSUKO CHINGO. Our most important character, no translation to English needed. “Cusuco” (with “c”) is slang for armadillo in certain Latin American countries, and “Chingo” is slang for naked, specially in Central America, but it also means failure, and even “a lot” in Mexico and other countries. Introducing for the first time the concepts of the great, and very real. Dr. Shigeo Shingo to someone in Latin America always causes unintended laughs and second thoughts (there is no official “sh” sound in Spanish, so Shingo and Chingo sound very similar). Our fictional Cusuko Chingo is an ancient and immortal Japanese quality guru who appears to Vilma and Samantha in desperate times. He always has the right advice to our quality minded girls.
We went as far as asking a friend to draw the characters (and there you have them next to each description). All our characters were based on actual people we knew. All but Cusuko Chingo, who is a combination of Master Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yoda from Star Wars, Deming, Juran and Ishikawa, Shingo himself of course, and he looks like an old armadillo.
We all have people like these in our companies, or maybe we are all a little like them, so we should help each other all the time and make our daily experiences better and better each day. Distorting a quote by Mark Twain “Life is stranger than fiction”.