Hoaxer Asks Companies about Lean


Analyze This: Hoaxer Haunts Earnings Calls – WSJ.com

Some guy (not me) has been spoofing his way onto companies' investor / analyst calls, asking questions about Lean and Six Sigma. He's using a fake name and uses a lot of jargon, but companies find it more annoying than funny and nobody's sure what the point is.

One company rep “speculates that Mr. Herrick is “some minion” at a consulting firm trying to do clandestine research on companies' use of Six Sigma techniques.

Mr. Herrick's questions are usually narrowly focused on details of a company's results from well-known cost-savings techniques such as “lean management” and Six Sigma, or else supply-chain issues. They're virtually the same on each call, and he often follows up aggressively. In the Newell Rubbermaid call, Mr. Herrick asked the company's president and chief executive, Mark Ketchum, to outline his “top initiatives regarding lean manufacturing” and Six Sigma.

I guess real analysts aren't asking about Lean or Six Sigma?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. His cold calling + aggressive follow ups lead me to believe he’s more of a sales person than researcher – attempting to find a match for what his company/consulting firm offers and what some other company wants to do with lean.

    I’m not against that, a lot of good b2b can be conducted by saying “Hey, you seem interested in doing y and let me help you with that. Are you also interested in doing this related thing x? Because I’ve got a great little product to help you do x.”
    This, however, seems over the top and a tad ridiculous.

    I’ve always found pushy, aggressive sales a major deterrent to my actual purchasing, but then again, that’s probably why I ended up an analyst.

  2. Ha. Sorry.
    I couldn’t load the WSJ, reading through the entire article (as opposed to your quote) this just seems amusing.

    Perhaps a bored junior analyst at a firm somewhere?


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