More Than Grammar in This WSJ Grammar Quiz


Last week, my dad pointed out this grammar quiz on the Wall Street Journal website (as part of the article “This Embarrasses You and I*: Grammar Gaffes Invade the Office in an Age of Informal Email, Texting and Twitter.” We both scored 22 out of 22 on the quiz, as my dad and I know the headline should be “This Embarrasses You and Me” although that sounds wrong to many.

There was something embedded in the quiz that was more interesting (perhaps) than any grammar cop differences between affect and effect or you're and your. Two of the questions referred to leadership… and Lean concepts.

One of the questions referred to the main job of managers — to support their employees. This sounds like servant leadership, something that's a big part of the Lean philosophy.

Another question is related to Lean and the concept of “muri” or overburden:

When workloads and expectations are ridiculously high, morale suffers. In the Lean approach, we need to make sure we have the RIGHT staffing levels to meet customer needs and to allow people to do high quality work without being forced into cutting corners.

So, while the Wall St Journal usually gets it really wrong talking about Lean concepts, Mr. Jack Appleman, their grammar quiz writer, gets it, even if it's just “Like Lean.”

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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. Mark, you have a great eye for seeing Lean-related content! But “A” wasn’t the correct answer for the first one, correct? It should be manager’s. “The” implies singular, yes?

  2. Kudos to you for seeing the links to lean in the WSJ grammar quiz! To me, this issue is one of respect. if your communication is confusing, you waste people’s time. It’s not clear what you’re saying or what we’re supposed to do.


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