Weekend Fun: An Example of Poor Problem Solving


Here's a funny ESPN commercial featuring golfer Rickie Fowler.

Fowler is pouring coffee, yet he makes some bad assumptions about which coffee is decaf and about the “milk” being bad (compounded by the joke that he's supposedly color blind).

I guess if there's any Lean lesson, it's that we can be at the “gemba” and that doesn't guarantee problem solving success if we don't understand the situation, if we have faulty mental models… and if we're not listening to others.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. His latest book has been released as an "in-progress" book, titled Measures of Success.

    1. Mark Graban says

      I love the video, in part, because it makes me think of problems that people run into when they can’t see reality in the workplace due to some mental model getting in the way (not color blindness getting in the way). The “spoiled milk” is obviously orange juice to some, but leaders don’t take input or don’t take care to make sure their mental models aren’t out of whack.

  1. Chad Walters
    Chad Walters says

    I don’t think he’s genuinely colorblind. He’s just obsessed
    with all things orange. As a former Oklahoma State Cowboy golfer he
    dons bright orange golf outfits to honor his school. However, the
    message about going to the gemba to see the situation live is
    solid. I wonder if his favorite singer is Frank Sinatra.

  2. Mark Graban says

    From Ron Phipps on LinkedIn:

    Learning to see is a profound change in how people think about their work. Seeing from the new lens is powerful. The challenge to manager s in charge is to lead by allowing the opportunities they now see to be tried and learned from. Understanding is distinctly different than being there. Real understanding needs to be sought for from multiple perspectives (people, perceptions, realities, processes, needs, issues, ideas, interactions, causes, effects, strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, values, purpose, reasons, etc.). Doing so cultivates trust, inspires and changes behaviors that create a new culture/ environment. Results and sustainability are easier.

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