“The Rock” Says Getting Lean is Something Anybody Can Do… If You Work At It


Today's Post in <50 Words: Why did “The Rock” and his movie make me think about Lean? Are many individuals (or organization's) willing to put time into continuous improvement every day for 20 years? If so, the results and “after” picture seem astonishing, right?

Not too long ago, I had a lot of time to kill during an international flight. I watched the comedy “Central Intelligence” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart. The movie was fine… it had it's moments and it passed the time.

One moment in the movie made me think of Lean and an organization's transformation (of course it did, right?).

In the movie, The Rock's character looks like… well… The Rock as we've come to know him:

Part of the comedic setup of the film is that his character, “Bob,” was very overweight in high school and was picked on for that (cruelly so… there's nothing funny about the bullying he faced, although the movie tried to get laughs out of it).

He looked like this early on in the movie (thanks to CGI animation):

The Rock played college football and wasn't really any heavier than he is today in real life.

In the movie, when Bob returns to his home town some 20 years later, he has totally transformed his character's body.

Kevin Hart's character asks him how he transformed his body.

Bob says:

“I just did one thing… I worked out for six hours a day, every day, for the last 20 years.”

I can't find a clip online, but I thought he also said (or Kevin Hart's character said, comically):

“I mean, anybody can do it, right?”

I guess anybody CAN do it. But who has six hours a day for the gym? Who has the energy to do so? Who has the need to do so?

When people look at organizations like Toyota or ThedaCare, they're often caught staring at an “after” picture in a “before and after” scenario. Dwayne Johnson has to keep working out and eating right, just as organizations have to keep improving and have to keep doing the things that made them very successful.

People often want short cuts… easy answers… silver bullets… instant pudding.

Mmmmmm…. instant pudding.

Many organizations want to be like ThedaCare or Toyota, but they want the result, sometimes without putting in the effort.

Or, they are like people who go to the gym and pretend to work out, basically. Just like some organizations put up “Lean boards” and pretend to have huddles. Wearing the workout gear and carrying a water bottle (or having a board) doesn't mean you're necessarily putting the right effort into improvement.

Toyota and ThedaCare are very humble. They don't claim to be smarter than the average competitor in their industry. They've just both been VERY diligent. They've put in the work… Toyota for about 70 years and ThedaCare for about 15.

Franciscan St. Francis Health has been “in the improvement gym” improving every day for about 10 years. They'd also say “anybody can do it.” But, are you willing to put in the effort?

It doesn't even require six hours a day.

Come visit Franciscan this May to see what a culture of continuous improvement looks like. I don't think you'll be frightened like the idea of working out six hours a day. What's hard… but achievable… is the EVERY DAY part.

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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.


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