Mark Graban's leanblog.org - Lean Healthcare, Lean Hospitals, Healthcare Kaizen, Lean Thinking, Lean Manufacturing, Toyota Production System

Why Lean Manufacturing… is Less Fun Than Google Autocomplete?

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There's a fun game you can play online in your browser… and it's free.

Start typing a phrase into the Google search box (or into the top bar of your Chrome browser, as I tend to do).

The “autocomplete” suggestions from Google give some sense of what people are searching for, among other factors.

Somebody even created a game called “Google Feud,” similar to “Family Feud,” as you can read about in this article about autocomplete.

For example, typing “who was the first” leads to some interesting suggestions:

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If we start playing this game with Lean-related terms, it quickly takes a dark and negative turn:

“Why lean manufacturing…”

  • fails?
  • doesn't work?
  • does not work?
  • is important

Yikes, three of those four are negative, even if two of them are basically the same thing.

Are people searching for phases about Lean and failure because they're being negative (or having negative experiences with what might be L.A.M.E. instead of Lean)? Or because they're being proactive and trying to prevent problems? There is a book on How to Prevent Lean Implementation Failures, but I'm not sure people are searching for that rather obscure book.

Searching for a similar phrase about lean healthcare only brings up a negative response about failure:

If we try “what” instead of “why,” the terms show which Lean methods are being searched for… it's more a list of concepts than anything negative or positive:

Starting with “what are” brings up this list:

“Where” also brings up the failure search:

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And if we try “how,” the phrase “backfire” comes up:

Here is a post that talks about “lean backfiring” (or was it L.A.M.E.?):

Be Careful With “No Waiting Rooms” Just Like “Zero Inventories”

If we try searches on some of the more common Lean methods, there's some negativity about 5S being a “waste of time.”

It can be, if done poorly:

A search about six sigma doesn't bring up negativity:

Not does the “how” search:

I'm not trying to turn this into a huge waste of time for anybody at work. It does look like you're doing research :-)

Do you find any surprising autocomplete suggestions related to Lean?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and 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 an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

4 Comments
  1. Sam Selay says

    You sparked my curiosity. I “typed in why is lean” in my google search bar and got bad, dangerous, illegal. Hmm…However, as you did when you typed “why is six sigma” the results were much different. I’m not trying to compare the two, but wondering why is there such a big difference in the results?

    1. Mark Graban says

      I’m always happy to spark curiosity!

      Part of the confusion when searching for “Lean” instead of “Lean manufacturing” is that you get results related to an illegal street drug called “Lean.”

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