There are some core concepts that we try to drive home day in and day out, directly or indirectly related to lean manufacturing. Respect for people, the real but unfortunately off balance sheet value of knowledge and experience, simplicity and efficiency, and the hidden perils of outsourcing.
These concepts can add value to all types of organizations beyond manufacturing, such as government, healthcare, and even education. Thanks to a tip from South African reader Martin, we may be able to add filmmaking to to that list.
Michael Bay has not exactly been the critics’ darling, but maybe that will change with the release of his latest summer blockbuster, Transformers. Budgeted shy of $200m, this adaptation of the popular toy and subsequent animated series is destined to be a bona fide hit if reaction at recent screenings is anything to go by.
Apparently it has, with global receipts of over $500m in the first month. The film industry has many of the same challenges as manufacturing… labor cost, access to labor, the growth of foreign film studies, unions, technology, and the like. I doubt Michael Bay knows much about lean manufacturing, but he does embrace some of its principles.
My secret is I shoot very, very fast. On average a director will shoot twenty set-ups a day. I do about seventy-five. And they’re real set-ups. It’s not like, we work twelve hour days. I don’t go overtime. But we work very hard. I work with my same crew. I gave 30% of my fee because they were going to ship me to Canada or Australia and I said ‘No, I want to shoot with my guys’. It’s a team that I’ve worked with for like close to sixteen years. And it’s just, you know, I like to keep the movies in Los Angeles if I could. And especially keep ’em in the States. We just save so much money because I have really good people. And I don’t know, we just make it an efficient day.
Short cycle time, quick setups, planned schedules to reduce overtime and fatigue, respect for the knowledge and experience of his crew to the point it was worth 30% of his fee. Saving money thanks to "really good people." It wouldn’t suprise me if some of their efficiency was driven by knowing exactly where everything they need is at all times (5S), reducing activities that don’t expressly have value, and ensuring equipment is maintained properly. Those types of activities are just common sense to people that understand the concepts that support lean, TPS, and any number of other examples of excellence.
Congrats to Bay for creating a blockbuster, a lean blockbuster.