Which Money Heist Characters are your Six Sigma Project Team Members?
(Contains spoilers, read at your own risk).
As I have binge-watched the series, I have recognized that the characters of the show appear very similar to the different types of persons I have worked with in the past 16 years of Six Sigma practice.
Let us look at them one by one:
The Professor, similar to a competent Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, is a classic mastermind and strategist who is always 5 steps ahead of any situation he has planned. He is disciplined, smart, meticulous and has laser-focused determination to achieve his vision.
After crafting a plan, the professor recruited his dream team and rallied them towards a common goal. He made everyone follow a strict schedule and carefully planned with the team all possible scenarios that could happen in the heist. His competency and leadership traits-built trust to the plan.
The professor’s cool, calm, and collected attitude resolved team conflicts during the operation and brought everyone back to the plan. The same enabled the professor to make important decisions when situations went wrong.
Many fans despise Tokyo and consider her as the weakest link of the group. She is unpredictable, emotional, impulsive, and reckless that constantly placed herself and the team in trouble. Right at the start, she was the first to break the rules when she had an affair with Rio which made things more complicated. Her impulsive attitude resulted in the first shoot out with the cops that injured Rio. She and Berlin did not go along well, often questioned his decisions and most of the time followed her own way.
Fortunately, I have worked with few “Tokyos” in my Six Sigma projects. It is difficult to immediately detect if a team member is a “Tokyo” since they usually go along well with the team. After a while, because of act-before-you-think mindset, Tokyos begin to deviate from the plan and follow what he/ she thinks is better. Often it may result in problems since the Black Belt and other team members are not informed of the difference between what was planned and what the Tokyo implemented.
Despite having a negative image, a Tokyo truly cares for the goal and his/ her team members.
How to Manage a Tokyo
The first important thing a Black Belt should do is to detect if a person is a “Tokyo”. Once detected, the Black Belt should micro manage him/her. The Black Belt should regularly communicate, ask for his/her insights, and have at least once a week calibration session to ensure that the Tokyo’s thoughts and actions are still aligned with the team. A Six Sigma team could greatly benefit from an aligned Tokyo.
Leading and managing a Tokyo would definitely test a Black Belt’s communication, negotiation skills, and patience. It would be challenging but worth it.
A Berlin could be a typical Six Sigma Green Belt (on field Team Leader) who is competent, dependable, future-oriented, and could make immediate decisions that does not need inputs from The Professor.
He is smart, eloquent, calm, patient, and charming, which could make team members respect and follow his lead. Despite being arrogant and a narcissist, Berlin respected his colleagues and will do everything to save them.
How to Manage a Berlin
Minus the psychopathic tendencies, I could take on Berlins as my Six Sigma Green Belts/ Team Members. One important improvement of a Berlin is to work on their lack of empathy to team members and most specially process owners. Filipinos value personal relationships at work, and empathy plays a big part.
Rio, a skilled hacker, and tech expert, is the youngest and most naïve in the group. There was a part where he almost surrendered to the police but his feelings for Tokyo prevailed so he stayed.
How to Manage a Rio
Most Rios that I have seen in Six Sigma teams are millennials and rank and file employees. They are talented, gets along well with other team members, and insecure yet promising. They are your usual diamond in the rough. Most of them focus in the present which make them fail to see the bigger perspective.
A Rio does not need to be micro-managed like a Tokyo, but periodic calibration and immediate feedback are necessary to keep a Rio in check. A Black Belt has to make the Rio see how the Six Sigma project he is part of supports the strategies of the organizations. The Black Belt needs also to develop the talents of the Rio by giving him/ her opportunities to apply his strengths.
Both Oslo and Helsinki are war veterans and acted as the muscles of the group. Their intimidating looks maintained the order of the hostages. Both went along well with other team members.
How to Manage an Oslo & Helsinki
Both characters exude experience and dependability, a must for all Six Sigma teams. They are your usual experienced employees who have experienced many initiatives of the companies throughout their service in the organization. They have seen victories and failures which could either be an advantage or disadvantage to the team initiating changes.
A Black Belt must learn from the wisdom of the Oslos/Helsinkis but should not let past successes and failures dictate the directions of the Six Sigma team. A Black Belt must first get the buy in of the Oslo/ Helsinki and then take advantage of the internal connections of this team member. Assigning critical action items to an engaged Oslo/ Helsinki would almost always yield to a favorable outcome.
Moscow became a father figure not only to Denver but also to other characters like Tokyo and Rio. He was reasonable, voiced the truth, and acted as the conscience of the group. The team liked Moscow very much because of his caring and gentle attitude.
How to Manage a Moscow
Moscows are the typical veteran employees of the company. They are full of wisdom, lovable, and everyone treats them with respect. A Moscow may not hold a high position in the organization, but colleagues value their opinions.
A Black Belt’s first priority in managing Six Sigma projects is to get the buy-in of the Executive Sponsor. The second is to identify and recruit your Moscows or opinion leaders (Rogers, 1962). By enlisting and getting the support of a Moscow, a Black Belt could easily get the critical mass he/ she needs to implement the changes.
Denver to me is a male version of Tokyo. His father, Moscow, complained in the beginning that his son is not clever enough and cannot spend his life making his own decisions. He is the hot-headed and emotional person who fell in love with pregnant hostage Monica.
How to Manage a Denver
I have only met one Denver as a team member. He told the team he was forced to join by his Manager and had multiple heated arguments with me and other team members. My advice is to avoid having a Denver in your team. Look for other resource persons that could replace a Denver and you’ll save significant hours of work.
Nairobi was the outgoing, street-smart, tough-talking forgery expert that was tasked to oversee the printing of money. She was disciplined, empathetic, and showed impulsive behaviors by taking the lead from Berlin when things went out of control.
How to Manage a Nairobi
I would always take a Nairobi as a Six Sigma team member. She is dependable, practical and always deliver great work. To manage a Nairobi well, a Black Belt should always display confidence, and make sure to show that he/ she is in control of the situation. If there are conflicts with a Nairobi, a one on one candid conversation is a must to iron-out disagreements. Otherwise, the Nairobi could slowly undermine the work of the team.
Arturo was the Director of the Royal Mint of Spain before the great robbery. He is the most hated and most annoying person on this TV series which made him an interesting character. He talked too much, and attempted several times to lead a revolt and escape the heist but failed and placed the other hostages in danger. After the first season, he wrote a book, became famous by portraying himself as a hero. Despite being an arrogant and self-centered person, Arturo was able to influence the crowd (co-hostages and later his book audiences) and made them act towards a common goal.
How to Manage an Arturito
I have seen many variations of Arturito in a Six Sigma team. Multiple times as Project Sponsors, and often as team members. Most Arturo are extroverts and master storytellers that charm and move people. A Black Belt should capitalize on the influence of an Executive Sponsor Arturo by giving him/ her the spotlight to rally team members and process owners toward an objective. This is very important specially in the Define phase.
Be cautious of an Arturito hi-jacking Six Sigma projects. I have experienced it twice. One time, an Executive Sponsor Arturito pretended to cooperate in a defect reduction project initiated by the company’s Management Committee. When he was given control, he re-focused the scope of the project away from his Division. He wanted outsiders out of his silo. The second time, another Arturito Project Sponsor refused to sponsor a project I proposed. A month later, he started an exact project and claimed as his own.
A team member Arturito could also undermine a project by agreeing on action items during meetings, but doing different things when back in the field. This could be managed by the Black Belt by having informal meetings directly with process owners to validate action items being implemented.
In your Six Sigma or Project Management experiences, what specific Money Heist Characters have you encountered?
Please share on the comments section.
Hopewell, J. (2019, September 10). Netflix Launches Its First European Production Hub in Madrid. El Pais.
Koblin, J. (2019, October 21). Netflix's Top 10 Original Movies and TV Shows According to Netflix. The New York times.
Rogers, E. M. (1962). Diffusion of Innovations. Macmillan Company.