Happy Thanksgiving from WKRP

As Thanksgiving approaches, a friend recommended re-watching the classic WKRP in Cincinnati “Turkey Drop” episode.

Early in the episode, there’s a little scene where the station manager, Mr. Carlson, asks Les Nessman, the news director, how things are going.

Nessman’s somewhat fearful response reminds me of the old Toyota story about the Japanese executives responding to the new American managers “no problems is a problem” early in the days of the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant.

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That video clip seems to set up that story perfectly… and it *is* Thanksgiving tomorrow. To Mr. Carlson’s credit, later on, he does get a bit frustrated at how everyone is just saying “no problems.”

Ha, and this clip seems to perfectly illustrate a bad attempt at a “gemba walk” where a bored Mr. Carlson is wandering around the station, awkwardly interacting with people, and giving clueless advice.

There’s also a scene with a funny discussion about the role of management… “what *do* I do here?” asks Mr. Carlson:

The staff all then complain that Mr. Carlson’s getting in the way and driving them crazy with his suggestions, including the infamous turkey drop! The turkey drop is a great argument for doing tests and getting input from others and not just running with one person’s idea… PDCA…

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“With God as my witness… I thought turkeys could fly…” says Mr. Carlson to end the episode.

With that, I’ll probably take a few days off from blogging. Enjoy the rest of the week.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. 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 project is an book 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.

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