As Thanksgiving approaches, a friend recommended re-watching the classic WKRP in Cincinnati “Turkey Drop” episode (the full episode is available via Hulu).
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.
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. As an alternative, read Norman Bodek’s piece on effective gemba walks.
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…
“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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