Don Juan De Marco and Iterative Learning

My husband and I rewatched Don Juan De Marco with Johnny Depp (be still, my heart) this weekend. There is a fabulous scene where, inspired by his romantic patient, Dr. Mickler (Marlon Brando) dashes home and invites his wife upstairs. You see the requisite clothing scattered everywhere and then you see the couple in bed – shooting popcorn in the air with a pea Dunaway and Brandoshooter and catching it in their mouths. The pure surprise of the scene is it’s delight.

The key, of course is the spirit of play and adventure, not the actual popcorn challenge. If you were to turn to your spouse and say, “let’s go upstairs and shoot popcorn in the air and catch it in our mouths”, you might be pleased with the result, but chances are the whole thing would seem contrived.

That’s why I turned to my husband and said, 

  • Let’s go to bed early and see what happens.

I meant it exactly the way I said it. He knew that. No expectation. No anticipation of any result. Ready for surprises. We were both quite pleased with our “experimental outcome”. 

Lean manufacturing began in the US by copying tools and processes with mixed results. That’s very much like watching Brando and Dunaway play popcorn and trying it yourself. Now, the community is evolving in the direction of a more dynamic understanding of how those tools and processes come into play. They are growing into what Don Juan De Marco knew and Mr. and Mrs. Mickler discovered in the movie Don Juan De Marco: Iterative learning lead by a dynamic essence, not a static form. Mike Rother’s Toyota Kata actually creates a system to guide the iterative process. My years as a highly-trained meditation teacher taught me a similar skill – to guide people to let go of directing a process into aligning with it and letting it teach them. 

I couldn’t find a picture of Brando and Dunnaway in their popcorn play, so I settled for the one above. If you have a picture of the popcorn adventure, pass it on, will you? 

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