You may remember from my intro blog that I LOVE me some Parks & Rec. So, in honor of the national holiday she invented, Galentine’s Day, I thought I would compile the ten reasons why Leslie Knope would definitely be a Peak Academy Black Belt.

1. She loves sticky notes and brainstorming. In season three episode 8, she takes the entire parks team on a retreat to brainstorm the next big idea after Harvest Festival’s success. She is ultimately locked in a room to get some sleep (at the Quiet Corn B&B) and then the next day has a full room of sticky notes with ideas, in addition to all the cats. Sticky notes were also a key component of the No Problem Too Small campaign in season six episode 1.

2. Her favorite food is waffles, pretty much an exact replica of an Impact/Effort Matrix. Coincidence? I think not.

3. She goes to where the work is being done. In season five episode 11, she takes a Gemba Walk one step further by being a trash collector for a day. While she did this to prove that women can do the job just as well as men can, in the process, she learns a lot about what this job entails.

4. “What I hear when I’m being yelled at, is people caring loudly at me.” Clearly, Leslie is a major fan of collecting the Voice of the Customer.

5. Leslie is a major fan of visual management from the giant thermometer to track funding for the park she wants to build on Lot 48, to 1,000 trees in 1,000 days to elaborate 3-D maps to plan vendors and placement of activities at the Harvest Festival.

6. Leslie Knope was never afraid to fail and get back up. In season four episode 11, her campaign managers have left her, saying that her chances of winning were too low to continue. Instead of giving up, she rallies her friends and coworkers around her to stay in the race and run her campaign themselves. My always LOL moment during this episode is when they are having a rally in an ice rink that was supposed to be a basketball court on a stage that has no stairs.

7. Collaboration is one of Leslie’s favorite things. In season two episode nine, the team learns that collaboration is more fun than winning when they present their proposal for a new city hall mural.

8. In Black Belt, we talk a lot about how important celebration is to process improvement, and Leslie Knope is the queen of celebration. Case in point: Galentine’s Day as way to celebrate her female friends and coworkers.

9. Relationship building is also key to continuous innovation and Leslie’s relationships with not only her coworkers, but the local businesses, the Wamapoke tribe and countless others throughout the series were crucial to much of her success.

10. Binders and binders of Standard Work. One of my favorite examples of this was season five episode 14 when she created binders for each person to use during emergency response training, but she has also created fake news videos to correspond to each tragedy with herself playing the roles of multiple news anchors to make the emergency seem even more real. Now that’s preparation.

I hope my fellow Knopeheads enjoyed this list and that you have a wonderful Galentine’s Day if you celebrate.


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