Nov 12 2013

We’ve probably all seen them; the managers who like to “drive the desk”. The ones who think they know what’s going on without ever having to get out to the Gemba (shop floor – where work actually happens) – Go Look See!

To truly be in control of an area, and let’s face it, Management is to at least some extent about being in control; you need to know what is going on. And I don’t just mean in general. No, you don’t have to know the detail of every single thing that happens, but you do need to be sufficiently aware of the normal items & significantly aware of any out of the norm issues.

How do you do this? Some people like reports, written usually by those who have an agenda & only want you to know certain things. Others like to read their “dashboards” or KPI matrices and think that is sufficient. Some even think that by having regular (even daily) reviews of performance & issues at a visual information board is sufficient.

All of these are good things, in their place. But without actually going to the “shop floor”, the front line where the work actually takes place can you truly understand what the specific issue being discussed is all about?

How many times have you told your boss that there is X problem on machine Y & he provides an instant response on how to “fix it”. If this happens, then it is not a fix; you haven’t got to the root cause of the problem because if you had, it wouldn’t be happening again.

Going out to the shop floor allows us to fully understand & drive into the heart of the matter. It enables a complete grasp of reality. The next time you think you have a good understanding of an issue without going to the Gemba – go out & confirm reality. You will most likely find your understanding & reality are not the same.

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