Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Gemba Walk -- After a Business Trip

I was out of town last Thursday and Friday, which followed a Wednesday chock full of meetings.  I got back in on Monday to the predictable pile of emails, urgent meetings and stacks of papers to sign, each of which carried the weight of Western Civilization, or so each sender implied.  
Thus burdened, it was not until today, Wednesday morning, I actually took a physical walk through our operational areas. 
What an exercise.  What an eye-opener. 
In a mere 60 minutes of walking, checking visual boards, greeting people and listening to comments, I realized just how much I had missed in those 5 workdays away from physical contact with the operations.  I was ashamed to see directly what I had missed.  I was very proud of our people but felt very amiss at my own unawareness of the condition of our operation. 
It struck me that standard work for me, following a time away, must be to make a walk through the operation a First Thing upon my return.  I would have cut down two day's worth of non-knowledge had I done so upon my arrival on Monday morning. 
Keep on learning.  And walking.


Kevin Rutherford said...

Hi Joe, Does this mean you were signing papers, responding to emails etc on the basis of old knowledge? Or did gemba need your input to rectify stuff that had gone wrong since your last walk? (Because these are two very different problems, with different solutions.)
Thanks, Kevin

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