Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You go to "gemba"--then what??

Had a useful walk through our production areas today.  And it hit me, just what was I looking for?  Where were my eyes going?  What was attracting my attention? 
The physical setting items are obvious:
  • Is the area neat?  Is there any material here which should not be here? Is there something missing?
  • Are the visual controls operating? 
  • Is the flow of material obvious, unobstructed, smooth?
But there is more.  If we respect people, the human factor must also be present.
  • What is the mood?  I can only tell if I speak with people, asking open ended questions and listening carefully.
  • What are people saying about each other?  Teamwork is always key; healthy relationships are a key barometer.
  • Does anyone ask me a question?  If not, they may feel they can't ask someone "above them".  That's a problem.  If they do, the nature of their questions tell me more of real concerns.
In short, I must speak briefly and listen carefully to truly grasp the workplace, the place where we create value, "gemba".  It's not enough to merely observe. 
Keep learning. 

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