Thursday, November 03, 2005

Forget the Conference Room, Gather Around Gemba

Whenever a problem arises in any organization, one of the first action items by management is call a meeting. Typically, this meeting is held in a company conference room. With the miracles of modern technology, a conference call takes place to include distant members with the everyone gathering around the phone.

In many cases, some information is collected and souvenirs are dragged into the conference room for show and tell during the meeting. In my experience, most meetings create more questions and multiple directions then establishing a solution. At best, additional assignments are handed out to gather more information prior to making a decision. In the worst case, snap decisions are made with little information.

The kaizen approach is different. Forget the conference room, gather around gemba (meaning actual location/work place). If the issue is a broken machine, gather around this machine. If the issue is on the assembly line, go to that work station. The employees that are closest to the issue are at gemba. Utilize their experience and wisdom which is not always included in traditional American business problem solving.

By seeing for yourself at gemba, you will better understand the process, arrive at the root cause and formulate a solution. Next time a crises occurs in your facility, try calling the meeting at gemba.


Mark Graban said...


(Go See)

Anonymous said...

In the military, the Captain would make his inspection of the ship and the crew weekly. He and his team would walk through most areas of the ship and look for good things and bad things. When I got into manufacturing I was fortunate enough to work for a company that believed in a similar system that later was defined as MBWA, Management by Walking About.

Your point is an extension of that and one that I have used many times. The sense of urgency and the ready source of first person information that is available at the site of whatever is being investigated is so much more powerful than any PowerPoint presentation.

Thank you.