By Jon Miller | Post Date: January 11, 2005 3:09 PM | Comments: 9
As we being a new year, there have been humbling reminders of one of the fundamentals of the Toyota way, namely Genchi Gembutsu. In short this means "go to the actual scene (genchi) and confirm the actual happenings or things (gembutsu).
Secretary of State Colin Powell returns from the ruins of the tsunami and says he has never seen such devastation, pledging further assistance. The pledge of aid has increased more than 10 fold from the initial White House statement after December 26th. Things look a lot different from ground zero. As we say in kaizen "go to Gemba" or the actual place, to see the facts and make decisions based on those facts.
When we visit Toyota City and pass by Toyota's headquarters on our Japan Kaikaku Experience study missions, we have to point out the headquarters to everyone on the bus. It is easily missed. This 3-story high building built in the 1960s is not impressive. Toyota certainly has the money to build a giant modern headquarters. More than one Toyota supplier indeed does. This humble old building has suited Toyota for 40 years.
This small, old, outdated building houses Toyota's top executives. Yet only recentlly have they begun planning to rebuild it, citing the need for refurbish the aging building and earthquake-proofing.
This headquarters building has suited the world's #2 automaker for so many years because Toyota's executives have been successfully living the Genchi Gembutsu principle. They know that their offices do not make them money, the factories do. Toyota factoris are far more impressive facilities than their headquarters. How many of us can say the same?
I had the opportunity to travel with one of our consultants on a training assignment to a new client. It was a good reminder for me of what needs consultants in the field have. Was the pre-training information sufficient? Do we have clear standards for our trainers to follow? Have our consultants and trainer all been adequately cross-trained? These answers can be found only at the consultant's Gemba. It was Genchi Gembutsu, going to where we add value and seeing what actually happens, that made these issues clear to me.
Even as we Lean practitioners incorporate technology into Lean training such as new software for mapping Value Streams or enhanced online presentation capabilities, we are becoming perhaps too focused on the trappings of training and doing kaizen rather than engaging the people on the Gemba and their creativity.
It is more difficult for us non-factory folk who do not have a 'Genchi' nearby, or who must travel hundreds of miles to get to their Gemba. I am speaking of 'knowledge workers' such as consultants or traveling salesmen. Technology can enable us to do our jobs effectively over a distance but we must not forget that reports are not fact, merely post-mortem and Genchi Gembutsu is the action is.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.