By Jon Miller | Post Date: June 5, 2007 11:45 PM | Comments: 5
This issue, and how it is addressed, is one of the main factors separating successful and sustained lean transformations from those that are not. Let's say the distance between management and the gemba is value D and the quality, quantity and speed of information received by management is value I. There is an inverse relationship between value D and value I. The greater the distance, the less the information is truly useful. In fact it is probably an inverse square relationship.
How do we reduce this distance between management and gemba, so that better quality information can arrive faster, in greater quantities to the decision-making space known as the minds or leadership?
Execute the executive conference rooms. Having nice offices, board rooms, and conference rooms creates a disincentive for people to go to gemba. The comfort and privacy of the large personal office or the conference room makes them one of the favorite hiding place of your company's most serious problems. These most serious problems don't like to be exposed, so they hide among the data, beneath the mahogany, behind the bookshelves full of trophies. But don't get up to look for them, they'll see you coming and find another nook to hide in. If you have the type of customers that like to pay the added cost of the executive conference rooms, or the personal offices, and the problems that they hide that is great. But these are the customers of yesterday.
Unplug the real time digital dashboards. Or at least turn them off for most of the day. Turn off e-mail capability to report status from the shop floor to management, and Blackberries also, while you're at it. Make it so that you have to go to the information, not make information come to you.
Take the management on some eye-opening gemba walks. You can't expect the average manager to know what to look for or how to see the abnormality in current condition if they have become habituated. It takes less than a minute to give people an "a-ha!" on a gemba walk, in most gembas. These gemba walks should be led by people with very sharp eyes for waste who are adept at asking open-ended questions, preferably starting with "Why..?" You may need to hire a respected outside expert to come in and do this, so that the person who gets fired for speaking the truth to management is not you. They key word is "challenge".
One of the key drivers of Lean is the idea that all processes, systems, organization structures, IT solutions, buildings and so forth should be designed to support one-piece flow delivery of high quality products and services to customers at a low cost. Likewise, when making decisions affecting processes, systems, organization structures, IT solutions, buildings and so forth, a key question must be to ask "how will this decision reduce the distance between management and gemba?"Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.