Management by Walking About (but take a camera)!

In a related article, i explain theJapanesephilosophy called 'Go To Gemba' (where Gemba means 'truth'). This suggests that it isdangerousto rely onwhatyou are told - you should always go and look for yourself - to uncover thetruth. This is not (always) because people are trying to hide thetruth... just as often it is because people tell you what is supposed tohappen, rather than what actually happens.
MBWA - Management by Walking About - is a simple approach to 'Go To Gemba' ... and it works. if a manager or business owner walks his or her domain regularly - with eyes and ears truly open - he or she is likely to see and hear things that would otherwise go unnoticed. Of course you ask questions as you walk - two senses arealwaysbetter than 1.

One way to enhance this process is to walk with a camera and take pictures of 'waste' and 'clutter'. (The cheapness of digital cameras has made this a simple and convenient process.) It is much harder for people to defend themselves when faced with a photo ... and much easier to show improvement if you take 'before' and 'after' photos. Besides which when you look through a camera lens - or at a resulting photo -you often see the world differently. You are more likely to see 'the truth' (Gemba). When you simply walk past, even though you think you are looking, you often see what you expect to see ... or what you always see.

Depending on the relationship you have with staff, you can even open drawers and cupboards and take pictures. You can then either insist people tidy up ... or ask them what they need in orde to be more tidy - better filing systems, desk tidys, etc.
The aim is not to embarrass those who are untidy orcareless... simply tohelpthemmake things accessible when needed - quickly and efficiently.


Productivity is my 'bag' ... it is what I know about. I am President of the World Confederation of Productivity Science - and Director of the National Productivity Centre in the UK - go to this site for some good free resources and some (paid for but low price) e-learning on productivity. I also edit the International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management. My views on productivity and on learning (which I think are related) are su...

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