Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Deming Wanted Managers to Understand the Systems They Managed and to Visit Where the Work was Done

Comments on Deming wasn’t a fan of Management by Walking Around

Deming’s view is entrenched in Lean management practice in the form of “Genchi Genbutsu”, literally “go and see” at the “real place”. Where practitioners of Management by Walking Around merely visit the workers for a chat, practitioners of Genchi Genbutsu stay with the workers to understanding what is going on.

True, and the details you provide are important. It wasn't managers going to the gemba Deming was against. What mattered is the system. Some people did Management by Walking Around (MBWA), even decades ago, in a useful way - with understanding. But most did not.

Gemba walks are much more likely to be useful (because the expectations are for a more engaged leader) but there are plenty of times those are not done well, and are no better than bad MBWA. Jim Womack has a book out on Gemba Walks which provides good details to managers on what they should do (and what Deming wanted them to do).

Related: Out of Touch Executives Damage Companies, Go to the Gemba - Leadership and Management - Jeff Bezos Spends a Week Working in Amazon’s Kentucky Distribution Center (2009) - Customer Gemba

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