My 12-year old son, Charlie, was treating us to an egg masterpiece and tossing ingredients into the cast iron skillet with reckless abandon. Curious as to whether or not he had an actual plan to our morning surprise, I asked how he knew the amount of each ingredient to add.
“I assume stuff. The best chefs do.”
Luckily for Charlie, his assumptions were delicious; but, the outcome was incredibly messy.
How often do you assume stuff about how your team is really doing or what your customer values or needs? Do you ever really go to where the work is done?
Recently, I had the pleasure of helping Cannon Safe with their quarterly planning at their headquarters in Las Vegas. One of the ‘stops’ that came our of our Start-Stop-Keep discussion was to stop making decisions without facts. Steve Hoffa, President, said “We should Go to Gemba.”
“Go to the Gemba: go see, ask why, show respect.” - Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho
Going to Gemba was already part of Cannon Safe’s culture; but, it was reinforced through discussion on HOW to do so. They decided to schedule regular trips with small groups to visit the manufacturing floor, retailers, consumers and suppliers. They found that these visits would help them:
- Not wait for the problems to come to them
- Remove stories from fact
- Not leave money on the floor. Look for opportunities there are to improve the process, remove barriers and help
- Create and review Kaizens
Luckily for me, we were already scheduled to leave Las Vegas and Go to Gemba in Tijuana, Mexico. Troy Blanchard, VP of Production, took us on a guided tour of how the home safes are made.
One of the benefits of Going to Gemba is you naturally break down barriers. You are viewed as a regular partner to the work, the customer, the supplier, etc. It was evident to me that neither Troy nor Steve were strangers. Everyone was on a first-name basis with lots of smiles and waves. I didn’t sense any nervous body language that the bosses and some strange new person were on the floor. It was business as usual.
Troy was so excited to show us some of the latest inventions from his team. In addition to breaking down barriers, they also adopt Marquet’s Leader-Leader model of giving rather than taking control. The employees are empowered to problem solve.
I saw roller systems designed and created in house to help move heavy materials from one machine to the next without relying on forklifts.
A floor supervisor wanted a space to do paperwork and talk 1:1 with his team without leaving the floor. Voila! An office complete with a desk and pallet chairs were created. No approval needed.
All of this Going to Gemba made this leader-leader hungry; so, I was treated with the best tacos and real, sugar cane sweetened Coca-Cola. Yes, I found a way to get this blog back to food.
So, Charlie, perhaps the best chefs and leaders do assume stuff sometimes; but, it’s better to Go to Gemba. The next time I hear you clammering in the kitchen, I’ll go see you, my leader-leader, devise a way to scrape the egg whites off of the sides of the island. Consider yourself empowered.
And, if all else fails, I’ll take you out to eat. I’m suddenly craving tacos.
Photo Credits: Top Image from iStock by Getty Images, Other Images by Liz McBride