As I was researching our upcoming post on the Pioneers of Lean Leadership, I came across a quote by Taiichi Ohno, one of the fathers of the Toyota Way and Kaizen. On the subject of Gemba walks, he said, “When you go out into the workplace, you should be looking for things that you can do for your people there. You’ve got no business in the workplace if you’re just there to be there. You’ve got to be looking for changes you can make for the benefit of the people who are working there.”
This is a deeply important idea that encapsulates the purpose of going to the Gemba as well as the difference between Gemba walks and management by walking around. I especially appreciate that he focused on making changes to benefit the people who are doing the work, not simply to reduce waste or cut costs. When workers feel productive and engaged, amazing results can occur.
I wondered if other leaders had thought-provoking things to say about Gemba walks and it turns out they certainly do. Here are a few gems.