Management By Walking Around

Management by Walking Around, Angela M. Corriero, Process Improvement Japan

"A good manager goes to the actual workplace to gather first hand information for analysis." Akira Takahashi, Fmr Chairman of Denso Corporation

"You must know the gemba site(production site). Even the president must be able to "sense" the gemba problems and know what the proper conditions ought to be. All too often, leaders are disconnected from the Gemba." Yoshito Kato, Fmr President, Aisan Industries Co. Ltd., Current Auditor, Moriseki Co. Ltd.

Management by walking around (MBWA) is an essential tool for successful leadership and employee engagement. It is key for Total Quality Management and vital in the Toyota Production System.

The challenge for each of us is to observe with a fresh set of impartial, unbiased and objective eyes. The reality is that we have adapted to our work environment and have become oblivious to some of its conditions. Busy schedules often impede managers from getting a first hand look at what is actually happening on the shop floor, production site or administrative center. The credibility, reliability or simply the lack of experience or wisdom of our sources of information may be in question. Whatever the situation, there is no valid reason for managers to be caught unaware of existing conditions. Koji Suzuki, Process Improvement Japan

From the diary of Koji Suzuki...

I asked people, especially people in positions of responsibility, not to say "I don`t know." According to my understanding, "I don`t know" means "I am not eligible to be a person in charge". or "I have no capabilities".

Also, "He did", "she did", "He said", "She said" and "They did/said". What have you done? Were you sleeping while something happened? These words deny your existence. Authority can be transferred to subordinates, but responsibility cannot be transferred to anyone.

Management by walking around provides the opportunity to get an unfiltered, unsanitized look at what is happening. A picture is worth a thousand words. On the floor observation is essential for:

  • Kaizen or lean management

  • Employee engagement

  • Employee morale

  • Fostering an exchange of ideas

  • Promoting accountability

  • Providing an opportunity for recognizing employees` accomplishments

Return from Management by Walking Around to Total Quality Management.