At work, before you do anything else, go see your customer (internal or external), go see your team or staff – see how they are doing, go see and spend time where the work is done.
Guess who benefits the most when you do this? That’s right, you. By practicing “go and see” (genchi genbutsu) at “the place where value is added” (gemba), you learn empathy, you demonstrate trust and care, and you become informed, which helps your judgment as a leader.
Most, or some of us, who find home in an office or a cube and also on the factory floor or some other hands-on setting, are tempted to check email or voice mail when we first get to work. Fight the temptation – before checking your email or checking your voice mail, Go to the Gemba.
For you, this might mean:
- If you’re doctor, go see your patients first.
- If you’re a consultant, go see your clients first.
- If you’re a manager in a factory, go see the people at the factory floor first.
- If you’re an emergency room nurse, go see the folks in the emergency room first.
- If you’re an executive, go see your staff or team members first.
- If you’re like the rest of us and, just plain normal and nothing special, think about your customer – probably not the end customer, but most likely your downstream customer. Are you meeting their needs? Quit playing Farmville, Mafia Wars, or Frontierville – get up and talk to your internal, downstream customer – are you meeting their needs?
- If you’re a customer service agent, go and see your co-workers and see what the customer’s are calling about. What’s the current pulse of the customer?
- If you’re a marketer, go and see how your team is doing; how are your products and services doing? are they meeting the needs of your customers?
Here’s the point:
Before you get too comfortable in that ergonomic chair, dual monitor screens, spend time where the value is added. That usually means spending time where the work is truly done and with the people who are doing it. And, that usually doesn’t mean, in your cube or office.