Continuing my review of Wakamatsu’s book on Taiichi Ohno, today we’ll explore his views on Genchi Genbutsu, which means “go and see” and how the principle of Genchi Genbutsu can validate truth and expose falsehoods and lies, sometimes found in presentations and excel spreadsheets.
To read my reviews of Wakamatsu’s book on Taiichi Ohno, please visit the links below.
- Taiichi Ohno on Standard Work
- Taiichi Ohno on Genchi Genbutsu
- Do Not Act Spoiled
- Learn from Previous Masters
- Wastes Hide, Disclose All Mistakes
- Truth and Understanding
- Innovation and Craftiness
- Teach Others to Think
- Intelligent Automation
- Taiichi Ohno on Leadership
Those Who Believe in Lies are Fools
Taiichi Ohno believed that one should base their judgments on his or her experience on the shop floor, not from a document alone. Ohno believed that data can be manipulated and that there is often bias and falsehood in presentations found in excel spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations. His antidote? Visit the shop floor.
If you base your judgments on documents you received, you’re most likely going to make wrong decisions. If you have even the slightest doubt in the information you received, you must step onto the shop floor for verification. For example, there was a president of a company who did not have sufficient technical knowledge, as he had been accustomed to mainly administrative types of work. Therefore, he made it a rule to visit the shop floor whenever he faced uncertainty with the documents given while an executive meeting took place. Consequently, he often discovered that what had been told in the meetings were false assumptions.
According to Wakamatsu, Taiichi Ohno was fond of sharing that story, hoping to illustrate that a simple gesture such as spending time on the shop floor can prevent poor decisions and bad judgments. Furthermore, when the company knows that the president visits the shop floor often, it actually can ensure that data and presentations in the future will be more accurate, since workers know that the president will always validate what he or she reads with his or her experience on the shop floor.
Fudging the Numbers
Because of frequent practice of the principle of Genchi Genbutsu, Taiichi Ohno became very adept at detecting lies and falsehoods. For example, when reviewing production numbers, he made it a habit to go to the shop floor and observe the workers first hand. In his observation, he would discover that the numbers were often better on paper than on the production line itself. Why?
It turns out that a common method line managers and team leaders often did was to help on the production line, making the production numbers look better than they really are. The role of team leaders and line managers are not to be on the line, but instead to observe and generate continuous improvement ideas. Since their role is not in production, their time doesn’t count and makes the production numbers look better than they really are.
Ohno’s message: practice Genchi Genbutsu.