Gemba

The Different Types Of Gemba

Are there different types of Gemba?  Yes!  The fundamental reasons of Gemba remain the same, but there are at least 5 different types of Gembas each serving a different purpose.  Do you know what they are?

A leader needs to stay connected and engaged with what is going on, or not, as the case maybe, in their areas of responsibility.  In a previous post Toyota’s Worst Best Kept Secret & The Top Five Reasons For It, the top 5 reasons for Gemba were discussed, and even though these reasons more or less stay the same there are at least 5 different types of Gembas.   Gemba is NOT just for manufacturing processes!  Gemba is also a very powerful leadership tool regardless of the type of work, industry, or level of leadership you are in.  Office, logistics, laboratory, health care, customer service, construction, etc, gemba works the same and is just as beneficial as in a manufacturing or factory environment.

Gemba or “Go & See”

Personal Gemba –  A personal gemba is where the leader goes to one or more of their areas of responsibility by themselves.  They may go with a specific topic, concern, waste stream, check, audit, confirmation in mind, or just go and see.  Of course they should engage with their team along the way, but the point is these are unplanned and impromptu conversations and engagements with them.  These gembas are a great way for a leader to observe things without preparations by the team and in areas they otherwise may not be taken.  When visiting a building, I typically conduct a personal gemba first thing by walking the parking lots, lunch rooms, rest rooms, and other nooks and crannies before reviewing the main operations as it gives a leader an overview state of the business, how things are being managed, and the culture within the facility.  Another purpose of a personal gemba is to go and see by yourself before setting a new target or challenge to your team.  By observing for yourself, you will be better able to determine where the team needs to focus, what are challenging but achievable targets, observe abnormalities, or periodic work, or to confirm for yourself, without bias, what the current condition really is.

Leadership Gemba – A leadership gemba is when several members of a senior leadership team conduct a go & see together.  This is powerful because they observe together seeing and hearing the same things.  This is an opportunity for senior leaders to engage with operators through to middle management to provide coaching, mentoring, redirection, provide resources and assistance, and to recognize the teams.  A leadership gemba can be a confirmation walk of the actual conditions, observe problematic processes, see the results of a recent kaizen or continuous improvement project, provide recognition, or to engage with the teams on a specific topic.  Leadership gembas are usually scheduled and the general agenda agreed upon by the levels of leadership.

Daily Gemba – A leader’s core responsibility is to remove barriers and help our teams achieve the organizational goals.  The best way to do that is to demonstrate our actions being louder than words and daily gemba is an excellent tool for this purpose.  Daily gemba is done at the same time each day with all department leaders following a predetermined standard path.  The path may very day by day, but the point is to visit the key areas on a regular frequency.  During the gemba, the teams would provide an update on key metrics and performance from the previous day, recent trends, and identify any current challenges, concern, or barriers which is impeding their performance or attainment of a target.  The leaders can then assist with removing these barriers.  Daily gemba also ensures that everyone knows, understands, and is aligned to the top priorities for that day.  Daily gemba should be short and very focused, targeting 30 minutes and no more than 45.  The challenge is usually to avoid problem solving during gemba.  Daily gemba should also be a key part of Leader Standardized Work.

Impromptu Gemba – An impromptu gemba is used when discussing a specific situation or topic in an area physically removed from the point of discussion, and a spontaneous decision is made to go and see at the actual location or process under discussion.  This is done to assist in and align understanding, to problem solve and determine root cause, discuss counter measures, ask questions of the operators or those involved, or discuss next steps.  Often in meetings it takes a great deal of time for everyone to understand an issue and even after explaining, some may not actually get it.  They think they do, but they really don’t.  By going and seeing, problems can more rapidly be understood, necessary resources and actions agreed upon, and the issue resolved.

Scheduled Gemba -Some disagree with this type of gemba, but I do believe it serves a couple of important purposes.  This type of gemba, is simply scheduled in a calendar like any other meeting.  It can be a reoccurring scheduled event, or a one time occurrence on specific topic scheduled gemba.  In some environments or with some leaders, going and seeing seems to becomes the lowest priority and as a result, doesn’t happen.  Unless that is, they schedule it like any other meeting.  This reduces the likelihood that other meetings will be scheduled over top, or getting caught up in other things and not making it out to gemba.  The one time occurrence gemba is used when there is a need to have several leaders attend.  In these situations, it is important that everyone sees and hears the same thing so scheduling the gemba is usually necessary in most environments to ensure attendance.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Gemba must be priceless!

There are several types or slightly different gembas, beyond the above, but the most essential point is that leaders need to invest quality time at the gemba, or going and seeing.  If a picture is worth a thousands words, Gemba must be priceless, because it allows everyone to see the same thing first hand; the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

 

Together We Can - Values in Action!

#32 Together We Can, Values In Action!

At age 40, I visited seven people who had guided me along positive paths when I was a child.  I wanted to thank each one for shaping my life.  To my surprise, only three remembered me.  Like stones dropped in a pool of water, the words of advice you give today may ripple outward into many lives and many tomorrows.

Don Dougherty

Don’s words are so accurate!  Don, you need to know that you didn’t just receive ripples created by seven people, but you dropped many stones in that pool yourself that have propagated ripples to many, many more.  I was fortunate to be one of them.  I met Don over twenty years ago when he coached and mentored me and my team on one of the pinnacle milestones of my career.  We have stayed in contact since then and Don has continued to be a mentor, advisor, and friend to me.  Thanks Don!  No doubt you have given more than you received!

Leadership

How Effective Leaders’ Actions Speak Louder Than Their Words!

Do you sometimes find your team doesn’t understand your priority?  If so, they are probably confused by your actions not your words.  So what can a leader do to ensure their actions speak louder than their words?

In a previous post, A Big Problem With Problem Solving, an example was given where the team believed the leaders placed a higher priority on productivity over quality which ultimately resulted in a significant quality defect.  I received a question from a reader that many leaders often face, and struggle with, on how best to address the following type of unfortunately common issue:

The perception of team members that some attributes (i.e. cost and delivery) take precedence over other attributes (i.e. quality) has concerned me several times.  How do you suggest this can be changed?

A leader’s actions not only have to align with their words, the actions must speak louder than the words!  Also, actions have to be consistent and unwavering from the words particularly when in a time of pressure or crisis.  For example, if you always say safety is the most important thing, that you care for your team, and that you will not risk their safety for any reason, and then when you are under the gun to deliver on time, you instruct your team, or otherwise turn a blind eye, to by-pass a safety standard, process or policy, you’re done.  These are opportunities where your actions can speak louder than your words.  Imagine if during this same example, you shut down the operation until it could be done safely?  Of course there may be a negative impact such as missing on-time delivery, but over the long term, and as it relates to the culture and relationship with your team, which is more important?

Two real examples come to my mind that emphasize these points very well.  The first related to a safety issue that was identified but didn’t cause an immediate safety risk.  Only under certain conditions and situations was there some risk.  Many involved believed that with additional training and other controls in place, the risk could be adequately mitigated.  Further more, the condition had existed for some time but had only just been identified and become known.  Stopping the operation would no doubt impact the customer and add cost to the business.  The timeline to address the issue was significant, costly, and would impair the operation until addressed.  The leader involved, demonstrated conviction to their words of safety first, and shutdown the operation and kept it down until the safety issue was properly addressed.

I was directly involved in this second example and remember the situation like it was yesterday!  Production was behind schedule and as we worked hard to catch up, the quality indicators started to decline but remained within target.  On this particular day, the first passed yield dropped significantly, meaning a lot of rework would be required and the actual completed volume would be lower, adding to the stress of the situation.  We had always and consistently communicated that our top priority, second only to safety, was quality.  I called the management team together and requested that we shutdown the plant and conduct a quality stand-down with the entire plant.  They looked at me like I was out of my mind!  They raised concerns with the additional lost volume this action would result in, not to mention the costs!  We shutdown and communicated the quality concerns, what the top issues were, what the operators could do to improve quality, and reconfirmed our leadership priority and commitment to quality over productivity/volume.  The recognition and appreciation from the team was incredible, which boosted the morale and pride of the operators for being part of an operation that placed quality ahead of productivity.  They wanted to believe!

They wanted to believe!

These examples describe real life crisis situations many leaders have and will no doubt face in their careers.  It is during these times, that true leadership and commitment to a leader’s words, values, and standards is tested and demonstrated.  It is during these times, you either build or destroy your culture and leadership trust.  These decisions are never easy, even though they should be, because of the other ramifications and consequences they create.  However, I’d suggest that typically those consequences are short term focused.  If you lead with the long term in mind, the decision is clearer and easier to make.

The same holds true for a non-crisis day.  Your actions must be consistent with your words.  You can’t walk by or ignore anything that doesn’t align with your words.  You must take action.  For example, no matter what else is happening at the moment, walking past something or someone that is unsafe when you say safety is your top priority, completely discredits your words of the past, present and future.  Look for opportunities to emphasize your priorities and reinforce your words every chance you can find.  Always explain “why” one thing is a priority over another.  If you need to focus on something else that might give the perception that your priority has changed, explain why you are focusing on the other and that it has not in fact superseded the higher priority.

Leave a comment with what you do to ensure your actions speak louder than your words!

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

Leadership, Personal Development

“But that is your job!”

As leaders, we all have a lot of demands on our time.  Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in other things and forget that one of the primary responsibilities we have as leaders is to support our teams.  It might be surprising, but in reality our teams are not there to support us.   Leaders are there to support their teams!  Of course a primary job of a leader is to set the vision and direction that the team needs to go, but after that, our job is to facilitate the team in accomplishing and reaching those goals.

How do you think you stack up in this area?

What would your team say about you?

I’ve realized recently that I need to get better at this.  I know this is a key and important part of my role, but I’m not as good at this as I need or want to be.  You know what I mean?  The frown or sigh you make when one of your team drops by your office and says “Bill, do you have a minute?”.  Sure, you are in the middle of catching up on emails, or reading that monthly report and it interrupts your train of thought.  You aren’t necessarily making the gesture or sound effect towards the individual, but nevertheless, the impact it has on your team is tremendous.

I remember when I worked in a totally open office concept and an engineer came to my desk to ask me a question.  We had a brief conversation and I answered his questions after which he walked away.  Then I sighed and made a comment to the person next who was like my Sensei, that, “It is impossible to get anything done around here without getting interrupted!”.  He looked at me with a surprised look on his face and very sternly said,

But that is your job!

He went on to explain to me that the purpose of my role as a leader was to be there for my team.  To answer their questions, provide direction, coach them, teach them…

I never forgot that.  He was so right!  Ever since then, I have made a concerted effort to make myself accessible.  However, what I realized recently is that I had gone too far.  If I wasn’t in a meeting or on a phone call my door was open, and I encouraged anyone to come in anytime.   In my attempt to give my time to my team, I hadn’t given any time to myself.  To my surprise, the complete opposite to what I was intending was happening;  my “open door policy” had lead to frustration on my part which resulted in a poor experience for someone that did come to see me.

I’ve talked to my team about this and they have given me some suggestions because they also realize, I need time to work and get things done.  They don’t expect me to be available whenever they want, but they do want access to me and want to know I will get back to them.  After all, we all do need to get things done that require our full attention and concentration.  So the first suggestion I have, is to discuss accessibility with your team and get their input as to what they need and expect of you.

Below are a few suggestions to help make yourself more accessible to your team and more supportive when you do:

  • Determine the best days and times of day when you are at your best to receive your team and give them your full attention.  Similarly, determine when your best time of day is to focus and get your own things done.  Plan your schedule with these times in mind.
  • Have open “office hours” in your schedule and communicate in advance to your team to which anyone can drop by to see you.  You may want to schedule the person in to avoid conflicts, but the point is that the time slot is always open in your schedule until someone books it.
  • Close your door or go somewhere private when you cannot afford to be interrupted, but set a time frame as to how long you will do so before coming up for air.
  • Establish an SLA or Service Level Agreement to which you will respond to emails or other requests and commit to it.  Mine is 24 hours.
  • Schedule regular 1:1s with each of your team and allow them to discuss whatever they want to discuss as a priority ahead of anything you want to discuss.
  • Establish informal opportunities to have discussions with them, such as meeting offsite for a coffee, lunch or sometimes dinner.
  • If someone does come to see you, or calls, and you are in the middle of something important that requires your full attention,
    • Ask if it is urgent – nothing worse than telling someone you will get back to them later then finding out it is a drop what you are doing 911!
    • If not urgent, explain to them that you are in the middle of something that you need to get finished, but that you will get back to them by a specific time.  Make sure you do!
  • When someone does drop in to see you, or during a scheduled meeting with you, turn your phone upside down so you can’t see the screen and leave it away from where you are, turn off notifications, lock your lap top and give them your full attention.  Turn and face the person.  At the end of the discussion, summarize what you discussed, agreed upon, and the follow up dates/requirements.

Coincidentally, as I was drafting this post in my mind, I came across a post by John Hall  on social media that was similar in concept and had some great advice.  Worth a read:

Why saying I don’t have time is a great way to lose trust of your teammates

Leave a comment with what you find is a great way in which you give your time to your team.

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com.

Together We Can - Values in Action!

#30 Together We Can, Values In Action!

Deposit generously… When you uphold a commitment to someone or pay a sincere compliment, you make deposits in an emotional bank account.  When you fail to keep a promise or support that person, you make withdrawals.  For teamwork to occur all group members need high emotional bank accounts with each other.