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56 The PCB Magazine • May 2015 by Steve williams sTeVe williaMs ConsUlTinG llC PoiNt of View Best Practices 101: Part 7 coluMn Management by walking Around Tom Peters, author of the "Excellence" series of books and one of my favorite management visionaries, coined the phrase MBWA (Man- agement by Walking Around). This is another concept that seems so obvious, but how many of us actually do this? This is a rhetorical ques- tion, of course, but really, how often do we go out on the shop floor and just observe what is going on? I don't mean tracking down orders and making sure people are working, but more along the lines of, how does the facility look? Do the workers look happy? Are we working smart or overcompensating by working hard? What would I think if I were the customer? You can't answer these questions sitting in your of- fice! Gemba Peters was on to something with his MBWA; in fact, the Japanese have a similar term for this, and that is "gemba." Roughly translated as "the real place," gemba means getting off your butt and going to see where the work is actually being done. Like many Lean buzz- words such as kaizen, gemba has transitioned from obscure to ubiquitous across our indus- try. I love gemba, but like anything worth- while, you get out of it what you put into it. Gemba demands a few things from the user to be successful. First, it requires a deep curiosity to know what is really going on in your organization. Not what you think is going on, or what you heard is going on, but what is actually going on. Next, gemba demands a skill set that includes the ability to actively observe and understand the work that's being done. While this may seem obvious, doing a drive-by surface observa- tion won't accomplish anything, and may actu- ally do some damage by providing a false sense of process well-being. The last demand is per-

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