Good morning. I hope things go smoothly for you as you get back to work after a long weekend.
It looks like more things are trying to open up a bit this week: schools and the NFL primarily, but we’re still a long way from the normal we were used to before the pandemic.
Today, I want to offer leaders some help in staying connected while letting go. Remember, the theme for this month is Letting Go, but it’s difficult. How can we satisfy our own need to be in control when we let go and empower everyone to act in the interests of the organization? How can I make sure people have all the support they need to do the work they’re assigned?
The answer is by walking around. Of course, if everyone is working from home, it’ll be a little different. But this idea of Management by Walking Around or by Wandering around isn’t new. Effective leaders have been doing this from the start, thousands of years ago. The term itself, Management by Walking Around, seems to have shown up first in the book In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman way back in 1982. Others trace it back to the 70’s at Hewlett-Packard.
Regardless of where it started, it has lasted because it works. In the lean world, we call it going to the gemba.
Peters says that MBWA should be mostly random and its purpose is to understand the status of the work system, but the expected benefits include improving morale.
When I teach leaders about gemba walks, I remind everyone that while we have to check our systems to make sure everything is functioning properly, the underlying purpose of the gemba walk is to build more effective relationships with the workforce. We go and see, we ask questions, we show respect. But we also connect.
These days, we might have to do a gemba walk via zoom. And that’s okay. I think it’s important to use the video if you can’t actually be there. You can even have someone on FaceTime walk you through areas where there might be problems.
Later this month, I’ll get into a little more detail about how to do specific gemba walks for a specific purpose, but for now, just go out and connect with people. I promise it will make your day better too.
Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.