Genchi genbutsu is a Japanese management approach that is typically translated "actual place, actual thing." It means that managers are expected to be in touch with operational realities by being physically present at the most relevant place when there is a problem or decision to be made. It is considered an attitude as much as it is a management principle. The following are illustrative examples of genchi genbutsu.
Production ProblemsWhen a production line stops, managers and executives show up at the station where the problem has occurred. They make decisions to get the line moving and begin to investigate root cause so as to find an improvement that will prevent future problems.
SafetyIn addition to confirming paperwork such as checklists, a manager does a visual inspection of maintenance work on an aircraft. Likewise, a pilot may do the same before departing the gate with a walk around inspection.
DeploymentsAn IT team deploys a new release on Saturday night at 3 AM. The team's managers all show up although they have nothing to do unless there is a problem.
TrainingA company trains potential managers with a job rotation scheme with the idea that a manager should understand the job of everyone they are managing. Likewise, potential executives in the firm rotate positions if they are to have a chance of becoming CEO. At a minimum, the company expects that a CEO would have served as head of sales, operations and as CFO.
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