Walking around the offices of one of my clients, I noticed the receptionist completing a simple task that seemed overly complex in its fulfillment. I asked her why she was doing it that particular way and looking up she responded with, “it’s the way I’ve always done it.”
Noticing a whiteboard on the wall of another client, I asked why they still used it when there was a digital system in place. It seemed a duplication and unsurprisingly, was a carryover from the pre-digital days. They were still using it despite adding no value to their process.
The simple power of observation.
In both the above stories, changes were made to drive efficiencies simply from being at the actual place:¹ simply observing, simply questioning, asking the employee for their input and advice, and then making the subsequent corrections.
For leaders, this means getting out of our offices to observe where the actual business is being performed. While reviewing reports—that most often reflect end results—is important, taking time to observe others in action (where those results are produced) is critical.
¹The Japanese word Gemba (or Genba as it is less commonly spelt) means “the actual place,” and in those companies who practice Lean principles, Gemba refers to the actual place where value is created.
*Photo by Aleksey from Pexels