Dec 12 – Why make it harder than it has to be? Go and See


Why make it harder than it have to be? Do the whisper game really work to understand how things really are? Why try to run the organization by remote control?

A key principle on most Lean organizations is “Go and See” (Genchi Genbutsu). The principle of Go and See suggests that in order to truly understand a situation one needs to go to Gemba or, the ‘real place’ – where work is done. Without experiencing the situation firsthand, one will not have an understanding of how the organization really works and where it can be improved. Goo and See is not about just visiting but more to about gaining firsthand knowledge by being there.

How can the principle of Go and See work in practice? Not so long ago I visited a reasonably mature Lean R&D organization of approximately 3000 people. They were developing both hardware and software. One part of their implementation of Go and See work roughly like this:

  • All leaders at all levels attend a daily team meeting every day. If needed leaders coached and participated in problem solving.
  • After the daily team meeting an escalation chain of impediment meetings were held within the next hour all the way to the head of R&D.
  • If an impediment could not be resolved or countermeasures put in place during escalation chain the head of R&D took responsibility of the potential delay.
  • During this 1+ hour no leaders were allowed to book other meetings if there is no stand-in with the same mandate.

After implementing this daily Go and See practice this organization when from an average lead-time for resolving or putting countermeasures in place went from approximately 3 weeks to less than 24 hours!

You can also take a look at the workshop material my friend and former colleague Martin Burns I ran at Lean Agile Scotland 2014.

Building the Boardwalk Empire: Visual Management in Action


This is my Lean/Agile Advent Calendar. I will publish a short post on a Lean/Agile topic every day up until Christmas. I will based each days topic on what is behind the door in the LEGO® City Advent Calendar.  So be sure to check back every day!

DISCLAIMER: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this post and blog in any way.


One thought on “Dec 12 – Why make it harder than it has to be? Go and See

  1. Richard Dudley 2016-03-30 / 00:18

    On this one, correct English would be “Why make it harder than it has to be?” Go and See!

    By the way, your website, and specifically this calendar, is absolutely fantastic! I’m using your words of wisdom to try to get my company to change the way it currently does things.

    I also read “Toyota Kata” and have started reading “This is Lean”. Toyota Kata was great and “This is Lean” is, so far, just as good.

    Thank you sooooo much for these great resources.

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