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How do you “show respect” when you are in gemba?

May 31, 2011


Lean practitioners know that an integral part of the Toyota Production System is “Respect for People”. Recently, while working with two kaizen teams at a company relatively new to lean that were learning and applying standardized work in a manufacturing and office area, I asked the team members for their ideas on how we could “show respect” to the value-adders (the people who actually do the work) when we were in gemba (the place where the work is being done). The team members included people from production, office, QC, warehouse, team leads, and engineering. I wanted to make sure they had a good feel for the concept of showing respect for other workers.

Before doing our observations I asked the team to do a little brainstorming; here are some ideas of what they came up with:

  • Introduce yourself and the team
  • Explain what you are doing (training on standardized work, observations, etc.)
  • Put the person at ease
  • Let them know you’ll ask them questions about the process so we can learn
  • Don’t “pepper” them with questions
  • Be polite
  • Follow the “Golden Rule”
  • Compliment them if you observe something good
  • Observe their mood, body language and responses
  • Stay out of their way while they are working
  • Put yourself in their shoes, how would you feel if people came out with stopwatches and clipboards
  • Don’t ambush them

What do you think? How did they do? As part of hansei (reflection), how do you show respect when going to gemba?

Please, share your thoughts. – Tony

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One Response to “How do you “show respect” when you are in gemba?”

  1. Joe Dager Says:

    Good list and I hope others will contrivute a few more.

    I might add, make them or a peer part of the team to begin with. It makes it a whole lot easier to accept observation when your line-mate, for example is part of the group that is observing. It makes you feel that the group does care and willing to listen.


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