What is Genchi Genbutsu?

Genchi Genbutsu Japanese word literally means “Go and See by yourself” and it is a key management principle of the TPS (Toyota Production System).

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Genchi Genbutsu Japanese word literally means “Go and See by yourself” and it is a key management principle of the TPS (Toyota Production System).

The aim of it is that in order to really understand a situation, a problem, an improvement, a quality issue one needs to go to genba walk where work is done.

One of the traits of Taiichi Ohno (who was the creator of the TPS, mentioned above) was to take new employees to the shopfloor and stay for hours observing what was being done by the operations’ operators. The new employee was told to stand somewhere static, observe and describe in writing what he saw. When Taiichi Ohno returned he would check; if the new employee had not seen enough about the operations’ added-value activities and general procedures he would be asked to stay longer. The idea of Taiichi Ohno was to change the midset of his future leaders about that the only way to understand what happens on the shop floor was to go there and see it by theirselves. It was where value was added and waste could be observed, detected and removed afterwards.

Genchi Genbutsu is a tool for problem solving. If the problem exists on the shop floor then it needs to be understood and solved at the shop floor. It is crucial to involve production operators and make them responsible for the improvement and resolution of the problem.

Genchi Genbutsu is also called Genba attitude or “way of doing things”. It is the Japanese term for “the place where the action is undertaken” in this case “the place where it happens”. As the added value is created at the shop floor within manufacturing processes mainly, this is where all operations’ managers need to spend their time.

The concept of Genchi Genbutsu quickly became universal that new managers integrated this behavior within their DNA and knew that they had to walk around to achieve high effectiveness levels.

For instance, Toyota has very high levels of management presence on the production line whose role is to know what is really happening and to constantly improve processes.

Metrics and reports will reflect the attitudes of the management who is questioning by using a checklist or logical questions and the workplace responder (production operator) as well as which is the idea of the operator about his manager. It also increases the chance that current issues and unplanned events are observed rapidly and can be managed and issued immediately.


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