Customer Experience Leaders: When Was The Last Time You Went To The Gemba? [Leadership]

Published by Forbes - CMO Network

Link to the original article.

Have you ever heard of the expression: ‘Going to the gemba’ ?
It originates from Taiichi Ohno, father of the Toyota Production System, and suggests that managers should regularly go to the place where ‘value is created’ to both learn and look for ways to improve how things are done.
Now, gemba is a Japanese word and means "the real place” i.e. the place where things actually happen. For example, TV reporters talk about ‘reporting from the gemba’ whilst police detectives talk about gemba as being the ‘scene of the crime’.
In business terms, therefore, the gemba could be could be anywhere from a factory floor to a retail environment to a contact center to someone using your mobile app whilst walking down the street. In fact, it could be anywhere where a business interacts with its customers.
However, despite the fact that this idea has been around for a long time and has been adopted as a principle and practice of Lean management, I don’t see much evidence of it happening in many organizations these days.
In fact, I would go further and suggest that today’s modern work environment mitigates against this sort of practice with many professionals and leaders spending their days pouring over spreadsheets, project plans, dashboards, data analytics, metrics and KPIs etc etc …..and that’s when they are not stuck in a routine of endless and back to back meetings.
The situation seems to have gotten so bad that even strategists and account planners at branding and marketing agencies admit that they “don’t get out into the real world very often” and when they do they are “celebrated”, according to Doug Kleeman, Senior Brand Strategist at Big Spaceship.
But, rather than ruminating about how we got here, I’m more interested in encouraging leaders and professionals, and particularly those in the customer experience space, to get out there and and to go and talk to, meet, listen to, observe and learn from the customers we aim to serve.