Genchi genbutsu, the philosophy of toyota

This Japanese expression implanted in Toyota, recognized as the best managed company in the world, hides the necessary procedure to have the necessary information and be able to make decisions effectively; however, and given the apparent simplicity of its meaning, is something that it is very difficult to apply, even more the bigger the size of the organization on which it is necessary to decide.

Genchi gembutsu

The literal translation of the expression “genchi gembutsu” is “go and see in situ”. It seems obvious that when there is something to solve, the first thing to do is to get in front of the problem, experience it and, then, think about the corrections that need to be applied and put them in place as efficiently and effectively as possible. .

This way of acting is absolutely routine in small companies, where there is minimal control spam and an absolutely horizontal organic structure, and where the decision maker (be it chief, CEO, manager or any other of the usual names) is directly in touch with the different obstacles derived from its activity, in many cases because he is the worker who is directly in front of the situation that needs to be solved. However, as organizations increase in size, horizontally, but mainly vertically, increasing the control spam, and moving decision-making positions away from operations, this practice begins to occur less and less frequently, even reaching to disappear. If in addition the growth of the company comes accompanied of the implantation of normalization with excess of bureaucracy, the only thing that is obtained is to aggravate the problem.

What are the consequences of this? The solutions take time to arrive, often do not solve the problem in its entirety, the employees are demotivated and the customers are not satisfied, and the worst thing is that from the top management of the company it is understood that things are going well, since the regulations and procedures are being applied, so that, at best, we can waste a very valuable time in solving an issue that may have a simple fix, and at worst we can generate a snowball effect that takes us to a critical situation related with the sustainability of the company.

Genchi gembutsu

With all this I do not mean that there is not necessary to implement regulations in companies. The larger the size of a company is, the rules make management much easier for executives, and the understanding of what to do and how to do it by workers. This is beyond doubt. However, there are many operational issues, usually easy to solve, that cannot be solved from an office, by applying a predetermined solution or a simple arrangement that makes the statistical data established. The solution, in my point of view, lies in empowering and supporting our collaborators so that they can make decisions up to a certain level, and implanting the exotic term “genchi gembutsu” in the DNA of the companies we manage.