key·stone/ˈkēˌstōn/. Noun. 1) A central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together. 2) The central principle or part of a policy, system, etc., on which all else depends.
What is the keystone for a true lean organization? Or at least an organization striving to transform itself on a foundation of continuous improvement and respect for individuals?
I think the keystone could be Genchi Genbutsu; aka gemba: the place where actual individuals and teams are doing the actual work. If true, then we must not only strive but also actually ensure that we spend the majority of our time, as leaders, in gemba. We must understand that practical experience is far more valuable than theoretical knowledge. We must accept that we must see the problems in order to actually understand the problems.
Why gemba as the keystone? It seems that regardless of your business, your customer’s experience and interaction with your company is in the gemba or closely connected to it. Therefore all problems, all heroics, all profits, all losses have gemba at the root. Seems to me that gemba is the central part of the system on which all else depends.
I welcome your thoughts on this one…