Gemba Shemba

A synopsis of leadership conversations from the last couple of years:

“Yes I know it’s Japanese for…”

“I want you to know that I stop by and say hi to the teams when I have a break in my schedule…so…I am going to gemba…”

“Yes I have heard about the 3 Actuals…”

“When I ‘go to gemba’, what exactly is it that I am supposed to do?”

“Honestly, I don’t disagree with the concept…”

“Hey lets be pragmatic…I have email [way to much of it]; I have more meetings than there is room on my calendar; I have more fires to fight than time and energy allows…there is simply no time…”

I run into these perceptions constantly – they are the current truth of many leaders in the healthcare sector.   There is no arguing with them. They are real.

The irony is that the exact thing that we don’t have time for [gemba], is what will give us more time. The concept that we don’t quite understand [gemba], provides us with deep understanding. Guess where the answers to the endless urgent problems that we seek to solve via emails, meetings, and conference calls are found?

Gemba provides each of us with a powerful opportunity to begin to shift our current perceptions of how we lead and manage in the business of healthcare.

The first step to understanding gemba is to go see. Simply, go see and listen.

Do not go and talk. Just go and listen.

I’d be thrilled to hear what you learn.

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4 thoughts on “Gemba Shemba

  1. It is amazing what I learn when I keep my mouth shut. Not just listening to others, but listening to my internal voice, and just noticing it…. thank you.

    1. Eleanor, You are welcome. Your comment is a good reminder for myself! – Karl

  2. This is an excellent reminder of doing it and that listening is most important.
    I meet with all my teams and I cannot say enough about how much I learn every single time but I still talk too much. Susie McDonald

    1. Susie, Thank you for your comments. I constantly must check myself on my listening/talking ratio! – Karl

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