Genba Genbutsu Genjitsu (3Gs), (Go to the Genba & see for yourself!)
What is Genba Genbutsu Genjitsu (3Gs)?
Genba - Gemba (現場) is the Japanese term for “actual place,” often used for the shop floor or any place where value-creating work actually occurs. It is also spelled genba. This is where work takes place and value is created for the customers. Note that work and value are not always aligned.
Genbutsu - "The actual thing". This could be a piece of equipment, a product, etc. It is the target of one's focus for improvement.
Genjitsu - "The actual situation (facts)". What is happening in the area of the area of kaizen, a workcell, etc.
One very key aspect related to these three terms is "genchi gembutsu" or "Go Observe". This means that one would go observe an area of opportunity or where a problem might be occurring. By doing this, we gain first-hand and not anecdotal or second hand information that might have been filtered for us.
Taiichi Ohno, creator of the Toyota Production System is credited, perhaps apocryphally, with taking new graduates to the shopfloor and drawing a chalk circle on the floor. The graduate would be told to stand in the circle, observe and note what he saw. When Ohno returned he would check; if the graduate had not seen enough he would be asked to keep observing. Ohno was trying to imprint upon his future engineers that the only way to truly understand what happens on the shop floor was to go there. It was where the value was added and waste could be observed.
Genchi Genbutsu is sometimes referred to as "Getcha boots on" (and go out and see what is happening) due to its similar cadence and meaning. It has been compared to Peters and Waterman's idea of "Management By Wandering Around".
Run your non-Toyota business, the Toyota way...
Genchi Genbutsu is NOT an aimless, purposeless walk around the block...!!!
Wikipedia says: Genchi Genbutsu (現地現物 ?) means "go and see" and it is a key principle of the Toyota Production System. It suggests that in order to truly understand a situation one needs to go to gemba (現場) or, the 'real place' - where work is done.
Broadly speaking, it also means “go, see, hear, smell, touch, feel and try-out” for yourself. It also means "not to solely rely on the reports", as;
1) Reports are not real-time and
2) Reports may not be quite objective!
- This is closely tied to the Gemba (Genba), where the action is, where the value is created. (Gen is the actuality and the reality in Japanese but translated into English, it has somehow changed to Gem!)
- Butsu means "the condition of..." Genbutsu, therefore means how the actuality of the Gemba (Genba) is...
- Gen-Jitsu simply means the status & situation of the Gemba (Genba) and the gap between where things are & where they ideally should be...
- “Lean” encourages upper management to get into the day-to-day work and get their hands dirty, so they can determine the health of their organization. These are basically the ways one can conduct an effective & intelligible Genchi-Genbutsu:
One of the most important, perhaps the most important ways to collect viable & pertinent data, is through personal Observation. In my opinion, each supervisor and/or a manager must intimately know ALL the processes and operations within his/her department; a.) To know what to watch & monitor as the CSFs (Critical Success Factors), b.) To be able to improve them further and c.) To avoid being snowed by the others!
For "Observation" to take place, one should be a good detective (have the right set of glasses on) and also the Gemba (Genba) must be easily discernible! (Visual workplace)
Next, is by asking people (Team Members), who do the work. That will provide good data. Knowing what to ask them (right questions). Asking open-ended questions, which are done with tact & sincerity to learn, will do wonders! 5Ws (Who, Why, What, Where & When) and 1H (How) are your best friends, when it comes to getting people to talk so you can collect the necessary data!
Although, this may not be as accurate or as timely as the first two, but it can offer some data with some degree of confidence. Designing a survey is a job and has to be done with care & knowledge, otherwise it will not provide the desired results!
This is the best way to correctly analyze the real-time, accurate and relevant data. Hands-on method will also provide an “emotional content", something quite valuable that the other approaches cannot offer! By actually doing the process, one can also be made aware of the Muri (overburden) and Mura (inconsistency) that are present within the process!
5. Reports & Paper Research
The other method to collect data is Paper Research, where we will have to depend on the reports, findings and previous problem-solving activities. This can definitely shed light on collecting data, provided we consider all the similarities as well as the differences among the many different factors in the environment, time, people & etc.
6. Historical data
The next method is referring to the historical data, from the past to help determine the trend & predict the future behavior! Historical data, although scientific, but it's not a certain predictive methodology! It's not however total Muda, either! It can illustrate the way a given phenomenon has occurred in the past, thereby anticipate its future behavior!
Walking around the Genba is NOT the same as conducting a thoughtful, purposeful & intentional Genchi-Genbutsu-Genjitsu, where certain areas are observed, certain questions are asked and certain notes are taken based on the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) of any organization. This way, only pertinent Kaizen (Improvements) are initiated, which are directly in-line with & related to the Goals & Objectives of the place! Happy Genchi-Genbuts'ing & God's speed!