​​​Genchi Genbutsu​

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The Idea: Genchi Genbutsu is a Japanese phrase and Lean Management concept that translates as “go there and see for yourself.” I like this explanation from Pete Abilla’s blog — you’ll see why this idea is so powerful:

“In Lean Management Go and See is more of a management mindset than a technique or tool applied. To contrast, here are two approaches to learning about and solving problems (these are general comments):

  • In the West: problems are learned about and solved in a conference room or in a boardroom; there is distance. Decisions are made from a PowerPoint presentation and Excel spreadsheets.
  • In the East: problems are learned about and solved where it actually happens; in manufacturing, fulfillment and distribution, and like occupations — that means on the factory or shop floor.

In general, data and conclusions codified in PowerPoint presentations are steps removed from the actual phenomena.”

The Execution: How often do we avoid getting personally into the details of work, relying on someone else (usually a less experienced team member) to do the heavy lifting and give us the 30,000-foot summary? Thinking that we need to be “strategic,” do we operate at too high and removed a level? As a chief audit executive, I find it incredibly valuable to go directly to the people doing the work we’re auditing and hear them talk about it, and to equip myself on unfamiliar topics (IT especially!) as well as I can through research (online learning) and networking with subject-matter experts so that I can ask better questions and make better-informed decisions. As a retailer, I’m lucky to be able to visit my “shop floor” any day of the week and see what’s going right — and what isn’t. I’ve found it’s not the devil that’s in the details — it’s the insights.

We know that internal auditors need to sharpen our business acumen to be seen as valued advisers and enhance our credibility. Put your boots on. Every once in a while, go and see for yourself.

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