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Vishwadeep Khatri

Genchi Genbutsu

Genchi Genbutsu is a Japanese term and one of the key principles in Toyota Production System which means translates to "real location, real thing". In common parlance it means "Go and See"

 

An application oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Natwar Lal on 6th November 2019. 

 

Applause for the respondents - Natwar Lal, Jayaram T.

 

Also review the answer provided by Mr Venugopal R, Benchmark Six Sigma's in-house expert.

Question

Q. 208  While Genchi Gembutsu seems to make perfect sense in manufacturing, how do you infer its relevance in highly intangible services like trouble shooting in Software Development or issues found in e-commerce platforms? You may like to provide more examples of relevance from other service sector.

 

The question will remain open for responses till 8th November, Friday, 5:00 PM IST/ 11:30 AM GMT/ 4:30 AM PST. You may use any sources to frame your answer, however, the answer must be written in your own language. Mention your information and image source, where applicable. Plagiarized responses will not be approved. Answers submitted as images will not be approved either.The approved responses will be visible after the question is locked on 8th November 2019, Friday, 5:00 PM IST/ 11:30 AM GMT/ 4:30 AM PST. 

 

The best answer will be selected and points will be added to the Excellence Scoreboard - https://www.benchmarksixsigma.com/forum/excellence-scoreboard/

 

All questions so far can be seen here - https://www.benchmarksixsigma.com/forum/lean-six-sigma-business-excellence-questions/ 

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Genchi Genbutsu - "Go and See" to investigate the issue and truly understand the customer situation. It basically refers to go and observe the process where the actual value is being added. As the question suggests, it makes perfect sense to use in in manufacturing however it is a myth that it is only used in manufacturing. As a concept Genchi Genbutsu is domain and industry agnostic.

 

While preparing process maps, we usually tell the participants to create a map of "What the process is" and not "What it should be" or "what you think it is". One of the best means of understanding "What the process is" is to pick up a transaction and do a walkthrough of the process with it. This is Genchi Genbutsu for you as when you do a walkthrough of the process with the transaction you actually go to the process and see how it works. 

 

I am providing some examples below where the idea is same "Go and See".

 

1. Issue Resolution: when you raise an issue, the first thing that the agent / engineer will do is try to replicate the issue. They might do a screen share or take control of your computer and replicate the issue to understand where to attack and what to do

 

2. Software Testing: The first one happens when the code is compiled. The compiler does a walkthrough of the entire code and highlights the section of the codes that could not be compiled due to incorrect coding. Second happens during the multiple stages of testing - unit testing, integration testing and UAT. If a particular test case fails and the code is sent back to developer, the developer will first recreate the situation to see the failure (this is Genchi Genbutsu)

 

3. Medical conditions: Various invasive and non-invasive screening methods are used to first go to the specific location in the body and see the extent of the problem. E.g. X-ray, MRI, CT-scans, angiography etc.

 

4. Servicing of car: when you take your car for its regular service, the mechanic will first take a test drive of the car. What he is trying to do is to get a feel of how the car is driving so that he could pinpoint the issue which he will not be able to do unless he drives it himself.

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Benchmark Six Sigma Expert View by Venugopal R

Genchi Gembutsu translates into “Go and See”. It is a term that has emerged from the Toyota Production System. Japanese leaders like Taiichi Ohno insisted that engineers need to visit Gemba and observe to see how value is created and how waste gets generated. The context in these situations was a manufacturing shop floor, or an actual usage of and expectations from a product by the end customer.

 

In many of the emerged businesses like software development, IT services and e-commerce, we may not have a comparable ‘shop-floor’ atmosphere. However, we have customers, customer expectations, customer usage related experiences, competitive offerings etc. Similarly, we have design teams, operations teams, customer relations teams etc.

 

Any software being developed is meant to interface with a process of human to serve some purpose. Many times, we see that there is a ‘requirement’ document that is created by the user (could be a internal or external) based on which the development commences. The developed software product seldom comes right the first time and will require more iterations of rework until it meets the user’s requirements.

 

Applying the principle underlying ‘Genchi Gembustsu’ is very important to reduce such wastage of effort and resources.

 

For example, imagine a software development exercise for creating a web interface for potential customers who want to approach a bank for any product. The developer would have to feel the requirements by

  1. Becoming a potential customer himself / herself
  2. Obtain first hand inputs from a representative sample of potential customers
  3. Study the similar facilities provided by competitors in the market
  4. Visit the recipients of these inputs (could be the sales team or contact center) and understand the how best the inputs should be received by them for further actions.
  5. Possible areas for ambiguous interpretations and to improve the user-friendliness
  6. Adaptability of the portal with multiple applications and mobile devices.
  7. Ability to reach through popular social medias.
  8. Areas where flexibility of coding is important, considering possibilities of ongoing modifications and up gradations.

 

The above are just examples to illustrate the possibilities. With adequate involvement of right teams and brainstorming, one could arrive at the points as most appropriate for the situation.

 

Taking example of an e-commerce platform, the most obvious Gembas will be the ‘end-user’ and all the locations where the customer requests and inputs are made use of.. viz. the teams involved in processing of order, logistics, payment and delivery. As discussed in above examples, customized list of check points has to be evolved.

 

Direct knowledge and feel of the inbound and outbound users will also help in developing appropriate ‘test cases’ for effective and efficient UATs.

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Genchi Genbutsu : Going to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions, build consensus and achieve goals.

 

This is applicable for all workplace be it a production floor, Manufacturing unit, BPO, KPO or hospitality services, until the leader understand the facts first hand he/she may not be able to make the right decision.

 

Genchi Genbutsu emphasizes the knowledge and learning to be gained from being where the work is performed and reveals the true picture, helps leaders to make better decision

 

‘Toyota Production System creator Taiichi Ohno applied this principle by taking new engineering graduates to the shop floor, drawing a chalk circle, and asking each to stand in the circle and observe. Ohno’s key message to these engineers was that the best way — and really the only way — to understand what happens in the factory is to spend time there’

As companies grow larger and more complex, decision-making tend to happen in meeting rooms and boardrooms – rather than in the trenches. This creates a distance between the problem at hand and its proposed solutionWhen knowledge passes through various levels of the organisation, the translation loss can be immense.

 

Genchi Genbutsu is a plan of action, leaders get the whole story instead of just a part of it, gaining valuable pieces that may be lost when information is passed through multiple hands and travels up the corporate ladder.

 

Witnessing an operational problem first hand sticks with you. (applicable for any service industry we need to get the first hand details about the problem)

 

It enables you to get to the root cause, rather than addressing superficial symptoms. Performing root cause with the first hand information helps the leaders to nail the actual root cause rather than performing an analysis on the provided information

 

It helps leaders engage with employees, deepening connections across the organisation. leaders go and see the work area will be able to communicate with employees and understand the real issues, This will provide an opportunity for the leaders to share their knowledge and also aid them to take some strategic decisions

 

 Observation becomes a daily reality – not a special event. Along with learning, leaders can also teach and empower employees on the work area.

 

It allows to consistently identify and address “hidden” inefficiencies. 

 

The above artifacts suits for any type of industry whether it is service or production, Moreover in hospitality, food industry and hospitals Genchi Genbutsu could make a big difference as small problems/issues raised by customers/patients if not addressed properly could have big brand damage to the organization.

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Natwar Lal has provided four different service sector scenarios of Genchi Gembutsu and he is the deserving winner for this question. 

 

Do have a look at the response by Benchmark Expert - Venugopal. 

 

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