Lean by Any Means Necessary

We toured a tier 1 automotive supplier recently with a group of our customers on our Japan Kaikaku Experience. Our customers learned many things but there was one main lesson.
First, the General Manager who took us on the in-depth gemba walk advised us “as a manager, don’t be afraid to throw yourself into the gemba”. What he meant was that managing the workplace and people was a physical and not an intellectual activity and that it was important to physically be out in the actual workplace. As the General Manager, there was no more important work for him than to be out on the factory getting a feeling for the problems of the day and helping to coordinate the resources to solve problems and improve performance. The factory is often a hot, loud and dirty place and you will earn the respect and trust of the people who work there if you physically demonstrate that you are willing to be there with them solving problems.
He said he started out by asking people to clean up and met with resistance. Afterwards he himself got a rag and cleaned up and after a while his employees started saying “no boss, I’ll do that.” As a person who goes through many machine shops, this one was one of the cleanest I had ever been in.
It was a very good lesson in “just do it” instead of endless planning.