Way back in the day when I was traveling all over the country as an interpreter for Japanese consultants I imagined what it would take to remove the non-value added part of this process: the travel. I imagined a the Japanese sensei walking around with a TV camera and me with a monitor, headphones and mic, thousands of miles away. Thankfully that never happened, and my time on the gemba was a great education.
Interpreting between languages, unlike document translation, requires that you can hear and be heard. While interpretation via phone or wireless headsets is possible, it is not practical for interpreting on the noisy manufacturing shop floor during a lean consulting event. There is too much noise, context, body language and visual information needed to do the job successfully. Not to mention that This was back in the days before the internet browser was commonly used, much less live video feed via internet. Now that the technology is catching up, sometimes I wonder about the “virtual gemba consultant”.
The Lean Enterprise Institute is taking lean training online in an innovative way. If this experiment works, you will be able to go to the healthcare gemba virtually to learn what ThedaCare is doing with lean and hoshin kanri. The LEI are interactive video event is titled Strategy Deployment: The Key to Leading the Lean Enterprise. The video above is a preview for this two-part event, described as:
To truly become a lean organization, we need a new management system – and the “Strategy Deployment” (also known as hoshin kanri or policy deployment) method is a critical piece of lean management for Toyota, for other manufacturers, or for health systems like ThedaCare. Through this video experience, you will see ThedaCare’s leading lean practices at their “gemba” and you will interact with a leading figure in the development of the ThedaCare Improvement System.
The first part is the on-demand video training with people from ThedaCare talking about their use of strategy deployment while showing you examples of their work virtually from their gemba. The second part of the video training event features ThedaCare CEO Emeritus John Toussaint, MD answering questions from the viewers on February 24th, 2010 11AM EST. According to LEI this video event has intentionally not been highly produced. That is not only appropriate as an experiment, but also to give a feel for the genuine people and work at the virtual gemba.
Citing travel costs and the need for short-response, ad hoc support, several clients have asked us for the “virtual sensei”. So far we have responded by creating Gemba Academy to make high quality lean training videos widely available through online and DVD. The Lean Enterprise Institute’s experiment combines recorded video with live video streaming to allow for interaction with the expert on screen. This is an interesting experiment in lean learning.
How far away are we from a “virtual gemba walk” with the lean sensei watching a live feed from another city while the client is on the gemba with a head-mounted video camera and wireless internet transmitter? Good or bad idea? What do you think?