Top positive review
Every manufacturing and service professional should read it.
on February 18, 1998
Gemba is the place where value-adding activities take place. Decisive results can be achieved by focusing improvement activities in gemba. The author encourages managers and professionals to spend time in gemba to see what is happening and to encourage the front-line workers. General George S. Patton could easily be described as a gemba man: he encouraged officers to go to the scene of the action instead of trying to "lead" from a headquarters in the rear. He also recognized the role of the frontline worker (soldier) in achieving results. As a result, the troops under Patton's command won amazing and seemingly impossible victories. Companies that want to hold their market share and capture their competitors' must understand this lesson. (Imai does not discuss Patton, but the historical parallel is obvious.) My books "The Way of discuss General Carl von Clausewitz' "friction" in a workplace context. Friction includes seemingly minor inefficiencies and problems whose combined effects degrade the organization's performance. Imai uses the word "muda" (waste), and stresses the need to suppress it. Tom Peters says, "The accumulation of little items, each too 'trivial' to trouble the boss with, is a prime cause of miss-the-market delays." (from "Thriving on Chaos.") Muda is essentially the same thing as friction. Imai also mentions "muri" (strain), which arises from inadequate training, poor ergonomic design, and inadequate preventive maintenance. Muri is another form of friction. Imai also discusses tools like 5S-CANDO (CANDO = clearing up, arranging, neatness, discipline, and ongoing improvement). 5S-CANDO is another tool for reducing friction. Imai discusses Just-in-Time (JIT) as a tool for reducing inventory and improving product flow. Readers of Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox's "The Goal" will appreciate this section. Synchronous flow manufacturing (SFM) is treated in detail in "Leading the Way to Competitive Excellence: The Harris Mountaintop Case Study". The idea of JIT/SFM is to produce goods in response to customer demand, not to keep people and equipment busy. Imai discussess a mattress factory that uses this approach: it not only keeps inventory down, but it can offer far more product lines. This is a key tool for going after niche (small, specialized, customized) markets. William A. Levinson