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walking the talk

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Revisiting Management by Walking About (MBWA)

Some twenty years ago, just after I was hired by General Electric Capital and tasked to implement something as strange to a bank as continuous improvement in their newly acquired, yet dusty German banking environment, life was not walk in the park anymore. Gaining the skills for the new job with the help of the outstanding GE Capital people development engine was challenging but rewarding. But I never learned about Management by Walking About (MBWA).

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Management by Walking About

“People leave bad managers, not companies …,” is one of the results of a famous Gallup survey at corporations in the US. This does not mean we have “bad” people as managers. It rather means that not every high-performing employee is really suitable for a managerial position. Other surveys have shown that less than 30% of high performers have the ability to do well as supervisor.

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Gemba? I was There

When Uwe asked me whether I would like to go to Gemba in order to help understand the client’s process we have been studying, I looked it up on Google. To my surprise, Gemba is not a secluded, unknown part of Singapore. Gemba (现场) is a Japanese word that means “the real place”. Japanese detectives use Gemba to point to the crime scene.

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Manager as Coach

To be a good coach is hard work. Coaching requires a set of skills that need to be built. The journey as a coach is a long but rewarding one. How will we know when we have arrived? “With the best of leaders, when the work is done, the project is completed, the people all say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” Lao Tzu

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