Volume 7 Number 8 - August 11, 2009

If you know a company — customer, supplier, friend, or your own — that could benefit
from improved operations, please email a link to this site or let us know.
Your best interest is our best interest.

The Finish Strong® monthly e-newsletter is for business leaders who recognize Operations as a strategic function that creates competitive advantage, profitability and brand loyalty to the marketplace.


Are you familiar with the Socratic Method? Do your actions indicate that you've chosen to relegate it to history rather than utilize its power? Is it:

  • you're too impatient to allow true understanding by others?
  • you succumb to pressure to "just give me the answer"?
  • you feel that if you know an answer you should tell it to those who don't?
  • you feel that, due to position, you're supposed to know and must assure people that you do?
  • you believe your answer is THE answer so by speaking it you can stop wasting time discussing WRONG answers?
  • your need to act overrides your need to learn or teach before acting?
  • you believe the Socratic Method is a bunch of hooey?

Every time you give someone an answer to their question, do you:

  • allow responsibility to shift from him/her to you?
  • limit his/her ability to learn and solve problems?
  • allow him/her to believe he/she is not capable of discerning answers?
  • reinforce the false belief that you are the source of all answers?
  • stop wasting time and get them back to work?


Gemba is a Japanese word that loosely translated means "where it is happening." In studying lean enterprise, you will often hear "go to gemba." That means go to where the activity you are discussing actually happens, meaningfully observe what actually happens and then discuss.

Business tradition seems to call for meeting in conference rooms to discuss things that happen (or should, but don't) somewhere else. Away from the real activity, we discuss our opinions of what we think actually happens. "Drive by" observations rarely reveal the real issues, but frequently create false beliefs about what is happening.

Observable facts, which are what gemba provides, are what is important to moving forward. Until you've invested some serious time observing the process at gemba, you are unlikely to be discussing the facts, the real reasons, and the real opportunities in a conference room. Go to Gemba. Then spend some time there observing process. Say 2 hours to start. Observe, listen, and learn. Then improve. Otherwise, it's just change


The Starting Pistol

Chinese Proverb:
“If we don't change our direction we're likely to end up where we're headed.”

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"...survival of recent economic conditions is not enough; we must evaluate how far we were blown off course, reset our direction, and move forward at a speed that makes up for lost time."


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For reprint permission, just give Rebecca a call at 216-486-9570
or e-mail her at [email protected]