Candidates at the Gemba


Video – Breaking News Videos from

Sort of a funny video (linked above) on CNN/Headline News about presidential candidates being “clueless” about what they're seeing on the campaign trail and factory tours. The Headline News version (which I can't find online) had overlays that read:

  • “Clueless on the Campaign Trail”
  • “Candidates often don't know what they're looking at on business tours”
  • “Candidates have some silly questions, don't seem to understand the answers”
  • “Candidates do a lot of nodding when they don't understand tours”

Maybe Headline News doesn't rank high on the “respect for candidates” scale, but they're certainly fair game for mocking.

Now, a highly choreographed plant tour is not exactly the same as true “gemba time” where leaders walk (or just stand) and observe the process, talking to people in a less scripted (or non-scripted) way.

It can be tough being in a gemba when you don't really know the process. I know I've had my “clueless” moments the first time I've done through a particular hospital department. Even your own company executives might not really know what's going on… so to those of you hosting gemba visits, please be patient. If the visitor is really trying, be patient with them.

When Sen. McCain (left, click for larger view) was looking through a microscope and asked what he saw, the host explained they were colon cancer cells. McCain said “There are no stupid questions, right?” That's far better than pretending you know what's going on, don't you think?

Subscribe via RSS | Lean Blog Main Page | Podcast | Twitter @MarkGraban

Please check out my main blog page at

The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

, , , on the author's copyright.


Get New Posts Sent To You

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.