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Genchi Genbutsu

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Genchi Genbutsu is the Japanese principle of going to and directly observing a location and its conditions in order to understand and solve any problems faster and more effectively. The phrase literally translated means “go and see for yourself” and is a part of the Toyota Way philosophy.

The phrase and concept of Genchi Genbutsu was coined by Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno and is an important principle of the Toyota Production System. Genchi Genbutsu is a fundamental principle that Toyota uses in design and manufacturing to find causal factors to problems or to unexpected boons, like increased worker production.

Ohno took the position that, while reports and statistics were useful in monitoring conditions, a person must physically travel to see and truly understand an environment. Ohno felt that a worker had to be immersed in a process in order to absorb everything there is to be learned about it. As a first day lesson for new engineers, Ohno would have them stand on the production floor, observe and then report to him everything they saw. Those who didn’t learn enough would have to repeat the process.

The idea of Genchi Genbutsu applies not only to workers like Toyota’s engineers, but to analysts, executives and managers alike. The principle is an adopted part of lean manufacturing and lean management principles. Genchi Genbutsu is seen a wise practice for decision makers of all types.

This was last updated in November 2018

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