Dec 13, 2007

The gemba is the dojo at Toyota, says Peter Abilla

Peter Abilla had an interesting post in his Shmula blog last August about how learning works at Toyota: The gemba is the dojo. He says that having a new employee work on the line for an hour before training creates the humbling realization that there is a lot to learn to perform an operation correctly.

The dojo, if you have taken any martial arts training, or watched any martial arts movies, is the place of training. After the quick exposure to the gemba, the employee goes to the dojo in the right frame of mind to start learning.

The gemba, where value is added or where the truth is found, tells you that there is much to be learned. And the dojo doesn’t have to be a special place with a training simulation. Attention in the gemba, whether it’s the plant floor, the road you drive to work on, or the book you are reading, leads to knowledge.

Peter relates the Toyota way of learning to his exploration of Wing Chun, which has led to his study of the Chinese classics, starting with Confucius. He finds the ancient wisdom that learning and order start with the cultivation of being sincere in thought and investigating all things.

Peter describes these insights much better than I – check out the post at http://www.shmula.com/422/the-gemba-is-the-dojo. If you have time, look around the rest of Peter’s Shmula site. You never know what you’re going to find – he can range from queuing theory to Confucius to adopting a baby -- and his professional background is awesome.

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