Genchi Gembutsu

Definition of Genchi Gembutsu:

A Japanese phrase that translates in English to “go and see for yourself” is a central tenet of the Toyota Production System.

The idea behind genchi gembutsu is that business decisions need to be based on first-hand knowledge, not the understanding of another person which might be biased, outdated or incorrect. Problems are best understood and solved where they occur – for example, on the factory floor. Rather than looking at information from a distance – in an office, for example – regarding process issues, managers should go see for themselves what is happening.

In my Toyota interviews, when I asked what distinguishes the Toyota Way from other management approaches, the most common first response was genchi gembutsu – whether I was in manufacturing, product development, sales, distribution, or public affairs. You cannot be sure you really understand any part of any business problem unless you go and see for yourself firsthand. It is unacceptable to take anything for granted or to rely on the reports of others.

– Jeffrey K. Liker, The Toyota Way. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. p. 223.

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