Gemba Walks


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So what will you see in a Gemba Walk? Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting was my guest Business901 podcast, We want People to Go See for Themselves. This is a transcription of the podcast.

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Gemba Walks

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast Transcription Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Gemba Walks Guest was Bob PetruskaRelated Podcast: We want People to Go See for Themselves Sponsored by We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting brings 24 years ofexperience helping a variety of customers including Health Care,Aerospace, Automotive, Food, Office and Service industriesimprove their performance. He is a consultant, presenter, trainerand published author.Bob holds a Masters of Science inManufacturing Systems, and a Bachelorsof Science in Industrial Technology. He isa Senior Member of ASQ and holds a SixSigma Black Belt Certification. He is also amember of ISPI. An active Toastmaster,Robert recently completed his CompetentCommunicator requirements, and isvolunteering as a webmaster. He alsovolunteers his time at ASQ and theMetrolina Association for the Blind in NorthCarolina.His new book, Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters. It is heavilyillustrated and includes a CD of his innovative “placemats”designed to provide stepping stones on a development path foryour team to achieve a competitive advantage. We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Transcription of PodcastJoe Dager: Welcome, everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host ofthe Business901 Podcast. With me today is Robert "Bob"Petruska. Hes an independent consultant who helps organizationsidentify and remove barriers that prevent employees fromdelivering an exceptional customer experience. Bob is an avidpresenter and; through presenting, Bob was contacted and gotthe opportunity to write the book "Gemba Walks for ServiceExcellence."Bob, Id like to welcome you. Tell me the story of how you endedup writing a book.Bob Petruska: Hi Joe, Its awesome to be on your podcast. Ireally enjoy them. How did I get to write a book? It wasinteresting. I was passionate about service, and I was veryinterested to understand how some companies really seem toknock it out of the park.It really doesnt take much to differentiate yourself in the servicebusiness, because were so accustomed to such pitiful levels ofservice. When a company seems to click on all cylinders and getit right, it really stands out for us.I was given the opportunity to present at ASQs Lean Six SigmaConference in Phoenix, Arizona, about a year and a half ago, andit was very interesting what happened. I put a Gemba Walk up onthe walls, and basically, I had the conference room, if you canimagine it, was like an art gallery of all these different picturesand hand drawings. People came in and they were...Bob: "Wow, what is this and how could it work?" and so on.Bottom line was that people; I think, really resonated with the We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsmessage that I was giving. We had this very interesting thinghappen. About 10 minutes into the presentation, the back dooropened and a number of people just entered in. Im like, "Whereare these latecomers coming from?"...It was the weirdest thing for me, because I was so surprised andthey were wearing such nice clothing. Ultimately, I found outlater; it was people that were tweeting during the presentationthat were saying, "This is so cool. This is so wonderful. This is sofun," and it was attracting others in concurrent sessions to leaveit and come to my session.Later, I met one of the latecomers, who was Michael Sinocchifrom Productivity Press, and he said hes been to a lot ofpresentations, and he did not understand what was going on inmost of the presentations.The bottom line was that hed told me that he could really followwhat was going on. Amazingly, there was that situation thathappened, and I guess I owe it to the people in the audience whowere tweeting during the presentation for me to ultimately writea book.Joe: Thats interesting. Social media even plays a role today inconferences.Bob: Exactly. Ive been really thrilled to find out how Twitter wasusing...At that point, I didnt even know how Twitter was beingused, but then it dawned on me that what people are doing istheyre telling their followers whats going on in that moment oftime.Joe: I dont know how this will come out, but its meant as ahuge compliment. When I looked at your placemats, which wellget into in a little bit, you proved that you did not need to be aPicasso. We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBob: I take that as a compliment too. Part of the thing aboutdrawing, its really authentic, and its from the heart. My drawingsare messy and imperfect, but they capture your imaginationbecause of their imperfections. I think that draws people to me,because they know its authentic.Joe: I always think the more precise it is...its like a prototype. Ifyou send a completed product to someone, they wont do muchwith it. But if you send them, a product that is duct tapedtogether and have drawings attached to it, theyll take it apartand play with it. Youll learn so much more. Thats what I thoughtabout some of the information you had. I wanted to play with it.Bob: Im thrilled. Thanks for the complement. Thats awesome.Joe: Tell me, is the book a description of the placemats? Howdoes the placemats fit in with the book?Bob: What the idea of the placemats was to provide theleadership, the team leader if you were a step-by-stepmethodology to follow to raise the performance of the entireteam. Basically, instead of using a PowerPoint--Im pretty muchanti-PowerPoint, because weve been Power-Pointed to death. Butinstead of using that, the placemat guides a conversation. Itprovides enough information for a team leader to take their teamthough an hour-long meeting and help them reach some higherlevel of performance.We start very easy, but then it gets harder quick, as people learndifferent skills. Brainstorming is one of those, and then weexplore other ideas like the Kano model, and how do youorganize for excellence, and whats your value proposition? Theteam gets immersed in an education process thats beingdelivered to them by the team leader. We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: Your book, "Gemba Walks for Service Excellence," is itreally getting out of the factory? Getting out and seeingcustomers? Is that the main message that you send in it?Bob: The main message from the book is that theres anopportunity for people to identify new things that will resonatewith customers. By this, I mean delighters. There are things thatare unexpected by the customer, but would really cause customerdelight to occur. OConnell calls them "delighters." What I waschallenging people to do with the book was to take a GembaWalk. Ive got several in there that I show people. Basically, wego on a Gemba Walk together, several of them.But look at it from the standpoint of what could you apply to yourown business that would increase customer delight, which wouldthen lead to this ultimate goal, which is word-of-mouthadvertising and increased business.Youve got increased profit. Youve got increased revenue andtop-line growth, if you can innovate faster than your competitors.Thats basically it, in a nutshell.Joe: When you address Gemba Walks, the old story of go andsee for yourself, what stops an organization from doing that? Whydo they want to stay internalized? Is the fear of the interaction orwhat have you found out?Bob: Its very interesting that organizations tend to manage byreports. What Ive found is that, when you ask a leader, "Hey,why dont you get out more often and find out whats reallyhappening?" Theyll tell you that, "Im overwhelmed with thecurrent requirements that Im being asked to figure out."Complicated Byzantine financial reports are a great example of alegacy that goes back, probably to the 1800s. We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsUnfortunately, many managers are just chasing this rearviewdata of how the organization performed to find reasons orrationales for changes in performance. Unfortunately, thatrequires so much time sitting in the office that its very difficultfor them to come out.We really need a disciplined approach where a leader says, "Youknow what, Im going to actually put it on my calendar to go outand do a Gemba Walk, to understand whats going on in the frontlines."Because thats where the action is, thats where the customer is,and thats where I want people to focus their energies andefforts.Joe: What youre saying is really, "Get out of the car. Quitlooking in the mirror, and go to the front of the car and look backat the car."Bob: Or look in the parking lot to see whats around you. I reallywant people to not only look internally on what their operationsare, but I think theres a lot to be gained by looking outside. Wetalk about benchmarking and benchmarking is great, butnormally benchmarking is within the same industry. What Imchallenging people to do is to go outside of your own industry andlook there for the new delighters.If you tried benchmarking, you can only get it as good as theleader. You cant really leapfrog that. Youre always playing catchup. But there are truly innovative companies, I think, out there,and theyre stretching the boundaries for whats possible.Joe: Thinking of it as a service organization or a manufacturer orsomething, I hear people come in and tell me, "I got to get out."I got a lot of stuff to do. I mean, Im just flooded. Ive got waytoo much stuff the way it is. How do I prioritize? I mean is there a We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemskey there that says, "Gee, two hours of my day I can do GembaWalks." Should it be that high a priority?Bob: Well, I dont think its necessary to spend two hours a daydoing Gemba Walks, necessarily. But I think that there needs tobe this thought process that improving the work is just asimportant as doing the work. If you believe in continuousimprovement, then you are going to be looking for ways toimprove the work. Gemba Walks is one of the great tools,especially when you start looking in the service organization, toidentify things that will really improve for the customers.Customer feedback is extremely important. Unfortunately, manytimes, its, "A day late, a dollar short."How can you get real-time customer feedback? How can you getcustomer feedback during the point of sale, during that momentof truth? How do you do that and how do you get real fastreactions to it to create that delight?There are ways to do that. I think there are a lot of newtechnologies that are coming out now, that will enable people toget a much better, clearer picture of where their customersheads are at. This will help guide organizations with kind of thatpriority of where they need to put their time and energy andeffort.Joe: A lot of the things that we talk about...whats the differencefrom the internal data that I gather, surveys, focus groups,different things like that than looking at it from a Gemba Walkperspective where I go see? Can you name me some of the bigdifferences between the two different ways to evaluate myservice?Bob: Great, yeah. When you look at the data thats internal, itsvery internally focused. Its focused on maybe the internal costs.For example, in a call center, it may be about how long are we We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsspending with our customers. A Gemba Walk, youre notnecessarily focusing on that, youre focusing on what does thecustomer need or what are the customers problems you aretrying to solve?A great example of this is a company called Inuit. Its a softwarecompany. They decided that they werent going to put their low-level people on the front lines answering calls to understand howthe customers were using their products.Instead, they put their top-tier programmers and a CEO, who atthe time was the founder of that, is Scott Cook. He decided, "Imgoing to invest in this."The competitors thought he was crazy for doing that, but hethought it was so important for their company to get thisfirst-hand data and have their programmers really understandwhat frustrations the customers are having, that they woulddesign future products with those things in mind and improve it,and thereby reduce the need for those costs to come in the firstplace.Its a different way of prioritizing and strategizing what you do asa company. There are some companies I call and there is a cellphone carrier whom I have, I wont name them, but the firstthing that I have happen to me when I call them is I get acomputer.The computer gives me these 10 options, and Ive got to listen toall 10 before it allows me to select number one, you know? Then,its going to transfer me to another computer and so on and soforth.As a customer, I do a Gemba Walk on it and the problem, thereason why Im calling them is theyve been double billing me,and none of the systems in the cell phone carriers controls pickup the fact that Im double billed. I have to call them. Its very, We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsvery frustrating as a customer when you have certainorganizations that really put the wrong metric in front.Its not about the customer experience. Its about controllingcosts. I think the difference in the thought process is around that,and I think that needs to change.Joe: One of the key things that jumped out at me in yourdiscussion, you talked just briefly about innovation. Innovationreally comes from that customer experience, doesnt it?Bob: Yeah, and Apple is really interesting as we learn moreabout it. There is a trial going on currently with Samsung. Itspeeling back the onion giving us new information and newinsights on how Apple operates their innovation process. Theyrevery team orientated. When you look at innovation in service, youcant do it in a vacuum, which is the reason why the Gemba Walkcant be done like the old undercover boss, where the CEO goesin disguise and incognito and tries to go behind the lines andwork as an employee.Thats not a Gemba Walk. Some of the principles are similar, butGemba Walks are done out in the open. Theres one difference.The CEO is not necessarily involved in it.We want people to really go see for themselves and come up withsomething new and innovative and learn from someone else, seehow that could be applied to their own industry.For example, if youre in the healthcare business, and yourebenchmarking another healthcare, you might benchmark theMayo Clinic or whatever it is, but whos benchmarking the hotelindustry from the healthcare? What could you learn about thecustomer experience through the eyes of checking in at a hotel?I think whats really key about the Gemba Walk is putting you inthe shoes of being the customer, and you end up feeling like you We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsare a customer. Would you enjoy the experience that youvecreated in that service design? Thats just a question for people.What can you do to design your service system to do a better jobto delight customers?Joe: Back to instead of looking at a car, looking at a parking lot.If youre a healthcare facility, maybe you need to take a GembaWalk at the Ritz?Bob: Exactly! If you think about it, they have a check-inprocess, right? Theres also a check-in process at the hospital.When you go to the hospital, theres that insurance. Youve got toshow them the insurance card, how many times is it, nine timesor 10? OK, Im just kind of jabbing them a little. Theres that.How many times do you have to write down that you dont smokecigarettes? By the time you get down to the third floor, youvehad to tell them you dont smoke cigarettes 10 times by then. Itsjust a question.Therere so many opportunities to improve that experience. Beingon time is another one. How long should it take to get through?How do you manage the customers expectations throughout theprocess? When youre standing in a big, long line, the last thing,you want to do is think that youre ignored, and that you have noearthly idea when its going to be your turn.Joe: I think thats a good point, because you can go to Disney,you can go to the Ritz; you can go to some of the kiosks at theairport and learn from them and apply them to your business.Bob: Thank you. Yeah, its really about engaging the team. Iwas at a resort this summer, down in Myrtle Beach, SouthCarolina, which is our favorite vacation place. The resort hasreally ratcheted it up. I noticed it over the past year. Theyve hadsome consultants come in and help them. One thing Ive noticedis employees starting to take initiative. This resort was very funnyin that they fired some of their worst customers, and they fired We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemssome of their worst staff, and they replaced them with friendly,outgoing people. It was just amazing to see that investment intalent. In the process, I noticed people taking initiative.I asked a young lady, I said, "Hey, what are you doing today?"She said, "Well, this is what Im doing. Im taking care of thecustomers this way."I said, "What were you doing yesterday??"She said "No."I said, "Alright, well, tell me how you got permission to do this?"She says, "Well, I thought of the idea, thought customers mightappreciate this," which, by the way, I did, and she said, "I wentto my boss and told her what I was planning to do, and my bosstold me to go ahead and do it."Now, thats the key, people feeling empowered to do anexperiment on the spot to improve customer service and that hasto come from a culture that managers are receptive to the ideasof people. I think Gemba Walks is a great way to open the doorfor that.Joe: The thing that is interesting to me, as time goes on here, isthat Lean has transformed itself from this process methodology toa people thinking methodology, for lack of a better word. Aswere gotten more technology, were putting more emphasis ondeveloping people and leaving people react to other peoplebetter.Bob: When we look at a team of people, they really need tounderstand how they all work together, and weve got to haverock solid processes and systems to support them. When we lookat a Gemba Walk, we want to look at whats going on behind thescenes. Its one thing to see service excellence occur where its We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsreally outstanding and it blows us away, but what peaks myinterest is whats going on behind the curtain. Its there thatthings start to shake out.As you mentioned Apple earlier, Apples had that curtain drawnpretty tightly. In fact, on the iPhone, they had a team of 1,000developers working on it, and they had a special floor that wascompletely sealed off, cameras in the hallways, special ID cardsand everything, and no one was allowed to talk about it. Thatsreally building that competitive advantage.I think we, in our industry, could learn a lot from the differentservice providers if we could see whats going on behind there.Thats rare to do, so we have to pay attention closely to whatsgoing on where we can see whats out in front of us during thosemoments of truth but imagine the systems that are taking placebehind it.Another way we can find out is by reaching out to the people. Ivehad very good success with just calling them up and askingpeople, "I noticed that you did this, and it was fantastic. I love it.Tell me more."I will get to the right person and then learn how they managed tobuild that team and how they managed to have seamlesshandoffs and people working together seamlessly and veryeffectively.Joe: Youre also saying, though, that we have to create theteam, and that team just doesnt come from training. A lot of it ishiring.Bob: Yeah and there are two ways to look at hiring, Joe. I thinkthe first is do you hire for attitude or aptitude? Unfortunately,what happens in the service industry is that top talent, those withthe attitude and aptitude together, are the most sought after, andso it becomes a shark tank, where people are fighting over that We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemstop talent and trying to steal from their competitors and it raisesthe cost and so on.But I think that, when you take a step back and look at it, itsreally the attitude that matters most, aren’t it? The aptitude issomething you can train people on, but the attitude should be thepoint of admission.When you look at building teams, it is very difficult to hire theright people, no doubt, but if you had a choice, it would be theattitude over aptitude when youre talking about service any dayof the week.Joe: Weve touched upon so many different facets of theorganization, and we started out this conversation with theGemba Walk. The Gemba Walk touches everybody.Bob: Yeah. Thats the funny thing about it. The Gemba Walk iseasy. Its just, "Were going to do this thing. Were going to do itas a team, and we follow the entire step-by-step guide." Butthats what I say. Youve got to peel back that onion. Its onething to talk about Apple and say, "Wow; theyre fantastic.Theyre fabulous. Look what theyve done and look how theyveinnovated," and so on, but what you dont know is whats goingon behind the scenes.Thats the reason why those placemats are so valuable, and thereason why you would want to buy the book is because of that.Because you get the placemats and you get the step-by-stepguide to take your team and kind of peel back that onion and lookbehind the curtain and create that infrastructure yourself that willsupport an exceptional experience for your customers.Joe: Are the placemats A3s or kind of your version of an A3?Can you explain one of them? We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBob: Oh, thanks. Thats a great question. I look at the placematas a substitute for PowerPoint. Instead of giving a team 10 or 20PowerPoints, I have one placemat. On the placemat, its veryboiled down to the essence of the information needed.On one part, therere some definitions. On another part, theremight be a drawing, a hand drawing with some more description,and how do get started. It even gives you a place where you canrecord your notes.The idea with the placemats is that every team member gets aplacemat that would point right in front of them, like aplacemat...was the focus conversation, which the focusconversation is about pulling the wisdom of the team. If all youdo as a team leader is talk, and all the teams members do islisten, youve got interaction and zero possibility for innovation.But if you can, at the end, start engaging people with thesequestions that I put here, using that way to pull information andideas, better ideas, new ideas come out.Ill tell you something Ive learned. People dont argue with theirown ideas or their own data. They will do what they can to makeit work and if its wrong...Sometimes, Ill let the team make a mistake as long as it is notmission critical. The reason why I do that is because I want themto learn from it. Maybe its not the best idea in the world. Maybe Ihave a better idea as a team leader, but Im going to bite mytongue, and Im going to say, "You know what, you guys? I wantyou to try that and tell us how that goes."They learn. What we are after is organizational learning, inessence.Joe: What does ORID stand for? We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBob: ORID is the art of the focused conversation. That is fromthat book. This stands for Objective, which is what. Reflective,which is the gut. Interpretative, which is the so what. D,Decisional, which is now what. Ultimately, we want people tocome up with actions and to take the organization in a step in theright direction. By asking those questions in that order, weengage all the people on the team and there is someaccountability at the end because now we want to know. Whatare you going to do now?Joe: What would you like to add that maybe I didnt ask?Bob: Im interested in seeing all service industries improve. As acustomer, Ive got a vested interest in it. I am a customer of theservice industry. People have choices.I think theres a lot of room to improve overall. I like to helporganizations improve, so my ultimate goal is to help my clientsin my consulting practice to improve their operations.Joe: Whats the best way to contact you, Bob?Bob: At this moment, it would be my Gmail account, which isgembawalks, G-E-M-B-A-W-A-L-K-S, and mywebsite, which is All one word,B-O-B-P-E-T-R-U-S-K-A.comJoe: Well, I would like to thank you very much. I enjoyed it; Ienjoyed the book and I highly recommend people to take a quickview of it. Therere a lot of colored pictures in it and differentinformation. "Gemba Walks for Service Excellence," and itsavailable, of course, from CRC Press and Amazon. Id like tothank you for your time and look forward to talking to you again,Bob.Bob: Well, thank you very much, Joe. Its my pleasure.Appreciate it. We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901
  17. 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Business901 Phone: 260-918-0438 Skype: Biz901 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Website: Twitter: @business901Joe Dager is president of Business901, a firm specializing inbringing the continuous improvement process to the sales andmarketing arena. He takes his process thinking of over thirtyyears in marketing within a wide variety of industries and appliesit through Lean Marketing and Lean Service Design.Visit the Lean Marketing Lab: Being part of this community willallow you to interact with like-minded individuals andorganizations, purchase related tools, use some free ones andreceive feedback from your peers. Marketing with Lean Book Series Lean Sales and Marketing Workshop Lean Service Design Workshop We want People to Go See for Themselves Copyright Business901