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The 3 Reals (San Gen Shugi)

I was recently asked to provide support to a client who was experiencing a routinely high level of overtime within the despatch/warehousing operation. This was a perfect opportunity to spend time in the gemba watching the level of activity as well as the ebb and flow of trucks and traffic that the team had to deal with. I spent my time walking the floor and watching the team work from 6am til 7pm across three shifts and I thoroughly enjoyed applying my industrial engineering skills - a combination of method study, waste observation and work measurement (clock bashing). Over the course of 3 weeks I helped the client to gain new insights into what was happening and how it could be improved But what was more revealing however was the realisation that the drivers of shopfloor practices and wastes could be found within the sales and order planning processes. Immediately it became obvious that changes also needed to be made here and so we rapidly expanded the scope of the project to ensure these areas were addressed. All in a days work but what does that have to do with 3 Reals?

People mostly talk of genba. For the unaware the genba is not just the factory floor! It is the place where the process is carried out-the real place! It is where we can observe and interact with the process that ultimately delivers value for the business. It is the place where people and equipment interact to effect a transformation of information into a supplied product or service. It is not a boardroom, website or teams meeting!

Few people, however talk about the the two other gens - genbutsu and the early 1990's my training in Japan, as part of Nissan's European Supplier Development Team was primarily out in the genba - often working weeks at a time in a variety of plants and situations to learn and apply my Industrial Engineering know how, on the spot to make meaningful improvement. It was there that I learnt that just visiting genba is simply not sufficient. We learnt that the two other Gens - Genbutsu and Genjitsu. (, machines, etc. and Realistic action) also needed to be applied. You see when you are in the Genba you are in the best place to observe and understand the real parts/process/machines/people - genbutsu. Once you have grasped the reality of he situation you are in the best position to take realistic action - genjitsu. Shopfloor Management can now be defined as simply "the rigorous and routine application of the 3 reals"

The recent tube mill experience was no more complex than this - applying yourself in the genba, making observations and measurements and then developing some quick actions to address the issues. Through follow up I have seen that this client is rapidly reaping the fruits of this and overtime hours are back under control.

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