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David Twohig | Engineer


14 November 2022

As a young and very green engineer straight out of university, I had the concept of genba beaten into me by the more senior Nissan engineers tasked with showing new graduates the ropes.

The word literally means ‘the actual place’, but like translating kaizen as ‘continual improvement’ or monozukuri as ‘making things’, the real sense of the Japanese word is somewhat lost in the too-direct English translation.

The gist of genba is that one should check things oneself, looking at the physical evidence: to quote one of my old bosses, ‘with your own eyes’. The Nissan engineers who trained me emphasised – in no uncertain terms – that when something went wrong, you do not accept someone else’s explanation for what happened, or how. Don’t simply read the reports sitting at your desk, don’t pick up the telephone to ask anyone else for details – if at all possible, get your derrière to the scene of the event, and use your own observation.

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