The Past –
When I started in manufacturing in 1975, we were taught that the only way to know what was going on in operations was to wander around without a set destination – to look for anything that looks out-of-order, and to chat with a variety of operators and supervisors. The origin of the term, “Management By Wandering Around”(MBWA) has been traced to executives at the company Hewlett-Packard, for management practices in the 1970s*. Systems of the time were fairly primitive and many facilities relied entirely on paper forms. Inventory and production control systems required keying in data, after-the-fact, to capture transactions. Therefore, with management wandering around the manufacturing floor and collecting random sampling of events or employee discussions, management is more likely to facilitate improvements to the operations as compared to remaining in the office and waiting for employees, or the delivery of status reports, to arrive there, as events unfold on the floor. It was a speed and visibility problem to warrant the practice.
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