Genchi Genbutsu is one of the principles of management which is employed by Toyota. In English, Genchi Genbutsu means, go see for yourself. Normally in big companies, managers rely on data to make their decisions, but in Toyota everything must be verified by the human eye. Though the car maker is a big company, the principle can be applied to micro and small enterprises owners by understanding what it takes to go and see for yourself.
To be able to Genchi Genbutsu, one must master the art of observation and analysis.
The manager of Toyota would stand in front of the production line. People would pass in front of him and greet him, but he would be silent, as if he is in a trance. Hours after he would move and give instructions to his engineers. What just happened during the trance? He was observing. He was not just looking on the physical level, he was looking deeper into the process. He was looking for errors, minor details which others were not paying attention to.
He was not finding errors to be used against the engineers. He was trying to understand what is happening and questioning why it is happening. In Toyota, they use the 5 whys to get to the root cause of the problem so they can find the right solution. They way to use it is simple. You just ask why (why it happened?) five times and then you will get to the root of the problem.
Genchi Genbutsu has brought success to Toyota because their managers did not just rely of reports. Reports are useful in the decision making process if the data captured were accurate. If it is not, for sure, the outcome of the decision will not be successful. As always, the best approach is to go and see for yourself. But not just go and see. Go deeper so you can correct the wrong and continue the right process.