There is a Japanese expression called 'Gemba'. Translated it means simply 'the actual place', either the crime scene, the place a journalist is reporting from or where an event is happening. As a business philosophy it was born in Japanese manufacturing, with issues being addressed on the factory line rather than in the abstract. The idea is that problems are not solved sitting in meeting rooms talking about what needs to be done, the best way is to go to where the actual problem is happening and discuss it there. All the additional information about what is going on makes the issue quicker, easier and cheaper for the company to solve.
The most valuable place in the company is where the value is created - in the factory.
Manufacturing made massive leaps in the 20th century, first with the methods of Henry Ford, and then later with the advent of the manufacturing giants in the far east, and the Toyota Production System and their principles of minimising waste and continuous improvement.
There are some great stories of this approach in action. At the Honda factories, they have a ritual called something like 'staring at the engines' which happens weekly. The factory workers all stand in a circle and look at one completed engine that has come off the production line. They stare at it for 45 minutes. This level of detailed inspection is able to show up tooling flaws and wear in the machines that make the engine.
The picture above is of Soichiro Honda, the founder of the eponymous company, sitting on the floor with a couple of engineers drawing ideas for engine improvements on the floor. For this reason, so the myth goes, he always carried a piece of chalk in his pocket, all the better for writing on the factory floor.
Finally, there is the Toyota Production System, a formalised set of principles that was largely responsible for the second great leap in manufacturing being exported out of Japan. A story exists of new recruits being placed inside a chalk circle on the factory floor and asked to count how many things they can see. If after an hour they hadn't seen enough, they would be invited to stay.
People often talk about managing by walking around (MBWA), however, the key difference between that and Gemba principle, is that MBWA is essentially a visit - a tour - to check everything is going alriight, whereas Gemba is about being there and working there. Compare this to having an office and sitting in it. Where is the value created in your business. Maybe sit there?
A bit behind the curve on this one, but a couple of great photos from the day of the first viewing of the prototype Shuttle USS Enterprise on 17th September 1976.
Great story from Walter Koenig (Chekov) from his autobiography:
"We were called to attention and the air force band began to play the national anthem.
"The music subsided and we resumed our seats. Mr. John F. Yardley, the associate administrator, Office of Space Flight, NASA, called for the roll-out to begin. The order was passed through the ranks. The taxiing vehicle appeared around the corner of a building. In tow was Orbiter 101. It began its approach. I noticed in passing that the air force band leader had raised his baton. The carrier was closer now and then closer still. Then it happened. The band leader moved his hands with an emphatic gesture and suddenly we were standing and shaking hands and embracing each other. The space craft was approaching to the theme music from "Star Trek." The same chill ran down all our spines. I can't remember seeing a group of people so moved as those in the row beside me. I felt myself close to tears and wasn't the least embarrassed by it. Orbiter 101 was now directly in front of us. Across the nose of the ship was the word 'Enterprise.'"
Say the ball is in zone A. there are two teams on the offense, and one on defense. Teams B and C don't want the ball to shift zones because it means that theres a 50% chance it will go toward their zone. instead, it is in the best interest of both teams to hammer at team A because it is the least risky, and because they are already in an offensive position. In the event that team A is beating teams B and C, and B and C are close in score, it is best for B and C to work together to keep the match close. If the three teams are separated from each other by a significant margin, the leading team will work to pit the weaker teams against each other or will side with the weakest team to secure a defensive advantage while risking little by giving that team an offensive advantage by providing defense when the middle scoring team is in an offensive position.
when the game is very close or tied, the defensive advantage you are suggesting is an illusion, because even if three teams are in zone A, both teams B and C are attempting to help defend team A against the other team, but trying to keep posession to themselves, meaning they are really still both playing offensively. Breakaways should be much more powerful because the teams must return to their zones to play defense, reducing the number of defenders by half.
The best defense in this game is definitely a powerful offense that keeps the other teams on regular defense. fewer dedicated defenders means more shots on goal.
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Some of the planning team went to an IPA talk about this last week on this new report published by the IPA, which got me interested in it. The paper argues that there has been a change in approach to constructing campaigns between 2004 – 2010. The model surrounding how to create marketing campaigns has evolved over these 7 years as based on 250 IPA effectiveness awards winning papers. The paradigm now, the IPA argues, is more akin to conducting an orchestra than ‘ever it has been before’.
They found that there were four models of integration that are generally employed by marketers:
No obvious integration. Lots of different media without co-ordination, diverse communications, or only a single media in use
Advertising led integration. Campaigns are ordered around a common creative idea. The look and feel of the campaign is very much the same. This was generally speaking the most popular type of campaign in use in the early stages – from 2004 onwards.
Brand – led orchestration. Campaigns are constructed around a higher order brand idea, without necessarily having to all look the same as they all share the same value
Participation – led orchestration. Campaigns are inviting consumers to be part of the campaign, and they are a very fundamental part of the success of the activity
Over the 7 years the focal point for campaigns has been changing over the duration of the analysis. 66% of campaigns were using an advertising- led integration model in 2004. Whereas by 2010 the use of this model had dropped to 39% of all the studies awarded at the IPA Awards. On the other hand, there has been a commensurate shift towards the higher order brand-led campaign structure (from 16% in 2004 - to 39% in 2010).
Across the study period, only 10% of the papers analysed use participation-led orchestration, and while this amount had increased slightly, the overall numbers are still relatively low
Brand-led campaigns as effective as advertising-led campaigns
A key learning, and a very heartening one for anyone who has been asked to “make it like the press ad” is that brand-led orchestration campaigns are just as effective as advertising-led integration across the broad range of metrics.
In some it demonstrates improvements, for instance in customer retention and profit gain. In contrast, traditionally integrated campaigns are marginally more effective at share gain and customer acquisition.
As an aside, Carl planning director at Elvis who went to the talk, said three is the most effective number of media to drive hard business measures. So there you go.
Participation campaigns are hard to measure in the traditional sense, but under perform on pretty much everything though excel in delivering reward for existing users and eliciting brand fame (ie softer metrics).
The section concludes by saying this may be due to the fact that the campaigns generally had a small reach or direct sales outcome. The panel puts across the view that new means of measuring these campaigns are needed. Additionally, perhaps the IPA effectiveness papers are less effective as a consequence of the smaller budgets that are likely to have been put into these type of ‘test’ campaigns.
The whole thing looks very good, and if I can find someone to copy it off, I might even read it.