Go and See for Yourself

The twelfth principle of the Toyota Way is:

Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.

You cannot be sure you really understand any part of any business problem unless you go and see for yourself firsthand. It is unacceptable to take anything for granted or to rely on the reports of others. Reports with tables and numbers may measure results, but they do not reveal the details of the actual process being followed every day.

Data can tell you a lot of the story, but it can’t tell you the whole story. Going to see the process or activity yourself lets you gain a better understanding of what’s truly happening, information that can transcend the data.

Go and confirm the facts yourself. Remember, you are responsible for the reports and information you provide others. Solve problems and improve processes by going to the root or source and personally observing and verifying information and data. It is important not to speculate on the basis of what you heard and what other people have told you. When you go and see things for yourself, you will have a better grasp of the situation.

Why should you go see for yourself? Because we should distrust communications. Every information hand-off is an opportunity for a defect. When information is passed around within organisations it is inevitably simplified and generalised. These information errors are not visible unless we go to the source to check, comparing what was said versus what was heard versus what was done.

Summing-up: First-hand knowledge is always better. Think and speak based on personally verified information and data. The only real way to understand a problem is to go and see it on the ground.

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