Management by Walking About (MBWA) or Driving Walking

MBWA or Driving Walking

It is a technique applied by managers and leaders of organizations with the aim of taking the pulse of their employees. Basically it is a question of directing information (problems, ideas, etc. of the personnel) first hand and collected in an informal way.

It is difficult to determine the origin of the concept although Mark McCormack and Tom Peters helped spread it. The work done by executives in the 1970s by Hewlett-Packard is considered as the initial basis.

The theory is tremendously simple. In order not to isolate ourselves and “dilute” the contact with our staff and their daily routines, leaders of organizations must leave their offices and make walks through the organization: factory, shop, plants, offices, coffee rooms, etc. Listening to their employees and watching in front of everything that happens *. It should be borne in mind that the ultimate goal is that managers participate in solving the real problems of the organization (communication must go both ways, this is one of the advantages of MBWA).

Observation*. In many cases the MBWA technique is accompanied by an open door management policy in the organization through which access to the offices of the different leaders and managers of the organization is quite easy.
Although this technique has a lot of common sense still today, in the second decade of the 21st century, executives can be observed encastillados in their offices that filter their information through their secretarial staff and manage their worlds through memorandums or edicts and whose relationship With the organization is based on reports and / or meetings held only with their next in the organization’s ranks.

Tom Peters * called MBWA “the technology of the obvious” in his book “The Passion for Excellence” and believes that leaders who roam must: listen to what workers say, take advantage of their rides to convey company values ​​and Should be prepared to support their field staff.

Note*. Peters and Waterman reported that excellent companies believed in the MBWA as a management line.
The concept or practical idea of ​​MBWA is active listening by the Management under a series of informal and unplanned meetings delimiting a series of points that must be taken into account to ensure their effectiveness: the whole organization must be reviewed (throughout Of the different “walks”), it is convenient to carry out these “walks” as many times as possible, logically must be done by oneself (not worth delegating), it is very important not to question the chain of command of the organization. Should become a criticism of managers or supervisors, or a threat to their work) and of course one should be prepared to ask and observe as well as to receive surprising opinions or with which, perhaps, they may not agree.

*Observation. This “work” technique is not only applicable to managers. Those of us who work in consultancy often commit the same sin by performing our work only in an “administrative” way without observing and feeling the way of doing the work by the staff. This is not the first time we have helped to generate documents and protocols without taking into account the true methodology of the various areas and the true development of the organization’s processes.
The following premises should be considered in the realization of the MBWA:

– Leaders should identify and focus on a goal for each walk (check the progress of a new process, check the resolution of a problem, perceive the mood of the staff, etc.).

– The objective of the manager is to listen and to gather information. Workers should be asked about their views and opinions (to waste a few minutes talking about sports, the fashion series or any current news – even weather – can help to relax the environment).

– Care must be taken in the solutions that are provided because the promises of a leader will be sacred to his staff: never compromise solutions that can not be implemented then we would be undermining our credibility.

– A recommendation at the conclusion of the walk is to record or record the findings by delimiting three categories: priority issues (require rapid action), information of medium relevance (to be considered in future actions), and information of low relevance but unknown to date.

– The data collected must be used for the continuous improvement of the processes and practices of the company as well as a point of support in the strategic decisions that are defined.


Management by Walking About (MBWA) or Driving Walking

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