The Go See practice involves literal physical examination of working practices, communication paths, interactions and products.
There is no better way to understand something than to actually give it a go. Reading reports about what's going on or looking at diagrams, charts and statistics is no substitute for direct observation and direct engagement. We recommend being wary of reliance on metrics, measures, analytics, reports and other well-intentioned but (at best) secondary forms of evidence. To get the best possible understanding of a software business go and look at it, talk to the people, even try a bit of it.
The series of activities that fit together to ultimately create Business Value in an organization (called a value stream in Lean) often span multiple teams and organization structures meaning that it can be difficult to see how they all fit together and ensure that every activity is actually worthwhile. The best way to understand a value stream, and whether it can be improved, is to go and see it. We recommend that people physically walk the value stream:
- Identify a new piece of work and follow it through the value stream
- Attend every meeting, track the activities and note how long it’s static (or in a queue)
- Don’t attempt to fix it during this period of observation, don’t criticize, just watch and learn.
By physically observing value streams we have found the Go See practice to be extremely powerful in its simplicity. Examination will uncover problems sometimes obvious to many but not effectively reported. the practice exposes problems that are sometimes hard for individuals to see due to the fragmented nature of value streams in structured organizations. Through direct observation the pressing issues become obvious and how to remove waste and blockages often becomes common sense. The complex dynamics of individuals working together often do not bear much relation to “sensible” plans and diagrams, observing how things really are is a fundamental source of truth.
We recommend that Business Leaders visit team working areas, attend retrospectives, stand ups and planning meetings. We have seen many instances where senior management is unaware of the realities of the organization simply because they rely solely on their metrics and reports. This is often exacerbated in organizations where the reporting of exceptions is seen as a failure.
"Go See" is also an excellent way to understand the quality of products and create rapport between Business Leaders and people who work with them encouraging collaboration, improving motivation and driving the Bubble Up practice.
We’ve seen many organizations where the teams don’t know who the senior Business Leaders are, or find them unapproachable. The Go See practice improves leadership visibility, and is free to try. It requires no preparation or effort. If the leaders of an organization won’t spend a few minutes talking to the people who work in the organization, they’re probably the wrong leaders.