Management by wandering around (MBWA), also management by walking around, refers to a style of business management which involves managers wandering around, in an unstructured manner, through the workplace, at random, to check with employees, equipment, or on the status of ongoing work, which was stated on Wikipedia as the definition. The importance is on the word wandering as an unplanned movement within a workplace, rather than a plan where employees expect a visit from managers at more regular or scheduled times.
As a Business Management major I came across the concept of Management by wandering around. It was my first time hearing this term; therefore, I wanted to learn about the concept benefits, problems and if its good principle to follow for most businesses and if it should be added as a mandatory management style.
Companies in America started using the concept of MBWA in the early 70s. It has not been a new concept, but became popular after Tom Peters and Robert Waterman wrote about it in their book In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Bes-Run Companies. Also, most sources credit the Hewlett-Packard culture for creating an active management style, which encouraged managers to spend time visiting employees, customers, and suppliers.
But American companies and consultants were not the only ones using this method, which was already around and used by a central belief of the Toyota production system called genchi genbutsu which loosely translated means “go and see for yourself”. Rather than relying on others, managers are encouraged to “go to the source to see the facts to make correct decisions, build agreement and achieve goals at our best speed.”
Historian Stephen B. Oates asserts tha...
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...to management style because using MBWA would benefit the relationship with employees and improve not only communication and trust, but also productivity in the workplace.
MBWA has become a policy in many companies; for example, Hanson management at HP declares once the department has developed working objectives, its important for managers and supervisors to keep it in operating condition; therefore, this is where observation, measurement, feedback, and guidance come in. The company does this by having their managers wander around. He says, “that’s how you find out whether you’re on track and heading at the right speed and in the right direction.” Also emphasizing that if you don’t constantly monitor how people are operating, not only will they tend to wander off track but also they will begin to believe you weren’t serious about the plan in the first place.
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