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Ashok Leyland Employees’ Journal • May 2006


completes one year...

One year of
Cover story

One of the most illuminating sights from a football match on television is that of
the coach at the sidelines. As his team strives and succeeds, he can only wring his
hands and then jump up in jubilation. It is his team that has to play in co-ordina-
tion, tackle attack, create goal-scoring opportunities and deliver.
At Ashok Leyland’s six manufacturing units, teams are at play. Their playfields
are their ‘Gembas’.

How was it gone about…

Launched in June 2005 as a Company-wide initiative, Mission Gemba’s objective is
to provide information, develop skills and empower employees to reach world-class
levels of quality, cost and delivery. The logic is simple and undisputable: value is
INFORMATION created at the Gemba and the Gemba knows its work best.
The first task was to divide the whole of ‘manufacturing’ into function-based
‘Gembas’. An identified Core Group went about the mapping and came up with the

final figure of 62, across all Units. The ‘Gemba Unit Leaders’ (GULs) were next chosen
based on their performance track record.
The ‘first wave’ - as partner consultants on the Mission, McKinsey would term it -
involved the rolling out of the four primary themes: information, skills, empowerment
and rewards & recognition. All these components were approached simultaneously.
To increase communication and information sharing, Gemba Communication
SKILLS Centres (GCC) were set up. The GCC has a set of six boards: Our Company, Our family,
Our Gemba, Our Strength, Our Performance and a Problem Solving board. Company
performance, market scenario and other issues of importance are displayed, apart
from providing a platform for voicing thoughts. The issues jotted down on the Prob-
lem Solving board are debated upon at ‘Daily Morning Meetings’ (that last about
10 minutes) and other members post suggestions. The GCC is basically a forum for
interaction - and hence, in some Gemba Units, is also the venue for watching an
exclusive film called ‘Change Story’ put together to emphasize the need to change
- and the part each of us can play in this transformation.
EMPOWERMENT With regard to skills development, the GULs have been put through a training
programme first. Followed by a well thought-out training schedule for all the members.
Each Gemba unit has been asked to identify a set of five skills that will be relevant
for the area. Over a four to six month period, the training on these identified skills
would be rolled out.
To encourage Gembas to come up with ideas, a budgetary outlay of Rs 50,000
per Gemba was made. This would fund improvement features in a Gemba - ranging
from workplace layout to low-cost automation, from easy access to tools and safety
measures that the GULs identify.
GULs also decide on the RISEi award recipients based on their contribution.
RECOGNITION (This newly introduced scheme gives monetary awards to associates for initiative

Ashley News / May 2006

Launched in June 2005 as a
Company-wide initiative, Mission
Gemba’s objective is to provide
information, develop skills and
empower employees to reach
world-class levels in quality,
cost and delivery.

taken or impact created.) In every way, GULs are encouraged to think like the CEOs
of their Gembas.
Another breakthrough idea for recognizing Gemba unit contribution comes in the
form of a unique ‘Passport Scheme’. This is a single window mechanism to reward
employees for involvement, participation, commitment and contribution in/to the
business performance of their units. Individual initiatives like attending Gemba Unit
meetings, making improvement suggestions, developing and using new skills are
taken into account. Attending training programmes and using the new learning in
a practical manner are also fetch points. Working like an airline loyalty programme,
‘associates’ earn a pre-decided number of points for various activities/outcomes, Improvements range from
which can be redeemed for non-monetary gifts - from Tupperware to cell phones. changing design of a fixture
to thinking up an alternative
Deep dives process … an all new
While the ‘first wave’ continues with its momentum, seven crucial areas of production
perspective to looking at the
were specially chosen for a ‘deep dive’ in order to achieve high impact. Associates in
these identified Gembas underwent a rigorous 4-month programme identifying every
problem at hand. Positively
pocket with high potential to improve Quality, Cost and Delivery. The results are impacting the triumverate of
already showing, with 40-50% improvements in benchmark levels for these areas! Cost, Quality and Delivery.

Gemba is a Japanese word meaning ‘real place’ where the real action
takes place. In a manufacturing business, Gemba is the shop floor; in a
service business, the place where the customer and the service come
Empowering employees together. It is also the quality of human interactions in the workplace
for world-class performance - between co-workers, with customers and business partners.

Ashley News / May 2006

Facets of
MD launches Mission GEMBA during the
Communication Meets held at all the
Units in June 2005.

GEMBAs inaugurated
across locations with
great verve and style

Continuous communication with

‘associates’ … leading up to the
mapping of the entire manufacturing
set-up as 62 different GEMBAS.

Leaders (GULs)
became the
of their GEMBAs.

Training the GULs was crucial for the success of the

initiative. Here, Pramod Kesarkar from Cummins India is
seen sharing his organisation’s experience with GULs.

Ashley News / May 2006

From games on
‘believing’ to group

Cover story
sessions, the GULs
are given an all-round
development platform

The Gemba Communication

Centres (GCCs) formed in all
Gembas saw installation of
display boards, maintained by the
Gemba Unit Members themselves

story’- a film
highlighting the
need to change
- was shown to all
associates, always
followed by an
open discussion
Convinced associates
spread the word of GEMBA.

J N Amrolia, ED-HR,
launches the passport
scheme at Bhandara

Awarding RISEi recipients and

‘Employee of the Month’…

Ashley News / May 2006