Management by wandering around
The 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(s), at random, to check with employees, equipment, or on the status of ongoing work. The emphasis 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 systematic, pre-approved or scheduled times.
The expected benefit is that a manager, by random sampling of events or employee discussions, is more likely to facilitate improvements to the morale, sense of organizational purpose, productivity and total quality management of the organization, as compared to remaining in a specific office area and waiting for employees, or the delivery of status reports, to arrive there, as events warrant in the workplace.
The term "Management by wandering around" or "MBWA" is also perceived to be comparable to going to the gemba.
The origin of the term has been traced to executives at the company Hewlett-Packard, for management practices in the 1970s. However, the general concept of managers making spontaneous visits to employees in the workplace has been a common practice in some other companies, as well. Also, the management consultants Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman had used the term in their 1982 book In Search of Excellence: Lessons From America's Best-Run Companies. Historian Stephen B. Oates asserts that Abraham Lincoln invented the management style by informally inspecting the Union Army troops in the early part of the American Civil War.
- "What is management by walking around (MBWA)", BusinessDictionary.com, 2010, webpage: BD-def-MBWA.
- Leadership Elements: A Guide to Building Trust, Mike Mears, 2009, 364 pages, p.51, Google Books link: BooksG-TOC-51.
- In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, 1982, 2004 (360 pages), p.289, web: BooksG-FOC-289.
- With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen B. Oates, 1977, 544 pages: