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The Achiever Newsletter

Does MBWA (Management By Wandering Around)
Still Work?

By Harry K. Jones

In Search of ExcellenceTom Peters, alumnus of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Company and one of today's best known and highest paid management gurus, first came to prominence in 1982 as he "knocked our socks off" with his eye-opening best-seller In Search of Excellence. This thought-provoking classic provided us with many valuable lessons from America's Best-Run Companies. Today, almost 20 years and ten best sellers later, Peters is still on the cutting edge of the on-going business revolution that never seems to end.

In his first book, Peters introduced us to the key concept of MBWA (Management By Wandering Around). After a brief definition of this powerful strategy, he shared a number of MBWA examples from such notable organizations as Hewlett-Packard, GE, PepsiCo, LucasFilm, Corning Glass, 3M, Disney and Wal-Mart. This unique approach obviously worked well for these and other companies in the early 80's. However, has it stood the test of time?

Tom Peters believes it has... as does a great number of leaders and organizations who continue the pursuit of excellence in today's competitive marketplace.

MBWA does not mean leaving your responsibilities behind as you stroll through the nearest shopping mall. Even wandering through your organization can do more harm than good if it isn't executed properly.

Here are a few tips to assist you in that same pursuit as you Manage By Wandering Around.

  1. Appear relaxed as you make your rounds. Employees will reflect your feelings and actions.
  2. Remain open and responsive to questions and concerns.
  3. Observe and listen and let everyone see you do it.
  4. Make certain your visits are spontaneous and unplanned.
  5. Talk with employees about their passions—whether family, hobbies, vacations, or sports.
  6. Ask for suggestions to improve operations, products, service, sales, etc.
  7. Try to spend an equal amount of time in all areas of your organization.
  8. Catch your employees doing something right and recognize them publicly.
  9. Convey the image of a coach—not an inspector.
  10. Encourage your employees to show you how the real work of the company gets done.

MBWA works best when you are genuinely interested in employees and in their work and when they see you as there to listen. It sometimes requires follow-up. When you can't answer an employee's questions on the spot, get back to them with an answer within 48 hours.

Publication Date: Spring 2001

motivational speaker Harry K. JonesHarry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services.

Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management

For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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