I’m back. Eight days at the Roberts Grove Inn in Placencia, Belize. Snorkeling on the world’s second largest barrier reef, wandering around some Mayan ruins, some sailing, some hikes through the jungle, and quite a few fruity drinks. With two CIA-trained chefs, the food was amazing… although my wife’s diet was predominantly fresh papaya. I prefered the red snapper, conch steaks, and shrimp. I highly recommend the location and resort.
But the best aspect of the trip was the fact that I didn’t check email, voicemail, the internet, or the tube. Anna Nicole who? Geffen called the Clintons what? Sometimes you need to stare at the ocean a while to realize how silly all of that is. Of course now I’m having to slug through hundreds of emails and voicemails, and I need to stretch my typing fingers. It looks like the blog held together with minimal spam, and in fact average readership is up and sustaining almost 30% in one week thanks to a couple posts being picked up by the mainstream media again. Welcome to all the new readers.
Long time readers know that I often observe some aspect of lean enterprise while on vacation, be it in Argentina, Chile, or Italy. Belize was no different. I’ll probably have a couple more Belize-related posts over the next few days, but let’s start with lean government in the small fishing and tourist village of Placencia. This town is at the end of a 30 mile narrow peninsula on the southern coast, and the incredibly poor quality of the single access road means that it takes almost 90 minutes to drive those 30 miles. Although tourism is beginning to help, money for infrastructure improvements is still very hard to come by.
We rode bikes into the town a couple days, and each time around 9am we saw a group of four men and one woman, smartly dressed in business attire, walking down the street. The attire made them stick out like sore thumbs in a town of fishermen, sailors, and general laborers with a sprinkling of slovenly-dressed tourists. I asked who they were, expecting the answer to be bankers or even missionaries. Nope.
They were the town government leaders taking a daily walk through the streets. As a group they stopped and talked with street vendors, taxi drivers, tourists, and business owners. And I presume they got an earful about the potholes and broken street lamps.
They were going to the gemba. And not necessarily a receptive or even friendly gemba. But somehow they had decided it was important to talk to their constituents to understand what was really happening, where it was happening. They town’s leaders may not have the financial resources to do what should be done, but they know how to prioritize what little money they have. And their citizens are presumably comfortable that they are acting in their best interests.
Take the time to walk your gemba each day. Learn what is really going on.