In Homer's Odyssey, one of our oldest and greatest epics, the Lotus Eaters were a race of people living on an island dominated by Lotus plants.
Lotus fruit, their primary food, was narcotic and addictive, and it caused the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.
The metaphor came to mind as I struggled with the fundamental question:
Why do so many leaders fail to go see what's actually happening?
Why do they avoid the places where value is created, and the people who create value?
It's one of the most common failure modes in any transformation - one that causes economic and emotional misery.
Are we, like the Lotus Eaters, addicted to a powerful narcotic - our screens?
In my view, our various screens - phone, pad, computer - exert an anaesthetizing, narcotic effect.
Why go see when there is so much on your screen?
Data, apps, pictures, videos - all so addictive.
The problem is, of course, that it's always different in the gemba - the real place.
By going to see with your own eyes you engage your whole being - your six senses, your mind & intuition.
Countless leaders have said to me, “I’m so glad we came to see in person. If not, we'd have made a horrible mistake!"
So use your screen, if need be, to orient yourself, to prepare for your gemba visit.
Then turn the damned thing off and get out there.