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Activity to See



Activity to see has caught our attention in many ways. This is why many languages have many words to describe “see.” See, look, watch, observe, and many more in English. In Japanese, 見る、視る、観る、診る [All read as “Miru.”]. It is essential to understand the difference since much wisdom is there.

But this post is about the structure of see.





【視点 Shiten】

There are several meanings to this word.

The first meaning is a viewpoint or point of view. It is the point from which you look at something.

The second meaning is the subject of what you look at.


The interesting thing about humans is that we often miss things unless we are aware or have the mindset to see them. For example, the city I see is very different before and after having children. Before I had a child, I did not pay any attention to daycare, child clothes, or toy stores, but I learned that plenty were in the neighborhood. I probably passed these services but didn't care about them since I didn’t need them. Awareness or mindset is necessary to see things. My viewpoint has changed, and I have become aware. Therefore, I do see now.





【視線 Shisen】

The line connecting the above two points is called Shisen. This might be a line of sight, gaze, or look in English. Japanese use this word to describe “We see each other” or “Look away.”


The critical structural question about this line is whether it is direct or indirect. Humans have this fantastic and sometimes problematic capability of thinking. That means we think it is direct even if something is not direct observation. This creates some illusion or bias. Even with direct observation, some thought will intervene in the outcome. I don’t think it’s possible to eliminate all of such impact. Therefore, I keep the doubt or the question of whether I am directly seeing things.





【視野 Shiya】

The area of sight is called Shiya, which means field of vision or view. Another way of using this word is perspective.



In sports, we have players with a broad vision. They see things on the field that the others can’t. Suppose we call such a person a “fantasista.” In work, we shouldn’t expect such a “fantasista.” We should expect that the area a person can see is somewhat similar. There was this factory in which team leaders were struggling to perform. When I asked which processes they were responsible for, the answer was a random machine distributed everywhere. It took five minutes to walk around the isolated, responsible areas. The key to visual management is to keep what is responsible for management within the field of vision.

Of course, broadening the perspective is essential. That doesn’t mean giving an impossible mission.





【視界 Shikai】

The next is Shikai, which, unfortunately, is also translated as a field of view. While Shiya is viewed from a fixed point, Shikai is viewed from multiple points. Thus, various Shiya create a Skikai.

This is interesting in many ways.


First, when we design a process, we typically consider the operator's field of view. This is based on a fixed point of view, meaning the operator is sitting or standing. Sitting is no longer a healthy option, and standing in a fixed position is painful. If so, we need to create a process with some walking. Then, we need to think more than just the field of view. And, when we think as Shikai, we might intentionally place a point to navigate an operator to the following process. At the same time, we need to ensure that distraction doesn’t exist in Shiya and Shikai.


Another way to think about it is that a process consists of multiple functions. To understand a process, we need to see different functionalities and know that other points of view exist. There was a factory where a logistics team implemented a rack that optimized their process. The problem was that it was painful for the operator. The logistics team was pushing that this was an improvement, while the operator eventually screamed, “We don’t need this.” When functions can’t accept other functions' points of view, the victim is always the operator.





【視座 Shiza】

Last but not least is the Shiza. Shiza is also translated as viewpoint, which appeared several times now. Shiza typically means the vertical point of view—a viewpoint based on hierarchy or social status.


A manager needs to have a higher Shiza. They should see the Shikai, where multiple functional views exist from a higher point of view. When conflicts exist, they must judge from a higher perspective. Today, many managers grew up in one Shiya, a particular field. Such managers will make unbalanced decisions or over-rely on unfamiliar fields. Some opportunities to learn to broaden the Shiya to prepare for the higher Shiza should be given.


Also, since Shikai includes multiple viewpoints, it should consist of a higher view: Shiza. However, there should also be a higher Shiza to overview the Shikai. A team leader is part of Genba. A process should consider Shikai, including how the team leader will work. But that is the viewpoint of higher Shiza, the Group leader. A higher Shiza, the foreman, or the plant manager should design the Group Leader’s Shikai. A hierarchy is part of Shikai or higher Shiza, which defines the roles and responsibilities.


Most of these words are translated as “viewpoint.” There are multiple viewpoints on Genba. Where are you looking from, not necessarily physically but mentally? It is necessary to see things from different viewpoints to understand Genba. After all, our Genba is a complex world that requires multidimensional understanding.


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