The Gemba of Mother's Day, for Dad

This is supposed to be a blog about being a Dad, so it’s funny that the first real entry should be about Mother’s Day. But, for a brand-new Dad, Mother’s Day is one of the most honest, true days there is. As everyone is happy to point out, we’re really just along for the ride for the pregnancy and most of the first few months; a holiday celebrating the primary parent, the one we all turn to, a day commemorating the ideal parent whom we can never be — that’s a really good exemplar of real life.

There’s this concept in Kaizen, the gemba. The quickest translation of gemba is probably “the place where everything happens” — in sales, it’s the sales floor where the closing takes place; in manufacturing, it’s where you drill the hole for the fastener; in police work, it’s the scene of the crime; in news reporting, it’s reporting live on location. The gemba is where you want to be if you want to see how things are really done and really make a difference.

Hey, as Dads we can totally be in the gemba! Sure, we can’t breastfeed, but we can be champs at swaddling or at changing diapers. The whole Mr. Mom thing is hokum; we can do it too. Except for one thing: we can be in the gemba, but, wherever Mom is, that is the gemba. That’s where baby is safe, and fed, and all the things. We just get to tag along. Heck, in my household, even the dogs like her better, so the gemba for the pups is where she is too!

Later on, I bet I can make the gemba around me, what with sports and stuff. Dad drive the boy to baseball, soccer, marital arts? I’m in! Oh, except I almost forgot that she’s the athletic one in the family. Darned gender sterotypes!

So we all got Mom gifts this Mother’s Day — me, the baby, even the dogs, because she’s such a good mom to all of us. And, then, I gave her the greatest gift I hoped I could give any new parent — I watched the baby while she slept in. We had a great time, watching guy TV shows, making googly faces and cooing at each other, and laying on the floor together, all to keep the baby quiet while Mom had her big morning.

See that? Even while she was asleep, the gemba was where she was — we were working to make sure that sleep took place in that key place. And that’s why the big parental holiday is Mother’s Day!

Wade Armstrong

Hi! I'm a dad in Los Angeles, CA. I work in tech, where I learned about lean & agile methods — thus the "Kaizen" part of the Kaizendad name. My hobbies include cooking and photography.

Los Angeles, CA