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Get out there!


In 1982, Bill Hewlett and David Packard (yeah, the guy who started Hewlett Packard Company) introduced the idea of “management by walking around,” or MBWA, to the world. They didn’t invent the idea of managers being very visible to their employees, but their application of the concept remains a cornerstone in the foundation of how the most successful businesses in the world operate.


Getting out there should result in a MBWA MBA (master of business administration). Nobody’s going to hand you a diploma, but you’ll feel 100 times smarter than you did before you started walking around.


The short answer to what MBWA means is “Get out there” – out of your comfort zone, out from behind a desk, outside the box. For McDonald’s franchisees it means very specific suggested visibility; hands-on landscaping at each of the stores on weekends, holding business meetings in the restaurants and working the drive-thru and introducing themselves to customers. For me it has meant crawling in nooks and crannies with my technicians, hustling at trade shows and interviewing customers.


MBWA acknowledges that too much workplace communication is done by email or texts. Face-to-face is the real thing, no filter, no veil. A first round of MWBA might seem like you’re part of a diplomatic tour where everybody’s on their best behavior. The responsibility for making MBWA work is on your shoulders. Be prepared to warm up your audience by asking them softball questions about their background, how long they’ve been with your business (if you don’t already know) etc.  Then move the conversation toward tougher questions like, “What are we doing that wastes time or money?” or “What is the thing that makes us look weak in the market?” cut to the quick and deliver results: all steak with only a little sizzle. But also don’t hesitate to


There’s no perfect plan for MBWA other than keeping it casual and friendly. But if you’re looking for best practices, try these:


  • Make MWBA part of your daily schedule, even if it’s only for 30 minutes a day.
  • No entourage – casual, one-on-one conversations make it easier for everyone.
  • Don’t play favorites – you can start with employees or customers you know already, but plan to connect with every employee and as many customers as is practical.
  • If good ideas come your way be sure to publicly (or even monetarily) give credit where credit’s due.
  • Be quick with the answers – if someone asks a question, be sure to follow up.
  • Stay on your toes – there’s no such thing as a stupid question or bad idea, but that doesn’t mean answers will always make people happy or that a particular idea won’t work for your business. And, as Stuart Smalley says, “That’s o.k.” Honesty is better than everybody feeling warm and fuzzy with MBWA.


Getting out there is how good businesses grow and thrive. It’s how employees and customers feel recognized and important. It’s how you can renew your passion for your business. So what are you waiting for? Get out there!