I enjoyed immensely reading David Hackett Fischer's biography of the father on New France called Champlain's Dream (Simon & Schuster, 2008). Like many of us in modern organizations, Champlain started out with a dream, had little if not negative "management" backing, did his exploration the right way, and changed his corner of the world forever.
Key Stakeholders: 3 successions of King Henri IV, Queen Regent Marie de Medici, and Louis XIII and their administrations. Financial backers including Compagnie de Caen and Hundred Associates.
Key Customers: various tribes of Native Americans on the St. Lawrence River, French traders, Colonists, Catholic Church clergy.
Customer Process Models: Champlain joined many tabagie (smoking festivals and meetings) with Native Americans to learn about their lives, their joys, and their struggles.
Gemba: After the "interview" research of the tabagie, Champlain then explored the St. Lawrence gemba. They joined hunts for food, parties of war, lived in their villages, ate their food, stayed on through the winter seasons (in the early 1600s, most Europeans were fair-weather visitors to North America). He did youth "student" exchanges to learn their languages and customs, etc. This is real gemba.
About the Native Americans, Champlain learned:
- Help feed our families (many St. Lawrence tribes were hunters and gatherers, did not store food, and suffered terribly with disease and starvation during some winters).
- Protect us from our enemies (both Indian and European).
- Help us live in peace.
- I want to serve my King.
- I want to become a land owner (almost impossible for non-nobility in France).
- I want a place to retire with my family.
- I want a great adventure.
- I want to get out of debtors prison.
- Establish the Church in North America.
- Create a rule of law and faith (not just revenge).
- Free to do missionary work.
- I want to trade with everyone.
- I want to fish anywhere.
- I want to make a lot of money.
Functional Requirements: respect for Native American cultures, no retribution, assure adequate food and nutrition, establish rule of law based on just solutions for all parties, build trust by keeping promises, religious tolerance, make colonies self-sustaining, encourage intermarriage.
The result was a mastery of exploration, cartography, co-habitation of peoples for mutual benefit, and a tremendous leadership style that got it "right" most of the time. This came from Champlain's non-judgmental willingness to learn, appreciate diversity, and explore beyond his comfort zone. In that era, it was the French who recognized the humanity of Native Americans, while the Spanish were enslaving them and the British were pushing them off their land.
Champlain's life is an example of how to do gemba right.