A typical definition or translation of Gemba Walk is ‘the real place’. But many consider it as a space or a place where work origins or take place. The process of Gemba walk is just like that—taking a walk in the Gemba. The subject is usually explained with the help of articles and powerpoint presentations involving a common theme of leadership paying a visit to the shop or factory floor and observing the activities taking place in that workspace. This process helps in proving that time is well utilized by any middle level to high level manager to the leaders:
- To be noticed
- Earn an understanding and learning of the true pulse of the shop or factory floor
Keep in mind that Gemba walk doesn’t always involve shop or factory place, it can involve just an office setting as well.
Practising Gemba walk is a chance to grasp the core of the subjects and issues pertaining to question the efficiency and performance of the organization in the factory or shop floor perspective. This is a bit different from what you receive from your daily review of performance metrics. So, you have effectively accomplished the task of Gemba Walk. What do you do next? For the newbies, ask these following questions:
- Where did you execute the walk and what did you notice?
- With whom did you talk and what did you hear?
These primary questions should be asked to oneself after accomplishing the task of Gemba walk. Once, it is over, it is like a meeting that outputs on actions on the subjects discussed. Understand the purpose of the Gemba walk you just went through. To make sure you are making the best of your Gemba walk, ensure that you implement a good process for preparation and execution. Just as important is having a post-walk process as well, the follow-up process.
- After the walk, ponder on the key takeaways from the time you spent at the Gemba—Think Value versus the Non-Value (Waste).
- Ponder on categorizing your thoughts, observations, and discussion points. For evaluation, use the Pareto or trend charts.
- Ponder on the Types of Waste you found aka the 8 wastes of lean manufacturing
- Over Production
- Over Processing
- Too Much Inventory
- Defects / Re-Work
- Waiting / Delays
- Loss of creativity
- Plan out the discussion topics to be discussed with the employees
- Make sure you remember how many people you actually made contact with
- Make the best of this information as a leader as a part of consistent improvisation
- Provide feedback to employees weekly or monthly
- Follow up on the people who offers key insights