What is a Gemba Walk?
Gemba walk , in simple words is a form of “Management by Walking Around” (MBWA). This is a very powerful tool as it is based on the fundamental principles of lean known as the ” 3G’s of lean ” as listed below. Gemba walk provides a first-hand unpolluted information about your Processes, Products and People.
3 G’s of Lean
Gemba – “The actual place”. This a place of actual work where the value is created
Gembutsu – “The thing”. Products or things which we are interested to improve.
Genjitsu – “The facts”. The real facts that are happening at the place of interest
I like to call Gemba walk as Management by walking around because it allows you to do just that. A 15 minutes Gemba walk has proved to be more effective in resolving flow interrupters for delivery than having hour long status meetings far away in the comfort of the office with unreliable data. When you are out there on the Gemba looking at the actual process, products and people responsible for them, there is no doubt about anything , no one can fabricate false information, you can interact with the process owner to resolve problems more quickly. This also helps all the Line Managers to align their priorities to solve problems for more efficient flow of the products through the value stream.
Few things to keep in mind to make this a successful tool:
- Have a clear theme and agenda for the walk
- prepare a list of questions to ask
- Setup a display board for each workstation which help process owner to answer question you will be asking
- Have the top-most management do Gemba walk along with you at least during the initial phase, that way everyone know that we are serious about improvement
- Be disciplined never miss the gemba walk
- Make sure resources are made available to resolve issues discovered during the walk
- make sure the account abilities are clear and everyone responsible completes their task
Gemba walk will be a good management tool as long as you use it properly. It can be used to serve various purposes. I will share more about my experiences in later posts. Till then if you have any questions or you need to know anything in particular about its implementation and application…. just leave a comment below.