Why do a Gemba Walk?
Many organizations struggle with the problem of constantly functioning in a reactive mode in dealing with process issues. Often, leaders are the last to hear of concerns and wonder how the problem escalated so far and
so fast before being consulted. One very good solution to this problem is a Gemba Walk.
Gemba is a Japanese word meaning “the real place”. In maintenance, we might call it “the workplace” or the place where value is added and the work of the business is done. A Gemba Walk is designed to encourage leaders to leave their day- to- day tasks and walk the workplace. This allows them to observe machinery conditions, ask about the practiced standards, gain knowledge about work status and build relationships with employees. It is a common sense, low cost approach to management. This affords management a reliable, simple, and easy means of supporting the organization and encourages workplace standardization. Employees’ sense of accomplishment and feelings of contribution increase when leadership is visible and takes interest in the concerns of their employees. Although a Gemba Walk is commonly implemented in a production environment, it can also be used wherever work is being done. A Gemba Walk is an excellent method of ensuring potential problems are addressed in the quickest possible time and at the lowest possible level.
A Gemba Walk implementation begins with good planning and requires support from leadership and employees. In order to do this, here are some helpful hints:
• Start the effort and sustain it. If you don’t, it can result in loss of employee confidence
• Establish a consistent schedule and visit route plan
• Inform employees of their training requirements, which may include a team or area leader being asked to present data on his/her area
• Be brief, but thorough with observations and questions. Remember, a Gemba walk is not an in-depth area assessment
A Gemba Walk is a valuable opportunity for leadership to engage with their workforce to offer support, resolve issues, ensure objectives are being met and, most importantly, to observe and listen.
Do you or your organization perform a Gemba Walk routinely?