If you are getting ready to take your first Gemba walk, good for you! Gemba walks are an effective way to identify opportunities for improvement, improve team collaboration, and recognize team members who are doing outstanding work. In order to get the most out of the technique, keep these ten tips in mind.
1 – Explain the purpose of the Gemba walk before it happens
If the people you are going to observe have never experienced a Gemba walk before, it is especially important to let them know what to expect before you begin. You want to be clear that the practice is collaborative, not punitive.
2 – Bring along a notepad and a camera
Have the right tools with you to document what you see and make notes for yourself for later review. Depending on the type of work and workspace you are observing, a camera might come in handy.
3 – Ask lots of questions
The purpose of your observing the work in the place where it happens, rather than just talking about it in a meeting, is to get a sense of how things are actually done. You want to ask questions that include why, when, how, and who. and who.
4 – Don’t suggest changes during the walk
The Gemba walk is the time to notice opportunities for improvement, not the time to make improvements. After the walk, you will have time to consider what changes should be made.
5 – Focus on processes
The goal of a Gemba walk is to determine which processes or workspaces should be targeted for improvement, it is not to evaluate the performance of individual employees.
6 – Don’t make assumptions
Don’t make any assumptions about why or how something is done. This is your opportunity to discuss each part of the process and learn more about the thinking of the people who know it best.
7 – Add each opportunity for improvement to your improvement management system
Even if you aren’t going to act on every opportunity that you observed, be sure to add them all to the solution you use to manage improvement work. You may come back to them later.
8 – Pick the best improvement technique for each opportunity
9 – Don’t lose momentum
It is best to act quickly after your Gemba walk. Make the appropriate assignments and stay engaged as improvements are implemented.
10 – Measure the impact of improvement
How useful was your Gemba walk? Did your team’s improvement effort cut waste, improve efficiency, make the workplace safer, or improve quality? Find out by documenting and measuring the results of the improvements that were made as a result of your walk.
Gemba walks are a popular improvement technique because they are easy but powerful. If you keep these tips in mind we’re sure you’ll enjoy your trip and achieve terrific results.