What is a Gemba Walk, and what are best practices, tools and online templates for teams and organizations?
Definition of Gemba Walk
The Gemba Walk was developed by Toyota as a way to eliminate waste from their production operations. It is focused on implementing consistent process change and requires managers and executives to visit the production floor and see in person how a specific operation is done.
Description of Gemba Walk
The main point of the Gemba Walk is for executives to see what is actually happening on the production floor versus what they assume is happening from their far-away offices. They can interact with employees who are actually doing the work and see exactly how the work is completed. A Gemba Walk is not a time to find fault with employees or criticize their work and steps need to be taken to abolish any punitive undertones so that employees feel free to share information.
There are 7 basic steps to doing a Gemba Walk:
- Pick a Theme: This will help your team be effective and productive. Examples of themes are productivity, cost efficiency, and safety. Preparing a list of questions to ask will also help focus the team.
- Prepare the Team: The employees that will be observed need to know in advance what will happen and understand that the Gemba Walk is part of the continuous improvement goal.
- Focus on the Process, not the Individual: It is not the time to evaluate performance or focus on individual abilities, as you will face resistance with this approach.
- Follow the Value Stream: With this approach, it will be easier to identify departments where waste is occurring and eliminate it.
- Record your observations for Later Evaluation: It is important to refrain from correcting or suggesting changes during the Gemba Walk. Write down all observations for more precise analysis and explanations at a later time.
- Bring a Different Perspective: It is a good idea to invite a co-worker from another department to come along. This way, you will get another point of view from someone not so deeply entrenched who can bring fresh insight and ask questions you may not think to ask.
- Follow-up: It is important to follow up and share with the team what you learned or observed and thank them for their time. If there are actions that need to be taken, inform the team at this time and let them know why they are necessary.
Done properly, a Gemba Walk can have a dramatic and positive impact on an organization. By closely observing the actual place where company value is created, as well as listening to those who are creating the value, executives gain a fresh perspective and new insights into their business.
Tools & Templates
The tools managers can use to guide their employees through the steps for a Gemba Walk are often communicated in presentations, spreadsheets, and other strategic documents.
upBOARD's Online Gemba Walk Tools & Templates
Unlike most traditional Gemba Walk processes, upBOARD’s online Gemba Walk tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.
Learn more about upBOARD’s portfolio of other operations best practice tools and templates, including:
5 S System, Brainstorming, Business Process Re-engineering, Gemba Walk, House of Lean, House of Quality, Huddle Boards, Just in Time (JIT), Kaizen, Kanban Boards, Key Performance Indicators, Leading and Lagging Indicators, Lean Manufacturing, Objectives & Key Results, Operational Performance Management, Outsourcing Decision-Matrix, Performance-Based Budgeting, QDIP Board, RATER Model, Six Sigma, SQDC Board, SQDCM Board, Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), Theory of Constraints (TOC), Total Quality Management (TQM), Value Stream Mapping, and Zero Defects.