How can I implement Gemba walks?

If you have recently learned about Gemba walks, you may be wondering how to best implement them into your workplace. One of the many nice things about this workplace improvement strategy is that it is extremely easy to perform. It is also very flexible so it can be modified to meet the particular needs of a given department or facility. Whether you are implementing Gemba walks as a general practice, or as part of another program like Lean or Six Sigma, this overview will help you to get started.

Gemba Walk Tools

While at the heart a Gemba walk is just spending time in the area where work is done, there are a variety of tools that can be very helpful for maximizing effectiveness. The following tools are often already available in the facility and can be grabbed by any manager getting ready to perform a Gemba walk.

  • Something to Take Notes – You’ll likely come across many ideas or topics that are of interest while on a Gemba walk. You don’t typically have time to really think it through, so taking notes so you can go back and reflect is important. This can be a simple notepad and pen, or something like an iPad or laptop.
  • Camera – Cameras can be very helpful when you spot an area for improvement. Taking a picture of the machine or other thing that triggered your ideas will help you to recall it later.
  • List of Where to Go – If you’re working in a larger facility, you may want to have a list of areas you want to visit on a given walk. This can help to ensure you don’t miss any areas and go to long without visiting.
  • Audio Recorder – One of the most important parts of any Gemba walk is talking to the people who are doing the work. Some people find it helpful to record the conversations, so you can go back and listen to them later.

Keeping a Schedule

Almost all managers start off with the intention to spend time with all their employees and really get to know the work that is being done. If this isn’t formalized, however, it will keep getting put off until it almost never occurs. When implementing Gemba walks in your facility, make sure they are scheduled each week so that they become a priority for all the managers. Even if you are only implementing it for yourself, put it on your calendar so others will see that you are busy and can’t attend other meetings at that time.

Just Keep Going

As with any new process, you are going to run into obstacles and other issues that you didn’t expect. The important thing is to make sure you just keep pushing forward with performing these Gemba walks on a regular basis. Over time, you’ll find that you continue to gather more and more useful information that can help you to make meaningful improvements to the workplace.


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