How often should Gemba walks take place?

Once you learn about Gemba walks and how beneficial they can be, you may begin to wonder how often they should be performed. If they are done too infrequently, you won’t be able to take advantage of the benefits that they can provide. If you do Gemba walks too frequently, however, they can begin to lose meaning and you will actually end up wasting your own time, and the time of the people in the department you are walking through. Unfortunately, there is no set rules regarding how often a Gemba walk should occur. Instead, there are just some general guidelines that can be considered in your facility.

Who is Doing the Walk?

One of the biggest factors that will determine how often a Gemba walk should occur is going to be who is doing the walk. An area manager is going to want to do these walks more frequently than the CEO (in most cases). A safety coordinator may want to do them even more frequently than that. Thinking about your role in the company, and what benefits a Gemba walk can provide, will help to determine how frequent is appropriate.

How Many Areas?

Another thing that will help to determine the frequency of these walks is going to be how many areas you are responsible for. A safety coordinator, for example, may be responsible for the safety of the entire facility. This means they will have to do Gemba walks for every department. Depending on the size of the facility, this may mean doing one walk per day to ensure each of them are visited on a somewhat regular basis. A department supervisor, on the other hand, may only need to do a walk once every week or two since they only need to visit one area.

What are the Goals?

Sometimes you will go on general Gemba walks where you are just looking to gather information or come up with ideas. Other times you will go for these walks with specifically goals, such as process or safety improvement, in mind. A general Gemba walk may not need to be done too often. If you have recently made a change to a process and you want to track its success, a walk may be appropriate every few days until you have the information you need.

What are the Results?

You can often determine whether you are doing Gemba walks to frequently, or not enough, based on the results you are getting. If you go out to the floor regularly and end up just chatting with employees and not really gathering useful information, you are likely doing it to often. If those same employees are very uncomfortable talking with you at all or answering questions, you may need to do it more regularly.

In the end, finding the right frequency will take some trial and error. For many people, it will be mostly a matter of finding what provides the best results and what fits in their schedule. Make sure to track when each Gemba walk occurs and write down when the next ones will take place. The more data you have, the better you will be able to determine when a Gemba walk is needed

 

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Additional Resources

Gemba Guide
 
Lean Manufacturing Powerpoint
 
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