What are some of the Best Practices for Gemba Walks?

A Gemba Walk involves observing all processes across a business to learn from the employees carrying out different duties, identifying potential opportunities for improvement. Being a staple continuous improvement methodology when implemented well, businesses should be utilizing its power to improve efficiency, quality, and employee satisfaction across their organization. In this article, we share some of the best Gemba Walk practices alongside some examples of how businesses can put these into action to see success.

Establish clear goals

Before starting out on a Gemba Walk, preparation is necessary to streamline how the desired insights will be gathered. By creating goals which define the outcome wanted from the process, a tailored agenda can be established which narrows down the questions asked and the things that will be looked out for. For example, if a business has noticed an increase in production defects, a Gemba Walk could be carried out to identify any areas of the business who may be facing challenges, a lack of quality equipment, or staff shortages. 

Involve everyone in the business

A key part of a Gemba Walk is observing every aspect of a business, making your way through every department to get an insight into the different roles and how they operate. For example, a Gemba Walk in a healthcare organization would not only involve doctors and nurses, but also the technicians, secretaries, and administrative staff. This creates a more comprehensive understanding of the patient experience and how each team works together to carry out their individual roles. Incorporating all teams has proven to be a best practice, helping to gain diverse perspectives that would not be visible when only involving the ‘main’ departments.

Welcome criticisms 

The opinions and suggestions of employees are critical in businesses, providing insight from those most involved in the processes. Ensuring that employees feel comfortable in being open and honest about their experiences plays a huge part in the success of a Gemba Walk, not only providing insights, but making employees feel like their opinions are valued and heard. Speaking to workers from different areas of the business helps to uncover otherwise impossible insights, whether that be from customer service employees who understand customer frustrations, warehouse employees who deal with inventory issues, or maintenance staff who may have identified health and safety concerns.

Continuous improvement mentality

A continuous improvement culture goes beyond identifying and resolving initial problems, continuing the process of staying on top of processes and seeking new solutions. For example, an organization selling workwear would regularly conduct Gemba Walks to analyze their product development process and learn from the input of their production team. By quickly identifying any bottlenecks and utilizing insights from workers, the business will be able to maintain their strong market position in such a competitive industry. It is a good practice to ensure that all of the observations and actions taken are documented, acting as a log which can be referenced in the future.


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