What is a Gemba walk?

Workplace improvement is an important responsibility for managers, executives, safety professionals, and others in the facility. Whether working on coming up with new ideas for improvement, or working on how to implement ideas, people often end up talking about the issues far more than taking action. To help solve this problem, many companies use a strategy known as a Gemba walk.

A Gemba walk is when you get up and out of the office or conference room, and go to where the work is actually being performed. If you are working on ways to reduce defects in a particular process, a Gemba walk would include going to the machines where the work is done and spending time there. When done properly, this can help to give you a better idea of what needs to be adjusted, and how it can be done.

How to Perform a Gemba Walk

Gemba walks aren’t extremely structured, so there isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong way for them to be performed. As long as you are spending time in the area you want to learn more about, you are doing the walk. Most people will bring a notepad, a camera, and some other basic tools to help take notes and learn more about the areas in question.

Perhaps most importantly is bringing a willingness to talk and interact with the people who are performing the work on a daily basis. These are the true experts in what you are trying to improve, and they very well may have a lot of great ideas on how things should be done better.

One other important thing to remember when performing Gemba walks is that this isn’t a one time thing. Most experts recommend conducting Gemba walks at least weekly, if not more often, to really get the best results.

Why are Gemba Walks Effective?

Many different things contribute to the effectiveness of a Gemba walk. The first, and most obvious thing, is that you are taking a much more hands on approach to problems. It is easy for managers and others to discuss the theory of how things should be working, but without the practical knowledge it is almost impossible to really be able to come up with good ideas.

You can take the hands-on experience of a Gemba walk back to the office or conference room and discuss what you have learned. This will undoubtedly lead to productive discussions and ideas on how to improve the facility.


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