Asking questions of the people who you see on a Gemba walk is one of the best and most important ways to get the information you need. There are times, however, when it can be difficult to come up with the right questions. The following are good questions that will help you to get started with any Gemba walk. Remember, these questions are a great way to start a conversation, but don’t feel that you have to stick to them rigidly. Instead, let the conversation happen naturally so you can get the best information possible.
The 5 W’s
In almost every case, it is a good idea to start with the classic five W’s when on a Gemba walk. These are, Who, What, When, Where, Why. You can also add in How to that list of questions. Asking the people who are doing work these questions will really help to get you started with the main information you need. The following questions are based on these W’s:
- What are you responsible for?
- Where did you learn to do this task?
- What happens next to the items you produce?
- When are the items you make needed by the next group?
- Who would you ask for additional tools that are needed?
- Where is the personal safety equipment kept?
- What happens when there is a defect in something you produce?
- Many More!
These are just a few of the many types of questions you can ask while on a Gemba walk. Of course, it is also a good idea to try to customize the questions to meet the specific area in which you will be walking. Asking questions about how a particular job is done is much more effective than asking the more general questions. There are, however, times when asking very general and open-ended questions can also be very helpful. Try a variety of different strategies and see which ones work best for you.