The term Gemba is translated as, “the real place,” which indicates that a Gemba walk should be conducted in the areas where the actual work is being done. This is a pretty broad area, however, and it doesn’t explain how these walks should be coordinated to ensure you get the best results possible. The specific areas where one should go on a Gemba walk will depend largely on their role with the company, and their specific goals.
Go to Your Managed Areas
Managers should go to the area that they are directly responsible for on their Gemba walks. This is one of the most important ways that Gemba is used. Getting direct managers out of their offices and to the place where work is actually done is much more effective than relying on reports from people that work for them.
Go Where Changes are Planned
If you’re planning on making any type of change in the facility, make sure you go on Gemba walks to the impacted areas. Even if you aren’t a direct manager over an area, if a change is taking place that will impact your area of responsibility, you should go on a Gemba walk to see how it is done. This will help you to better prepare your own department for whatever changes occur.
Go to Areas Where Problems Exist
Another effective strategy for determining where Gemba walks should take place is to look for where problems are present. For example, if one department is consistently producing a higher than normal number of products with defects, it would make sense to schedule Gemba walks in that area. This could help you to discover the root cause of the defects so that they can be addressed.
Those who are in higher level management positions, or those who are responsible for some aspect of the entire facility like its safety, will want to schedule Gemba walks in every area. While you won’t be visiting any given area on a very frequent basis, having a good understanding of how things operate in all the different departments will help you to make the best decisions for the facility. Many upper level managers will set aside a couple hours each week to go on Gemba walks to different departments. This allows them to spend time in every department at least once every few months.
The bottom line is that Gemba can provide benefits to the entire facility. Planning out your Gemba walks is an important part of ensuring you get the best results possible.