There are so many tools readily available for experts when it comes to consistent improvement that anyone would be prone to get overwhelmed and in turn, focus on a narrow classification of tools. Experience prolongs the toolkit of the experts but many times it is crucial to get back to the roots to expand the path to mastery.
What is the meaning of Gemba Walk?
Gemba (or sometimes genba) walk is a method that helps in describing personal observation of work at the workplace. The term is originated from gembutsu meaning real thing or real place. The gist of Gemba walk is:
- Observation: In-person observation
- Value-add location: observation of the work place
- Teaming: Discussion of the people and process in the Kaizen spirit.
What is Gemba Walk not for?
A Gemba walk shouldn’t be considered as an opportunity ti pick out flaws in others while they are under observation. It is also not a time to pay heed to policy adherence (might carry some exceptions). It is also not be considered as punitive, otherwise the employees will back off and will resist the changes in no time.
A Gemba walk should only be implemented in the spirit of mutual respect and interest to make things faster, easier, safer, and better. Gemba walk shouldn’t be considered as a time to solve the issues and make changes. It is a time of keen observation, input and reflection. It doesn’t also mean that you should ignore the improvement ideas or stifle brainstorming, but should be open to the real thing and observe what is really happening.
Solving issues for the shop floor
The leader encourages its employees to approach the operators of the shop floor directly, instead of spending countless hours in the conference room to come to a solution. By paying heed to this method, you can work through the problems and understand them at a distance diminishes. The aim shifts to solving the problems at hand and eventually training the employees directly on how they can manage the problems by themselves. The more the processes are carried out with the help of Gemba walk, the more successful and enduring the variations will be. There is no rule of thumb which states that no leader can practice Gemba walk at any point in a process change. As a matter of fact, review of ideas, piloting the changes and changing the issues of implementation are all great implementations of Gemba walk.