What is the purpose of Gemba walks?
The main goal of Gemba walks, which derived from the Japanese word “Gembutsu” (meaning “the actual place”), is to observe, listen, learn, and help. It is an efficient method that enables leaders to know what is and is not working by being with the workers right on the floor, delving into how they approach problem-solving and continuous improvement in everyday work. Gemba walks are structured and performed according to a particular intention (e.g. customer service, standard work, safety, cost efficiency, productivity, creativity, and workspace efficiency).
Further, Gemba walks are also done with the aim to:
- identify issues and gain valuable insights on how to improve them;
- reduce existing waste ( redundancies, bottlenecks, non-value added steps, safety hazards, etc.) and discover where continuous improvement opportunities exist;
- discuss goals and objectives with employees; and
- build stable relationships with those who actually do the work and create value.
3 Elements of an Effective Gemba Walk
As Gemba walks take leaders directly where actual work happens, they become an integral part of continuous improvement initiatives, such as Kaizen events and layered process audits (LPA). It helps them to see and understand processes through the employees that are directly involved in the work.
To achieve an insightful Gemba walk, walkers can follow these three fundamental elements:
- Go See
Walk around the workplace and observe if processes are done according to standards and if they produce intended results. Participants of the walkthrough can use a Gemba walk checklist to take note of their observations and use it as a reference document during discussions of the Gemba Kaizen circle.
- Ask Why
Gemba walkers need to probe the value stream thoroughly and identify opportunities for improvement through active communication and listening. Leaders should be sincere and curious on how employees think about their work and solicit recommendations on how to improve it. Techniques such as 5 Why’s can be used to identify problematic areas of a process and ensure that they address root causes of systemic issues.
- Show Respect
Collaborate with the workers in understanding the challenges and determining how they could be addressed. A gemba walk should focus on the challenges and not on workers’ performance.
Equip Gemba walk participants with a Gemba Walk App
Improve your Gemba walks by using iAuditor by SafetyCulture, the world’s #1 inspection app, to streamline data collection and productivity reporting. The Auditor Gemba Walk App enables lead walkers to use Gemba walk checklist templates to have more focused and targeted Gemba walks. The inspection tool also assists participants to easily document their observations and generates comprehensive reports right after Gemba walks. Further, the iAuditor Gemba walk app allows you to:
- Digitize Gemba Walk attendance tracking and feedback to ensure continuous improvement compliance
- Customize Gemba walk checklist templates and add interview questions according to your specific theme
- Annotate captured photos of your Gemba walk observations
- Have offline data capture even in remote locations
- Sign-off Gemba walk checklists with digital signatures
- Use all the data that you collected as part of your continuous improvement process
Get started with these free Gemba walk checklist templates you can download and customize for free.
Featured Gemba Walk Checklists
Gemba Walk Template
Use this Gemba Walk Template to record observations when performing a walk around the workplace. With the iAuditor Gemba Walk App, managers can use this gemba walk form to cover already identified problems and document recommendations to improve the work process.
Gemba Walk Checklist - Manufacturing
This gemba walk checklist for the manufacturing industry aids leaders when conducting walkthroughs of manufacturing sites and helps them document notes and observations during sit-downs with manufacturing workers.
Gemba Walk Interview Checklist
A gemba walk interview checklist template, also known as a process walk interview checklist, is a tool used by managers to determine how employees go about a normal workday. Understand what your employees are doing and why they do it and identify challenges. As one of the core principles of kaizen, it places managers in a better position to collaborate with employees and document actions and solutions formulated to solve issues.