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Gemba Walks - Has Jim Womack created a monster?

Gemba Walks - In lean manufacturing, the idea of genba is that the problems are visible, and the best improvement ideas will come from going to the genba. The gemba walk, much like Management By Walking Around (MBWA), is an activity that takes management to the front lines to look for waste and opportunities to practice genba kaizen, or practical shopfloor improvement.

We must have a clear idea of why we should go to the gemba and what to do once we are in it.  The gemba might be a production shop floor, warehouse or large retail space.

Video - Jim Womack
on Lean Tools as Tools for Creativity:

James P. Womack is the president and founder of the Lean Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization based in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Walking the gemba is part of “Check” in Plan-Do-Check-Act. It is the process of carefully observing to see where things are not as they should be. Sometimes there is less walking involved, and more just standing and watching.  You are checking the health of your leadership systems by looking at how they engage their people and processes.  Walking the gemba is a process of developing your people.

Gemba walk objectives are unique to each and every organization leadership is learning from operators.  Gemba walk checklists must be developed by the management team and designed to check on progress towards achieving the strategy.  Each of the management levels and departments should have a different check sheet but remember they must all be aligned with achieving the strategy. 

Once the check sheets are aligned with the strategy, the next step is to design the shop floor with visual management. Without this the managers will not see much value, the Gemba walk will take too long and managers will stop participating.  The visual management will also get the Operators involved and start to see value because they are contributing to the strategy and business success. The visual management will be posted by the Operators, with daily updates. The Operators will take ownership and the management can provide Support, Teach, and Promote the strategy and culture, at a fast pace.

The Gemba Walk is about getting out into the workplace.  It affords company leaders, managers and supervisors a reliable, simple and easy means of supporting an improvement structure and encouraging process standardization.  The Gemba Walk is a key component in the sustainment of improvement.  

During a Gemba walk, wasted steps will soon be a part of the conversation.  Mobile workstation carts with power is an easy answer to "how can we improve productivity?"  Configure your own workstation here.

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Topics: Productivity Lean Manufacturing