Gemba walk is all about observation. For the uninitiated, this is a kind of management style, where managers head straight to the workplace, rather than taking action in a conference room. This workplace could refer to a factory, a manufacturing unit, or a warehouse, where the real work happens. Gemba in Japanese actually means the ‘real place’. Getting the Gemba walk process right is critical for the management, and the foremost aspect that matters is knowing the dos and don’ts. Managers need to follow the basic rules, because that determines the success of the exercise in the first place. In this post, we are discussing the things that managers must do on a Gemba walk.
- Explain the exercise. The workers and employees on the work floor must know what the exercise is all about. This is not a means to evaluate performance. Managers need to be aware of that and must ensure that everyone knows their role in Gemba.
- Ask questions. Gemba is about taking note of things, and you want to ask as many questions as possible during the exercise. Sometimes, this may mean asking very specific details or being friendly with the team. Having some sort of personal equation with workers does come in handy.
- Take note. Just observation without evidence doesn’t really serve the purpose, because with Gemba walks, you eventually want to take some serious decisions later. For this, you can check online for apps, which allow you to add notes, make documents, review previous details of last Gemba walks and take pictures.
- Seek feedback. Talking to people at the work floor is not just about asking questions. You need to take their inputs and feedback for the work process. Management must ensure that the purpose of Gemba is known to everyone. Being a good listener is critical for success of the exercise.
- Be specific. Gemba walks, unlike Management By Walking Around, can have a specific purpose, for which you need to keep a tab on the work flow as per how the operations work. Management must be specific with what they want to achieve and work accordingly.
Don’t shy away from asking questions, be open to suggestions and ensure that your workers don’t feel threatened by the exercise – that’s the basic outline for Gemba, and with a good app, you will have no issues in recording information and taking corrective steps later.