How to do GEMBA WALK? – improve your dying process

The easiest way how to find something to be improved is to go there and see. But it is allways better to have some partners with you. And there are other thinks it would be great to have to be successfull .

This article covers:

  • Gemba walk done right way?
  • What to do prior Gemba walk
  • Seps during Gemba it self
  • After Gemba? Do this.
  • Gemba walk in the office, virtual Gemba walk
  • Virtual Gemba walk main steps
  • Gemba walk office example
  • Make information flow

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Gemba walk done right way?

Gemba walk, also called waste walk, is about finding wastes in reviewed processes. It is organized walk to see waste activities.

Waste walk or Gemba walk is always team effort.

Check list after Gemba. Free for download in the link below

It helps to understand and reveal current challenges and opportunities to improve.

There are 3 steps in Gemba walk.

  1. Prework
  2. Gemba walk itself
  3. Improvement actions

What are top continuous improvement tools? – read here

What to do prior Gemba walk.

Prework is to prepare yourself and team for Gemba. Preparation is crucial for successful activity.

  • Define problematic process first. Usually is identified by project you are solving. But Gemba can be performed without running project, too.
  • Work with process owner. Process owner must know about this activity and understand its reasons. Activity will fail without his support.
  • Work with process owner to identify person from reviewed process, to be part of the team.
  • Identify team. Is always good to have people from reviewed process as well as from other departments. 4 to 6 people in the team is ideal.
  • Train people for area safety hazards. It is crucial to stay safe for Gemba team, as well as process team.
  • Train team for wastes types. There are 8 wastes. You can print wastes with description for each team member.
8 Wastes list is part of Gemba walk check list. Have it printed with you during the walk.

And here is promised link:

How to identify 8 wastes for lean process? – read here

  • Print out papers for Gemba walk notes. Leave space for brief waste description, waste type identification, And location description. To describe each waste, Try to use numbers as much as possible. Like there are 3 different mixed part types on xyz warehouse location.
  • Identify one person responsible for writing notes.
  • Identify one person to take photos. Make sure, you have permission to take photos on reviewed place.
  • Gemba can take 1 to 2 hours. So, make sure all teammates have available time. Schedule this activity to team calendars.
Understand what is waste to be able to find it.

Steps during Gemba walk it self:

  • High level Introduction to the process by leader or supervisor. Make sure everybody has at least high-level understanding of reviewed process.
  • Introduce your-self and your team to people in the reviewed process. Explain your intent there and ask them to work normally as you were not there.
  • Walk the process. Make sure you do not forget to visit surrounded areas, used by people from process. Like cabinets or shelfs. If there is some personal area, ask for permission to open it.
  • Take notes and pictures. Discuss each finding directly at the place, to let everybody understand wastes.
  • Try to identify also positive things form the process, not just negative ones.
  • Rewrite findings to electronical form, if was written by hand during the walk.
See my video about Gemba walk

3x example of Pareto analysis usage – read here

After Gemba? Do this.

Improvements actions is the next step. Team reacts on findings. Use created electronical list and take notes on following steps. This can be done different day to Gemba walk.

  • Review findings and pictures with team and process owner.
  • Define ideal state how should finding work better.
  • Clarify, if change could be quick fix, short term or long-term action.
  • Identify person who will lead each change. I call them – task owners
  • Ask task owner to define due date of the change. Task owner is always team member. If there is a need for other departments involvement, task owner is the one, who coordinates activity with them.
  • Proceed task by task with filling all required information. Leave harder tasks for later discussions
  • Set regular weekly or bi-weekly progress reviews with the team and task owners. 1-hour review meeting will be enough. You can continue where you stopped, on following meeting.
  • Estimate time or costs saved by finished change.
  • Do not forget to report successful changes to process owner , sponsors, and stakeholders.

I have prepared nice check sheet for you with all 3 Waste walk phases. Do not hesitate to use it, and share it.

Check list after Gemba. Free for download in the link below

And here is promised link:

I do videos, blog posts, and all templates for free, in my free time. I will appreciate if you can donate me a cup of cofee, for more energy in my creation. (1 dollar counts, too đŸ˜‰ Click on this link: I would like to support Erik in his effort

Gemba walk in the office- virtual Gemba walk

There are many office processes. It is not so obvious to see flow there. It is usually some sort of information going through department to department, computer to computer. People does not move very much, just clicking the mouse, writing something on the keyboard. It is very hard, or even impossible, to see what is going on in each step.

But there is dissatisfaction on the process end. And blame, and finger-pointing, and frustration. Well, there is a way how to reveal hidden challenges. As usually, you need team to help here.

21 yellow belt certification companies review – read here

Virtual Gemba walk main steps:

  • Identify departments involved in monitored process.
  • Ask departments leaders to choose team members. Make sure there are people working in the process.
  • Assemble team in the meeting room. It can be virtual session too.
  • Develop current state process map. It does not need to be very detailed. High level step description is enough. Use electronic form, like excel or Visio for mapping. It is easier to work on next steps.
  • Leave process map opened, to let everybody see whole process.
  • Let people performing each step to speak about process step in detail. Ask about pains or difficulties they are facing. Note each pain below drawn process.
  • Let people working in following, or previous processes to speak about their difficulties with particular process. It can be not correct information, or insufficiently filled form and so on. Note each pain again.
  • Do not miss any process step.

Well now you have list of difficulties people are facing. This is great start. Now you can continue like in usual waste walk. List pain description next to each other. It becomes a tasks list to be resolved. Identify each task ideal solution, identify tasks owner, and set a due date as described in this article above.

DMAIC example in manufacturing- read here

Download DMAIC tools list, If you would like to follow tools I suggest allways to use.

Download working DMAIC tool list for your usage

Gemba walk office example

Let’s show some details on life-style magazine creation process. Team created a process map. Chief editor creates first concept with idea of articles content– called windows. Introduce it to the team. Articles are distributed to editors. Writing articles. Editing articles and communication back to editors, if needed. Articles Making up by graphics. Final form and articles logic review by chief editor and corrector. Title page creation, magazine approval, printing, and distribution.

Looks like it should be an easy thing? But late approval and delivery to printing company is so frustrating and painful, because of penalties for delaying.

Team discussed each step in detail. Here you see all pains and troubles each person is facing on each process step. All of them affects final due date. Each point became a task, with described solution, task owner, and due date.

Gemba walk in the office training video

SIPOC coffee detailed example – read here

this a excel charter to download preview

Here is a link to download project charter template for your usage, with the brief description of each section. You are free to share and distribute this list.

Make information flow

Workflow is the biggest challenge here. There are many hands offs between departments. Team set up check points every 2 days. So every process member must do update about the progress on own work. It is electronical kanban system, showing work progress. Past due work is more under control. Also free manpower capacities are more under control.

There is also enormous load of work in short time, and much less afterwards. Work distribution is important to be leveled. There must be equal load during whole cycle.

Articles Priorities set up helped focus on the right ones. It helped to deliver some articles faster to next processes. Kanban system helps with work distribution. It shows processes that are currently most loaded. It is possible to add capacities to help with work in that case.

This is process map example with pains/ wastes identified written below process steps

I strongly recommend to have Learning to See book and Mixed model Valuestream for all managers, for all supervisors, engineers and leaders. You will be able to understand how valuestream should work, how to make value flow, and implement lean in any business, any process. It is really worth it.

Learning to See – Creating Mixed Model – Guru Books

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Do not hesitate to post your comments, questions, or themes you are interested in.

Yours sincerely Erik

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