Going to the gemba is one of the essential activities of Lean and Six Sigma that we all must do. Every project requires it, every issue needs it and every person should do it. Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho once said "go see, ask why, show respect." A perfect summary of going to the gemba, but what are some of the basic items a lean practitioner can take with them for their trip to "go and see?"
Amongst the various reasons we "go and see” are the objectives to understand or observe what is going on at the gemba. It won't always be a problem and you may not always find an opportunity, but if we take the time to go, then we should take the time to try and remember the gemba too.
Pencil and Paper
One of the most basic tools you can take to the gemba is a sheet of paper and a pencil. Although there will be times when you need more, you don't need to resize PowerPoint slides, copy and paste excel sheets or shove a laptop in your pocket every single time you get marching orders to go to the gemba, just grab a simple sheet of paper and write a few notes. One thing to be aware of is that the notes you take do not get prioritized over the people you engage with. Keeping things organized is important, but you don't always have to draw a Picasso portrait while you are at the gemba. A simple list of the steps you walk will get you very far when you return from the gemba.
Depending on your objective a phone can be either good or bad. If you are going to "ask why" it's probably safe to say your phone should stay in your pocket. One of the purposes we ask "why” is to develop and stretch others capability to problem solve for themselves. This would not be a time to break your phone out. A few times when your phone would come in very handy are:
1. Gathering data - Most phones are equipped with stopwatches that you can use to gather data such as cycle times while you are at the gemba.
2. Photo/Video - Sometimes while you are at the gemba you will see something that you will need to remember or would like to watch again (slower/faster, closer/further) later on, the phones of today's day and age are a perfect tool for this.
Probably the most important item you can take with you to the gemba is a positive attitude. Greet everyone with a warm welcoming spirit and be ready to listen to anything that people have to say. Additionally, having a positive attitude in all situations will help show others that you are welcome to challenges and opportunities in both good and bad situations.
There are many other items, attitudes and tools we can take to the gemba. Templates can be very helpful in standardizing activities and formats but should be easily accessible and quick to grab. Check out our upcoming course called the ©WASTES methodology for waste walking.
Discussion Opportunities (leave in the comments below):
1. What items do you take with you when you go to the gemba?
2. What are some best practices you have used when going to the gemba?
3. What struggles have you experienced associated with going to the gemba?
One of My Favorite quotes from a great Manufacturing legend says "If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you have always got." This saying rings true today years after Mr. Henry Ford has passed away. Why is that? That saying doesn't note that what you've always got is bad nor does it say that what you've always done is not the right way either, but it does give heed that if we try something new we will get something different. This can be a troubling thought for some. Maybe what you will get, is not quite as good as what you've always got. Maybe you just don't know any different way to do what you've always done. So how do we make sure that what we are about to do yields results that are better than what we have always done?
1. First Define where it is you want to be
This is actually not quite as hard as it sounds. We often times think of defining where we want to be at a strategic level, you know visions and alignment and much larger scaled initiatives. But this concept is applicable to just about anything that we do in life. " I am here, but I would like to be there." Maybe it is as simple as my profit has always been this much but I would like to increase it to this much. Wherever you want to be just make sure that your "Vision" or your "Target" is at a level that is appropriate and accomplishable. Some ways that you can define where you want to be are; Setting visions, defining charters, strategic planning or outcome statements. Whatever the method you use, just be sure to define where you are headed.
2. Where am I at?
Now that we know where you want to be, it's time to figure out where you are at? A variety of lean tools can assist at this point in the Journey, but one of the most useful tools you can use is the value stream map. Understanding where it is we want to be and clarifying the gap between where we are and where we would like to be, is often a variety of issues. Mapping the current state, will help you grasp the entire situation and plan the best route to get where you want to be. Some other tools you can use to clearly reveal the current state are: Process charts, SIPOC maps, organizational value streams, implementation plans or just your memory and the Gemba. Just make sure you are honest and open with where you currently are.
3. How do we get there?
Now we have defined where we want to be and what it is we are currently doing. The next step is to figure out how do we do it? How do we reach our goal? Whatever method you used for the "current state" you should have revealed multiple issues that are impairing you from getting where you want to be. Now it is time to map out your future state (immediately after the current State). You now know where you want to be and where you currently are so you can properly plan how you are going to get where you want to go. Keep in mind as you document your future state map, you will need to create counter measures that remove all the "issues" you found in the current state. This will ensure that the future state map is an improved version of the current state practices and in many cases might yield a complete and total transformation.
4. Help your Team Get the Wins
Of Course with any transformation of what is normal there is always the risk that people will go back to “the way things are always done.” This is where tools such as standard operating procedures, updated policies and company training come into play. We want to make sure that people know what changes will occur and set them up to enjoy the journey in getting there. A few ideas that may help manage the change as you go from where you are to where you want to be are:
Submitted By: IEDP Developing Leaders
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The mistake many make, perhaps believing in the superhuman qualities of their leaders, is to leave strategy formulation in the C-suite, in corporate strategy departments, or with high-end consulting firms. The far better approach is to harness the creativity and sense of purpose of employees and develop strategic thinking across the organization.
Going to the Gemba is one of the most powerful principles of a lean journey. If you have not yet engaged in an initiative for daily Gemba walks we suggest you begin as soon as possible. At the Gemba we discover things that we simply can not discover at our desk (unless that is where the work is being done). The Gemba as you know is "where the work is done" it is "where value is created" and it is where "problems can be solved."
It is a powerful Skill to be able to treat the "Gemba" or a "Gemba Walk" as a Methodology in itself. Methodologies allow us to reveal issues and give us the possibility of solutions through teamwork and various methods. Here is one example of a methodology for "Gemba Walks."
Just Remember GEMBA
G- The G reminds us of the Overall concept that we all know, Genchi Genbutsu. Genchi Genbutsu means Go and See, we do this so that we can understand what is happening at the Gemba. This is a key principle and technique of any lean strategy. When we go and see what is actually happening we are better able to base our decisions on real facts, instead of hunches, opinions, guesses or assumptions.
E- "Engage" Engagement at the Gemba is very important. When we engage people at the Gemba it should be question based. The idea is to help the gemba stretch their minds and empower them to develop problem solving skills of their own. We are trying to understand what is happening in the current condition and not jump to conclusions. The 5 Why technique is a great way to understand why certain things are happening. Like any other problem though try to discover the "What" "Why" "How" and "Where". One last thing, take notes while engaging; some of the best solutions you will hear come from the people at the Gemba.
M- Muda, Mura and Muri, simply put being at the Gemba is a great time to observe what is going on there. You will have great opportunities to discover many forms of Muda, so introduce yourself to TIMWOODS while you're there. While at the Gemba you will get a sense of where people may feel overburdened and you will see processes that are not level. Take notes. Then you can attack all origins of waste later on.
B- Be respectful at the Gemba. This is a time to exercise humility and to serve others. We promise if you are respectful, humble, sincere and willing to serve, people will tell you where the pain is.
A- Finally analyze what you have collected. Be sure at this stage of the Gemba walk to include everyone at the Gemba. The individuals from the Gemba will be able to help analyze findings and often may add details to your initial discoveries. Including everyone will also foster a culture of teamwork and help develop a true lean culture.
The Gemba Methodology is a great format to follow when performing daily Gemba walks and it is rather easy for anyone to understand. One last thing to note after you have performed your Gemba Walk be ready and willing to support The Spirit of Kaizen. One way that you can do this is to offer yourself in service of finding solutions to the issues that are discovered. A Gemba Walk can be quick, easy and very effective in pinpointing opportunities for improvements, so start today and in time you will discover great and powerful ways to "transform" activities in each of your many Gemba's.
You may be thinking about implementing a Lean Strategy in your organization. Or maybe you just you haven't heard much about lean and you want to find out what everyone is talking about.
Wherever you are on your journey here are a few of the most common reasons organizations and individuals embark on the "lean journey".
Some of the small and medium sized organizations have realized that in today's global market it is not only tough to compete but very hard to survive. With the internet now reaching all around the world our competitors can research and access information with the click of a button. Along with the digital power of the internet many markets have been forced to be cheaper and quicker with no spared expense of quality. This means long lead times, safety stock, batches of inventory and excessive queue times must be eliminated. Whether you're in manufacturing or service the solution is lean. Lean is a continuous improvement strategy that a company embarks on to maximize customer value and minimize waste. The term "Lean" was first used in the book The Machine That Changed the World by James Womack. A lean organization focuses on providing complete value or Value added activities to their customers. Lean truly enables a company to focus on what customers want, while increasing satisfaction, improving a company's competitive market and ultimately enabling anybody to change for the better. What are those changes that we refer to as better?
Here are four changes you can expect as a result of a lean implementation:
1. The first and most obvious reason we will list is that a Lean Strategy Removes waste. Lean places a strong focus on what is known as Muda and the elimination of the 8 forms of waste. Those 8 forms of waste are Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over Processing, Over Production, Defects and underutilized Skills. By eliminating waste a company spends more time creating value and less time on wasteful activities. Let's look at an example. Valentine's day you're looking to go out to dinner with your family. When you place your wallet in your pocket do you put it their to wait in line? probably not. How about for the restaurant to rework your food? Hopefully not. No you probably put your wallet in your pocket to purchase food that you're going to eat and contribute to the transformation of the ingredients into the food you're going to eat. Those activities that you the customer are not willing to pay for are what we call waste. Lean works to drive these hidden costs out of processes.
2. Lean Brings People together. In order to build a lean organization a company must recognize the need for change. The strategy requires buy in from every level of an organization and asks that all team members are focused on doing their part. Principle number 10 in The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles, Dr. Jeffrey Liker writes: "use cross-functional teams to improve quality and productivity and enhance flow by solving difficult technical problems." He goes on to say: "empowerment occurs when people use the company's tools to improve the company." While it's true individuals create value the simple idea that lean tools require interaction and teamwork helps us begin to understand why the development of people and healthy culture is so important to the strategies success.
3. The Pursuit of Perfection. One of the best part about a continuous improvement strategy like lean is the continued focus on improving. The term kaizen suggests that it is through small incremental improvements that breakthrough results are created. If we look into the North American definition of kaizen we see the word "continuous" used alongside the word improvement. One synonym for the word continuous is constant. Constant means to happened all the time or very often over a period of time. By understanding this definition, we understand that Kaizen or continuous improvement is not so much an activity or a project as it is a part of our work ethic and culture that helps us to pursuit perfection and never give up.
4. Streamlines Processes, implementing lean helps companies dramatically streamline their processes. This includes office functions, manufacturing tasks, educational organizations and healthcare environments. If you have a process it can be improved, if you don’t it can be created and standardized. This enables companies to work to their full potential which results in a reduced operational expenditure along with increased speed and service to the market.
In Short a Lean Strategy really is the improvement strategy. Although these are only four reasons a company might embark on a lean journey, there really is no question that if you are looking to grow, transform and survive in today's global market lean must be a part of your organization or skill set.
What reasons can you think of that may cause a company or an individual to shy away from lean?
By: Steve Murphy
Mr. Murphy frequently writes about "Six Sigma in the real world." Mr. Murphy can be contacted via email by clicking here: Steve Murphy To submit your post on listen to the gemba visit: Submit a Post on Listen to the Gemba.
Like a lot of university students of my era when I wasn’t “working on the post at Christmas” I worked on factory production lines. One local factory used excess yeast produced by Burton’s brewing industry to produce stock cubes. No not OXO another brand using a modern technique to produce a crumbly cube. The production machines were modified sweet making machines and operating one was a black art. The correct process depended on getting the right balance of gloop and water to produce cubes of the right weight and strength to allow the wrapping machine to individually foil wrap them.
The term yokoten refers to the sharing of best practices and learning laterally throughout an organization. Could you imagine if the news did not report anything they learned? What if the radio never shared insights based on experience and what if the internet was controlled by one brain? Well we probably would not know about a lot of things.
While the term yokoten is mostly associated with "horizontal deployment" it is a much broader sharing than just strategically. The term can also be interpreted in a technical, methodical and philosophical way. When the principle of yokoten is effectively embraced by many, yokoten can transform a process, organization, online community and the world. Let's use 5S as a simplified example. It is quite common for areas of an organization to take a "liking" to 5S, at least in the early stages. As teams, departments and employees mimic and improve upon the original 5S (first performed internally) they not only gain the same benefits, but they gather new and innovative ways of improving the way the 5S system is executed. Now let's imagine some areas of an organization decided that they were not going to wait for others to notice the successful implementation of their 5S and so, like good students of an art, they shared what they did with other areas of the organization. Knowledge would then spread far and wide... Fast.
Of course we all want the positive benefits of improved performance but yokoten also contributes to a positive open culture. Here are a few ways you can begin using the powerful principle of yokoten in your organization:
Almost every project will include brainstorming of some kind. Brainstorming sessions can be a powerful gateway to unlock solutions, make issues visible and bring experienced minds together. When individuals come together as a team, innovative ideas can be born. One of the struggles of brainstorming is that they generate so many great ideas and often reveal issues in large quantities which can often be hard to organize, understand and worse yet can leave members of a team feeling invalidated and unheard.
While I don't know the entire story of how the affinity diagram was created I'm sure that Mr. Jiro Kawakita recognized the need to organize ideas generated by teams in the 1960's too. The affinity diagram is a very simple, easy to use tool that can take ideas generated by groups and place them into easy to read, understandable categories which can be acted upon. In order to simplify the process of brainstorming Lean Strategies International LLC used similar techniques to create a means of revealing solutions and symptoms through brainstorming. We call the methodology the ©CURE methodology.
What is the ©CURE methodology?
The ©CURE methodology began as a simple four step process to facilitate a brainstorming session and has since been used to assist in analyzing and grouping ideas generated from team or group meetings in such a way that they can be acted upon. While the affinity diagram is quite a powerful tool, there are many different, 3 step, 4 step and 6 step methods used to facilitate the process. As a means of standardizing the affinity diagram we created a mnemonic so that anybody could lead a brainstorming session that can effectively gather ideas and categorize them into groups.
How is the ©CURE methodology performed?
There are four steps involved in the ©CURE methodology.
As you can see the ©CURE methodology is a simplified and easy to remember process for conducting a brainstorming ideas. While the name is in fact ©CURE the methodology can be used to reveal symptoms and generate possible kaizen events too. As with any other facilitation technique the ©CURE methodology does take a bit of experience and practice in real life. Try using the ©CURE methodology next time you have an opportunity for brainstorming.
Chances are you have seen the andon system before. Chances are you may have engaged with the andon system before. The term andon is a Japanese term that refers to a system of notification which is widely used in many industries today. The word andon can be translated as "signal" or "sign." Simply put andon is a visual alert which highlights an area that needs support.
Just think if you were walking through a machine shop and every one out of ten machines was down. That would-be ten percent of your production for every ten machines. The andon system helps notify others of a need for support. If the proper personnel can be notified quickly of a line stop, the proper support can help contain the problem and eventually get the line moving again. Likewise, the system works in offices, healthcare and food industries.
How does the Andon System work?
The Andon system is a fairly simple, yet a very valuable system. A worker notices a problem or an abnormality, the worker then pulls a line, presses a button or activates a "trigger" by some other means. The photo above was taken in a lobby at Toyota, where lines were used to begin the trigger. The trigger then highlights the area where the problem is by visual and sometimes other sensory means. Once the area is highlighted a support team can then identify where the problem is and come to help resolve the issue through the application of countermeasures. Some of the common situations the andon system might be used in are: shortage of parts, defects found, a tool not working properly and most importantly if a safety issue is found. You may have seen the andon system in a grocery store or other retail outlets. When a checker needs support, they will normally flip a switch which notifies a team leader, manager or other employee that they need support. Whatever the abnormality the magic of the andon system is in the response. As soon as a trigger is engaged a team leader responds within seconds ultimately containing the issue and facilitating a root cause analysis of the issue. If the problem cannot be resolved the line will stop and further analysis will be performed. The idea is to contain a problem and resolve it as quick as possible however when this does not occur the andon system normally incorporates other means of capturing the issue and facilitating a much deeper investigation.
Using a system like the andon system ultimately prevents defects. Whether those defects are data related, health related, part related or transactional the andon system is one of the most effective ways to expose the hidden factory and prevent issues in the future which ultimately leads to a smoother flow.
As the new year comes to an end, new strategies, resolutions and goals kick into gear. We share with friends how much weight we want to lose. We talk with superiors about how we are going to improve and we set goals we've set before with the hopes of reaching them this year. Day one begins with the new goals. Day two, we are executing and day three one of them falls to the wayside. Why is this?
While there are many different reasons resolutions, goals and objectives might get misplaced one common way to avoid this is through the use of visual controls.
What is a visual Control?
A visual control refers to methods, devices, activities and or systems which are designed to assist in the management or control of activities. These means of control often employ other sensory characteristics along with a visual to better manage. A visual control is one method of communication that we can use to show at a glance:
1. How we are performing or progressing with our activity or work effort.
2. If anything is deviating from a standard.
3. What we need to do.
1. Progress/Performance - The visual control should show anyone who looks at it how the work effort or activity is performing in comparison to the standard or objective. One example of visual management that could be used for a new year’s weight loss goal might be a weight loss chart like the one shown below.
2. Deviations from a Standard - Visual management also seeks to identify abnormal conditions. While it is important that we see, and know when conditions are not meeting the expected level of performance, it is probably even more important that visual controls share knowledge throughout an organization allowing individuals to look, understand and act accordingly. If you had as part of your new year’s weight loss goal a diet, the plate shown below may be helpful to use at each meal. You can see what the standard is and you can see if the standard is being met or not and correct it accordingly. Now that's Lean.
3. What you need to do - Exception messages in ERP/MRP give us information and prompt us to act or receive information. A gas light on our car tells us we need gas and both our weight loss tracker and portioned plate show us what we are doing in relation to the standard. If we are not meeting a standard we need to understand the abnormality and act accordingly. If we are meeting the standard, we keep doing what we are doing or do a little better. The point is the means of communication being used for visual management should help us to make decisions of what needs to be done.
There you have it one easy tool you can use in 2017 to become much leaner. Just remember:
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