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.
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