HOW-TO GUIDE: Gemba walks for executive leadership

Why are gemba walks important?

A gemba walk is a direct, in-person observation at the place where the work is being done. This popular management technique is the ideal way to gather information and interact with your employees. In manufacturing, for example, it allows you to walk around and observe actual processes on the shop floor, engage with frontline workers and explore opportunities for improvement.

Some of the key benefits of gemba walks include:
  • Taking management and senior executives to the ‘‘real place’’ where value is created
  • Getting information directly from employees to enable better decision-making
  • Observing and understanding processes carried out on a daily basis
  • Being aware of the successes and challenges faced in an effort to improve efficiency
  • Making sure standards are being followed and problems are corrected on time
  • Checking whether processes are working as they’re intended to work; and if not, why not

But how do you optimize your time spent walking around?


Getting the most out of your gemba walks

A successful gemba walk requires thoughtful planning, execution and follow-up. All parties involved should understand the purpose of a gemba walk, and follow a clear process and protocol to ensure its effectiveness. Leaders should ask guiding questions that focus on the process – rather than people – to give a fresh perspective and better understand the work, while relying on the insights and expertise of frontline workers.

Download the how-to guide Gemba walks for executive leadership and find out how to:
  • Incorporate a gemba walk into your site visit
    12 easy steps to prepare you for the gemba walk and any follow-up actions.
  • Establish a clear process and protocol
    All parties should follow an established protocol, and be aware of the process and purpose of the gemba walk.
  • Approach a gemba walk
    Tips on the type of leadership style to adopt to get the most out of your interactions with workers during the gemba walk.
  • Facilitate problem-solving
    A list of probing questions to encourage process owners and teams to take ownership and solve their own problems.

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