White Paper – Lean Series – by Productivity.Inc
What’s the center stage of lean management?
The “gemba” is, of course. That’s the “real place” where work is happening, where value is being created. That’s the focal point of improvement, of lean thinking and action.
The “gemba walk,” then, just as it sounds, is a walk leaders and teams take to see what is going on in the gemba. Seems simple enough: walk around the shop, the plant, the office, or the hospital floor; check up on what people are doing; take a few notes about what you’ll have to change; make your presence felt; and perhaps deliver a few pats on the back, critiques, and pointers as you move on through.
Not quite. There’s actually much more to the art of the gemba walk.
As Taiichi Ohno said, referring to the concept of MBWA (managing by wandering around) popularized by Tom Peters in the early 1980s, “Talking about it is easy—but it is actually difficult to ‘wander’ effectively around the workplace. A manager wandering aimlessly can only bring about more negative results than positive ones. This disturbs people in the workplace and interferes with the work flow.”1
Rather than start off on the wrong foot then, take a few minutes to review the principles behind the gemba walk, understand its connection with leader standard work, and learn some tips to help you launch an effective gemba walk practice for yourself and your organization.