TABLE OF CONTENT
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Gemba Walk is Good. Active Supervision Tours are Better!
Downloaded on: March 22, 2023
If you are interested in management methods that contribute to improving the performance of organizations, then Lean Management philosophy or Six Sigma has probably already appeared on your radar. Gemba Walk, waste elimination, Kaizen, Just in Time, 5S… a number of practices based around this great concept are currently gaining popularity. And for good reason!
They are flexible and aim at generating value for the organization, eliminating non value-added activities and encouraging continuous improvement, all with minimal investment (no CAPEX).
The Gemba Walk, for example, is one such practice that emerged from Toyotism and is being adopted by a growing number of organizations to help them understand the reality of their operations and optimize their processes, whether it is a production floor or administrative operations. However, Gemba Walk can (and should) be taken one step further to integrate the notion of leadership behaviors into the management of performance axes in what we call the “Active Supervision Tour.”
What is Gemba Walk?
Let’s start at the beginning. Gemba is the English word for Genba, a Japanese term meaning "the real place" or "the actual place" where the work takes place. It is also associated to the Japanese term "genchi genbutsu" which means "Go, Look, See".
The Gemba Walk originated from an experience known as the Ohno Circle. Taiichi Ohno, the originator of the Toyota Production System, used to ask managers to stand in a chalk circle at the point of execution of the processes to be observed and leave them there for an extended period of time to absorb the reality of the field in order to understand it better.
Couldn’t the same result be achieved by installing cameras or consulting reports, I hear you ask. The answer is actually no, not at all. What Ohno understood was that operations management is not a desk job– it takes place on the shop floor, with the team members.
And it is in this spirit that Gemba Walk elevates this observational practice into a more active mode. The supervisor is therefore responsible for monitoring the progress of production, informing employees of the objectives for the upcoming period, capturing performance gaps and taking the necessary action to resolve them.
How to conduct a Gemba Walk?
Here are the 5 basic steps of an effective Gemba Walk*:
- Determine the critical areas and key steps in each process (where to go).
- Determine an indicator for each key stage (what to check).
- Carry out the tour on the factory floor using a checklist:
- For each workstation, validate in real time the indicator identified for the process step
- Ask the operators if they have any issues to report.
- Note the actions to be taken to remedy the issues.
- Follow up on the actions taken to solve the issue
*It should be noted that this is a semi-structured approach, which means that there is no single formula for Gemba Walk, but rather a multitude of variations inspired by the Toyota model.
In a hurry? Save this article as a PDF.
Tired of scrolling? Download a PDF version for easier offline reading and sharing with coworkers.
Download a PDF version.
Adopt active supervision and put people at the heart of the process
For successful integration and lasting benefits, Proaction International’s experts guide you through the configuration, implementation, and adoption of UTrakk DMeS.