Management has numerous challenges for sure, but one of the core aspects is about improving operational efficiency. Gemba, which translates into the ‘real place’ in Japanese is a management tool for the very purpose. In simple word, Gemba walk is the process, where management visits the workplace, which could refer to a factory, store, or even a warehouse, so as to view the process and steps involved. Today, businesses rely on Gemba walk to find the possible flaws in operations, although this is not a corrective exercise or a means to reprimand or improve employees. With new apps, the process of Gemba walk can be automated and simplified, so the management can expect to learn and take necessary steps from the exercise.
In case of Gemba walk, the focus is on in-person observation. Basically, managers go to the actual workplace rather than discussing and finding problems in a meeting room. As the actual Gemba walk begins, managers and leaders talk to the workers and employees, so as to understand the work flow and if there are any deviations. Gemba walks may be necessary for more than one time each day, depending on what the management wants to achieve. There are no suggestions or corrective steps taken during the actual walk. Instead, managers can take photos and note observations, for which now there are ready apps.
Conducting Gemba walks
It is absolutely necessary to conduct and do Gemba walk as per the actual standards. First and foremost, every worker should be aware of the process and must be participative in the event, with a clear understanding that this is not about how they do their job. Unlike Management by Walking Around (MBWA), this is a completely about a specific concern and concrete results should come out of it. Managers are expected to ask very detailed questions about each process and step in the work flow, and the idea is to go in sync with how the work moves within the organization. It is also necessary to observe and take note of everything, which is the precise reason why using an app that’s designed for Gemba walk is a good idea.
When it comes to an exercise like Gemba, the management needs to get the process right and must not treat it as a means to take action. Instead, all the observations and notes are to be discussed later, so as to take necessary decisions.