Gemba Walk Guide

Learn how the Gemba Walk should be carried out in the workplace to achieve a continuous improvement process.

What is a Gemba Walk?


A Gemba Walk is a simple walk on-site to observe and question employees about their tasks in order to identify productivity improvements. It is derived from the Japanese word "Gemba" or "Gembutsu", which means "the real place". It is the act of making visible where the real work takes place. Gemba Walk is a simple yet effective method used by managers and executives to promote continuous improvement.



How to perform a Gemba Walk effectively


Performing a Gemba Walk is also the best opportunity to get good ideas, feedback, complaints and problems at work. Make sure that the information collected is continuously followed up to keep development on track.


Some helpful tips and recommendations to perform a Gemba Walk with questions and digital technology effectively:


1. Prioritise the areas with KPI gaps


A Gemba Walk makes it easier to identify improvement opportunities. Prioritise and mark the areas that might require attention. Collect data as a basis for improvement charts. Determine as well as who your target group or your employees will be, who you observe.


2. Use digital checklists

 

A digital checklist is an effective tool to efficiently carry out data collection procedures. The real reason for a Gemba Walk is to observe and record information. A Gemba Walk checklist also serves as a guide to ensure that all points are observed, queried and recorded. You can also use a checklist for other tasks, such as security checks, 5S audits and much more.


3. Plan your Gemba Walk


Never perform a Gemba Walk immediately. Employees may feel uncomfortable feel and think that they've done something wrong. Plan your Gemba Walk and inform the employees concerned. Perform a Gemba Walk once a week for about 45 minutes in each department.


4. Point important questions


To ask relevant questions during a Gemba Walk leads to an exchange with the employees and helps to establish a positive relationship between managers and employees. By asking the right questions, you learn gaps to see faster. Through a Gemba Walk, you review the status of priorities and action plans and determine if they are efficient to adopt specific KPIs and improvements.


5. Take notes and photos


Write down your results, Even better is if your observations are supported by photos visualized. This way you are more engaged and concentrate on observation and reflection. Most importantly, it helps you to recognize patterns that will later help you to revise action points.


6. Be a learner and show respect


Managers and executives must show the right attitude when they perform Gemba Walk. Remember, this is about the process, not the worker. Avoid making suggestions or sharing personal views, but be attentive and learn new things from the worker's insights. Give positive feedback for work well done.


7. Gather the team to discuss the learning objectives


After the Gemba Walk is completed, follow and share what you have learned from the activity. This includes problems, conflicts and gaps that require immediate action and resolution. This is the phase where you put plans for process improvement into concrete terms. Decide which processes should be retained and which need to be revised.


As one of the basic principles of Kaizen, a Gemba Walk aims not only to collect data, but above all to effectively promote teamwork. The introduction of this measure will help you to understand what is actually happening in the workplace or which processes have not worked well. You will also develop a good working relationship with the employees, because they will be listened to through you and learn new things, which are of great value for the realization of the mission and goal of your team.



A Good vs. a Bad Gemba Walk


A Gemba Walk is done to see what really happens and not to criticize. Here is a comparative summary of what a good and a bad Gemba Walk implementation looks like:


Good


  • Perform observations of employees at their actual workplace

  • Note the processes performed

  • Gain insights through employees and learn from them

  • Question which approaches and methods work well and which need to be improved

Bad


  • Collect information only from a conference or meeting room

  • Not knowing anything about how the employees work

  • Not to look for faults of others during the observation

  • Not to collect knowledge of ideas and personal opinions or conflicts of interest

Improve your Gemba Walk by using Lumiform, the flexible and powerful inspection app. With it you can optimize your data collection and productivity reports. Start with our collection of free Gemba Walk templates, which you can download and customize for free.



Checklists: Key to a successful Gemba-Walk


Using a checklist during a Gemba Walk is not an option, but a must. A Gemba Walk checklist are used during the walk to record observations and thoughts at the actual workplace. Use Lumiform, the powerful inspection app, to convert your paper forms into digital checklists. Maximize the functionality of Lumiform by taking photos of events, assigning actions and creating instant reports on the spot.




Featured templates

Gemba Walk Checklist

Gemba Walk Checklist

Use this checklist for a Gemba Walk through your production facility. See template

General Gemba Walk Checklist

General Gemba Walk Checklist

Use this checklist to document interviews, challenges and opportunities. See template

Gemba Walk Interview Checklist

Gemba Walk Interview Checklist

Use this checklist to report the working methods of your staff. See template