What are Gemba Walks and why they should become Standard Work for leaders?

 

 

The Gemba Walk is a walk through the value creating (or destroying) processes of your business.  The leader walks the process to understand how the business is actually working.  It is about getting out of the office and into the process with our people, to help our teams discover issues and fix them.  It becomes a valuable mechanism for staying in touch with our managers and team leaders, and staying across the real operational issues in our business.  When we do Gemba Walks regularly (preferably daily), we demonstrate that we are serious about continuous improvement, and that we are the 'lean leadership' our personnel want and need.  They are so effective at changing organisations we believe that they should not only be regular but standard work, a planned and deliberate cornerstone of leadership in your business.

 

Some other reasons why leaders need to build Gemba walks into their daily routine include that

 

  • We can address problems in real time and help identify baseline performance levels.

  • We can lead by example and model an action-oriented culture based on structured problem solving and PDCA.

  • We can use the Gemba Walk to reiterate our vision for the organisation and make sure we are doing the 'right things' - right.  There is no better way to reinforce our vision than repeated face-to-face dialogue.

  • We can break down the barriers between management and the teams and improve communication channels throughout the operation.  Often, team leaders and team members will be reluctant to raise issues for fear of being 'wrong.'

  • The Gemba Walk helps us build relationships with our team leaders by getting to know them better and helping them improve their processes.  This is fundamental to improving teamwork and the effectiveness of our teams.

  • We can help people discover opportunities for improvement by asking questions and listening to the answers.  In this way, we can offer real support, encouragement and praise, something which is fundamental to effective Lean leadership.

  • The Gemba walk becomes a mechanism for 'catching' people doing the right things and allows us to recognise people for the good work that they do.  Lean leadership can use the Gemba Walk to improve morale by actively showing respect for people.

  • Our visibility shows that we care about how things are going, and want to support the teams to set targets and improve performance. When we show interest in certain aspects of the operation, the teams will usually also take an interest.

  • By getting the daily issues under control with input from frontline people, leadership can concentrate on more strategic issues.

 

To learn more about this and other leader standard work that can contribute to effective Lean leadership, call Efficiency Works on +61 7 3340 5178 or email info@efficiencyworks.com.au .

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