The Importance of Gemba Walks

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Our team has instituted regular gemba walks to the production floor. The purpose of the walk is to identify waste, safety hazards, and other areas that need improvement. We are teaching line-level supervisors and operators to see the opportunities, and we are empowering them to reduce waste and improve the work environment.

Gemba translates to “the real place.” It is interacting with the coworkers to ask questions and listen to feedback, reviewing departmental and machine metrics, but most of all it is a personal observation of work happening on the shop floor. Photos and actions are taken and assigned immediately into our project management software, with owners and due dates. Our expectation is to see progress with each new gemba walk.

Cadence and rhythm are very important to the success of gemba walks. Coworkers must expect regular follow-up and inspection of previous assignments. It gives coworkers pride to complete tasks that have such a positive impact on the business. Set the walks on a regular schedule, get it on the calendar, and stick to them! We walk each department every two weeks to give the team time to make improvements.

We include not only the department manager, but also the production lead or senior operator to drive coworker engagement, and to teach Lean principles. It might help to have an agenda. We are looking for Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost Reductions, 6S, and Waste Reduction opportunities.

Let the coworkers know you care. Learn everyone’s name. Ask them what will make their job safer, easier, faster, and act quickly on the feedback.

Gemba before and after The BoxMaker


Tasks that need to be completed are logged in Asana – our project management platform:

Asana The BoxMaker


Andrew and Jacob working on 6S project:

6S Project The BoxMaker


Some of our results:

Gemba Results The BoxMaker