Looking for Lean Opportunities? Take a (Gemba) Walk

While we don’t tend to call them resolutions at work, the start of the year is a good time to set goals and implement strategies to get there. And just like at home, 2020 has many of us thinking of ways to be more lean.

For some, trying to determine a lean project to embark upon can be a cumbersome task and it can be difficult to know where or how to start. However, simply by applying the Go and See principle by incorporating a gemba walk in your daily routine can help identify lean opportunities in no time!

The process is simple. Go to the work environment where the work is being done (the gemba), observe the process first hand, and ask process owners open ended questions regarding the work they are performing to gain better insight as to how things are flowing, what obstacles may exist, etc. Below are a list of questions that can aid you on your future gemba walk as you interview process owners:

  1. What are you working on right now?
  2. Is there an established process for completing the task?
  3. What challenges are you facing?
  4. How do you identify a challenge?
  5. What can you fix on your own?
  6. What do you need help with fixing?
  7. Who do you talk to when something goes wrong?
  8. Do you use a visual management board?
  9. If yes, is it useful and how does it help?
  10. If no, why don’t you use one?

After compiling answers to these questions, you can quickly decipher between value-add vs. non-value-add activities and determine a game plan to better (or eliminate) the process, keeping in mind both internal and external customers.

Keeping the gemba walk part of your daily routine makes you visible to the team, creates open dialogue, and provides feedback, suggestions, and ideas — all of which can be used to continually better the process. Plus, the process owners see their input transferred into actions and results, helping instill a never ending lean culture.

So, make the gemba walk part of your New Year’s resolution and never stop improving!

Gemba