Gemba walks | A key component of leader standard work

Gemba walks and leader standard work are two sides of the same coin. The former are a lean tool used to assess the daily routine and effectiveness of workers on the ground, while the latter is used to assess the daily routine and effectiveness of senior leaders.

Everyone from workers on the ground, to middle managers, to those at the top of the food chain need to be held accountable for their work. Besides, there is always room for improvement. To learn more about how Gemba walks and leader stand work function, keep reading.


What are Gemba walks?

Gemba is an old Japanese term that means “the true place”. It  refers to the actual location of work being performed in manufacturing (or service). It is derived the Japanese concept of Kaizen.

A Gemba walk is an activity that helps you understand your business processes, identify problem areas in them, and find ways to improve them. This is a lean manufacturing technique that is leveraged by all kinds of businesses in different industries.

Lean managers use Gemba walks to gain new insights, improve processes and implement a culture of continuous improvement within the workplace. A Gemba walk involves a short walk around the actual location where the real work is performed. This allows managers to see entire processes from start to finish.

A manufacturer’s Gemba is the factory floor. Gemba walkers spend some time walking around and taking notes. They can also talk to workers to learn more about how things are done. They can watch how products are assembled, examine how materials are stored and even inspect machines and equipment.

What is Gemba kaizen?


What is leader standard work (LSW)?

Leader Standard Work is a set or sets of behaviors, actions, tools, processes, and techniques that apply to every leader within an organization. Leaders use them to improve themselves and others. They are referred to as Leader Standard Work because they strive to establish an improvement culture across the workforce.

How to do a Gemba walk 


How do virtual Gemba walks work?

A virtual Gemba walk is a good tool for businesses to observe its operations from afar. By walking around the shop floor virtually, you can gain insights into how things work across the organization. These insights may lead to improvements in the company’s workflow. However, if you don’t have the right tools to conduct a virtual Gemba walk, it won’t be possible for you to achieve much.

To ensure that your virtual Gemba walks are effective, you should ensure that you have everything set up beforehand. This includes having the right equipment, training the people participating in the walks, and ensuring that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.

A virtual Gemba walk is similar to a normal Gemba walk. The only difference is that it employs a more visual management approach. That being said, as in the traditional version, you still need to define your objective and rally team leaders. However, instead of a big group of people walking on the production floor, you have one nominated team leader performing the walk and recording everything.

Once you have the recording, you can gather the leadership team and implement all the necessary lean practices. In other words, you observe the standard procedures, identify areas of improvements, and implement the required incremental improvements.

Digitize your Gemba walks


What are the key elements of a Gemba walk?

During a Gemba walk, managers ask questions such as “What does this mean to you?” or “How can I make things easier for you?” . To ensure you are conducting your Gemba walk correctly, here’s a list of the elements that you should incorporate.

The workers

The employees who are on the floor on a daily basis are at the heart of the Gemba walk. After all, they can help you find opportunities for improvement and explain how things work. As business leaders, you need to treat them with the utmost respect because at the end of the day you are coming in and disrupting their daily tasks. When conducting an effective Gemba walk, it’s important that the people being observed know beforehand what the goal of the walk is. For example, if they are aware that it is to improve efficiency, they will feel more comfortable during the observation process.

The questions

A Gemba walk involves collecting data through interviews, observations, and discussions with people involved in processes. During the Gemba walk, you should ask questions that help you understand why things happen the way they do. You should also seek to streamline work processes. By preparing questions before the Gemba walk and using techniques such as the 5 Whys, you can collect valuable information.

The observations

Your intent during a Gemba walk is to simply observe without changing anything so that you can get a good idea of what needs to be improved. This can help you build trust between team members and management because they will know that you are interested in learning rather than judging.

The reflection

During the Gemba walk, it’s important to take note of everything that happens. You must write down every detail that you come across, so that if something does not work out as planned, you can go back and review the information. This will allow you to make improvements. You also need to understand that this is a process of continuous improvement so don’t expect to fix all the problems at once.

How to improve your business with Gemba walk


What are some important elements of leader standard work?

Daily management is just as important as the daily work on the ground. You need to ensure that your leader standard work is also being regularly checked as management behavior can be contagious and trickle down into overall work culture. Here are some of the factors that you need to keep track of:


Daily, weekly, and monthly routines are the recurrent management practices that define how managers work. These practices include recurring inspections, audits, floor rounds, and daily meetings. They help managers maintain a high degree of control over their teams and ensure compliance with organizational policies and procedures.

Top managers can also monitor the levels of adherence to these management routines. This helps them understand whether there are potential problems arising from the lack of compliance to the established routines.

Performance indicators

Key performance indicators (KPI) are used to measure how well employees are performing in their jobs. They help managers evaluate their work and make decisions about changes to improve efficiency. Managers often use KPIs to track progress toward organizational goals.

The four KPIs include financial, operational, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. Financial KPIs focus on measuring profit margins, sales volume, and inventory levels. Operational KPIs assess productivity, quality, safety, and compliance. Customer Satisfaction KPIs gauge customer loyalty and retention rates, while employee satisfaction KPIs look at job satisfaction and morale.

Promoting good behavior

In the global manufacturing industry, it’s essential to develop people skills, especially those related to leadership and management. This includes promoting the best behavior among employees. To do this, companies must use behavioral science techniques to help employees understand how to behave better.

There are five key areas where leading manufacturers can introduce innovative approaches to improve employee performance and reinforce high standards within their teams. These include:

  • Recurrent 1:1 meetings
  • Coaching on the floor
  • 360-degree feedback
  • Team-building activities
  • Regular communication


The link between leader standard work and Gemba walks

Gemba walks and leader standard work are inherently linked, as they both hold employees accountable for their work and look for ways to improve it. While Gemba walks are standardized activities that leaders must perform regularly, they also serve to verify that the correct procedures and processes are being implemented at all levels. Gemba walks allow leaders to observe how the work is being performed in order to make certain that everything is proceeding according to plan.

An example of a Gemba walk is a visit to the shop floor to see how an operator works. Another type of Gemba walk might involve visiting meetings, where various leaders discuss progress on projects. In either case, Gemba walks help ensure that the right procedures are being followed, and that leaders and their work are being assessed to a standard level, as is expected in LSW.


Gemba walk app

One of the best methods to improve performance within an organization is to conduct regular Gemba walks. These provide an opportunity to evaluate activities in the field by observing specific processes and identifying areas for improvement or problems that must be addressed.

Our Gemba walk app allows businesses to increase efficiency and eliminate waste by digitizing their Gemba walks. Using our app, businesses can easily take in-depth notes on any question or issue they encounter during the Gemba walk. This way, businesses can reduce the amount of time spent collecting data, and make better decisions about how to improve operations.

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