In business, we talk a lot about the big picture. But what happens when we zoom in and focus on the details? That is where Gemba walks come into play. Gemba walks are part of the six sigma methodology. They are a way for leaders to get out of the office and see what is happening on the ground.
Doing a Gemba walk or walking the floor means visiting your business premises – whether that’s an office, factory or retail outlet – and observe how tasks and processes are carried out. For leaders in agile environments, Gemba walks are an essential part of daily life. They provide an opportunity to see first-hand how things are going and identify potential problems or improvements. In this blog post, we explain the importance of walking the floor and share tips to perform successful Gemba walks.
What does it mean to walk the floor in business?
In business, the term “walking the floor” refers to physically visiting each area of your company in order to observe what is happening. This can include observing employees at their workstations, talking to customers, and generally getting a feel for the day-to-day operations of your business.
This is a very important concept in agile environments, as it allows leaders to get a first-hand look at what is working well and what needs improvement. It also helps build relationships with employees and customers, as well as gain a better understanding of the company’s overall culture.
Why should you walk the floor of your business?
There are several reasons why you might want to walk the floor of your company on a regular basis. Here are Gemba walk benefits:
- It allows you to get a firsthand look at what is happening in your business. This can be helpful in spotting potential problems or areas for improvement that you might not be aware of.
- Walking the floor gives you an opportunity to show your employees that you care about their work and are interested in what they are doing.
- Gemba walks allows businesses to implement a culture of continuous improvement.
- They strengthen the relationship between management and employees.
- They improve communication and employee morale.
- They serve to optimize processes.
How often should leaders perform Gemba walks?
The answer to this question depends on the objective of your Gemba walk and your specific business needs. However, it is generally recommended that leaders conduct Gemba walks on a regular basis in order to ensure that they are up-to-date on what is happening in their business. A good rule of thumb is to conduct a Gemba walk at least once per week, but this can vary depending on the size and complexity of your business.
How much time should you spend on the floor?
The amount of time you spend on the floor during a Gemba walk will also depend on the specific needs and specific goals you hope to achieve with this process. However, it is generally recommended that you spend at least 30 minutes on the floor during each visit. This will give you enough time to talk to employees, observe workstations, and get a feel for the overall atmosphere of your company.
Here are tips for a successful Gemba walk:
- Focus on a specific goal or area for continuous improvement
- Have a structured format
- Talk to employees and customers
- Observe workstations
- Take notes and pictures. You will need them if you want to implement Kaizen principles later on!
- Use a Gemba walk app to digitize your insights and generate custom reports
How to organize a successful Gemba walk
Still not sure how to get started with your first Gemba walk? Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this process.
Focus on a specific goal or area for improvement
When conducting a Gemba walk, it’s important to have a specific goal in mind. This will help you focus your observations and ensure that you are gathering relevant information. For example, you might want to focus on improving safety in your company, or reducing customer complaints. By having a specific goal in mind, you can ensure that your Gemba walk is focused and productive.
Have a structured format
When conducting a Gemba walk, it’s important to have a structured format. This will help ensure that all areas of your business are covered, and that you are gathering relevant information.
One way to structure your Gemba walk is to use the PDCA cycle:
- Plan: Decide on the specific goal or area you want to focus on during the walk.
- Do: Conduct the walk and take note of anything that stands out.
- Check: Compare your observations with your initial goals and make sure that all areas of your business are covered.
- Act: Make changes based on what you observed during the walk.
Invest in technology
Although you want to organize Gemba walks but don’t know where to start, it helps to invest in technology. The Gemba walk app is a lean management solution designed for continuous process improvement. By digitizing your Gemba walk, you can optimize efficiency and reduce waste. Gemba walk software is also a great way to thoroughly document issues, reduce data collection time, and quickly assess problems.