Gemba Walk: An Important Lean Tool

Gemba Walk: An Important Lean Tool

Shubham Anil Jain
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited
Bangalore, India


A Gemba walk is a safety management technique that boosts productivity in the manufacturing sector. Gemba walks are the walks made by executives or managers to watch the production process and gather information from workers. The walk’s goal is to find ways to cut back on unnecessary tasks and find other ways to boost productivity. Lean and Six Sigma management techniques, which both emphasize the importance of a high level of worker safety as a component of productivity, both use gemba walks.

Gemba walk

Concept of Gemba Walk:
Taiichi Ohno, who is frequently referred to as the founder of just-in-time production, is credited with creating the Gemba walk. By creating such a concept, Ohno gives executives a genuine chance to break away from their daily routine, see where the real job is done, and establish trusting connections with employees. This lean manufacturing tool has the following three crucial components:

1. Go and See:
The basic goal of the Gemba walk is for managers and leaders at all levels to regularly stroll around the production floor and participate in looking for unproductive processes.

2. Ask Why:
The fundamental goal of a Gemba walk is to thoroughly examine the value stream and identify any problematic components through active dialogue. A good leader is always more than willing to listen than to speak. Here’s why you might employ several strategies, like the five whys method, to pinpoint the process’s problematic elements.

3. Respect People:
Remember that a “Gemba walk” is not the same as a “boss walk.” You don’t have to accuse others and point the blame at them. You are not there to evaluate and appraise the outcomes. You’re there to work with the group and solve issues together. Instead than concentrating on the people, try to identify the process’s weak points.

Steps to Conduct Gemba Walk:

1. Choose a topic:
You must select a theme before going to Gemba. This will enable you to effectively concentrate your efforts. There are other topics you could wish to research, including productivity, financial efficiency, safety, and others. You should also create a list of the questions you want to ask in advance so that you may be as specific as possible.

2. Get your group ready:
The team that will be monitored needs to be ready for what’s coming. All team members must fully comprehend that the Gemba walk is a standard procedure with continuous development as its end goal. Employees will feel lot more at ease and willing to work together in this fashion.

3. Priorities the procedure over the people:
You must keep in mind that a Gemba walk is not the appropriate occasion to assess your team’s performance. The process’s observation, comprehension, and improvement are the major goals. Focusing on a person’s individual skills will only result in opposition.

4. Stay in the value stream’s path:
You will have the best chances to locate regions with a high potential for waste operations by following the value stream chain. Eliminating those activities will enable you to increase your performance as a whole.

5. Keep a record of your findings:
Don’t offer advice while you’re out walking. Anything that catches your attention should be noted down or even recorded using a smartphone. You could feel tempted to provide a solution right away in some circumstances, but this is incorrect. Postpone the analysis until later. Once you have all the information at your disposal, you will be lot more accurate. Additionally, the comprehensive perspective can present you with chances to apply efficient problem-solving techniques like the PDCA cycle. Much superior to a quick gut instinct.

6. An additional set of eyes:
Consider inviting a coworker from a different department. Someone whose daily duties are completely different. People with less experience with the procedures typically have a different viewpoint and ask various questions.

7. Follow-up:
Even if your Gemba walk turns up nothing noteworthy, you still need to inform the team of what you discovered or observed. Otherwise, the team will simply feel as though they are being observed. If you intend to take any action following the walk, be sure to let the team know what will change and why.

Advantages of Gemba Walk:
Understanding the advantages that gemba principles can offer is crucial when thinking about implementing them in the workplace. Because everyone will be aware of what to look for and how to perform the walk, documenting the advantages of this kind of approach can also aid in its implementation. Review the advantages of a gemba stroll and consider how each will apply to various work settings.

1. First-hand knowledge:
It is incomparable to any other kind of information collecting. Instead than depending on others to pass along information that may be skewed in some way, a supervisor who takes the time to tour a work area can see what is actually happening.

2. Interact with Employees:
Spending time talking to employees can help you develop a good rapport and provide you the chance to find out what they enjoy and dislike about particular processes.

3. Standard procedures:
A supervisor will be better able to standardize procedures when they invest the time to truly understand how things are done. When a business is operating many shifts on the same projects, this is extremely helpful.

4. Continuous Improvement:
Opportunities for improvement will always arise if daily observations of how things are being done are made. The gemba process is one of the best solutions for businesses trying to maintain continual improvement in their facilities as a result of this.

5. Increase Morale:
Working closely with the staff and spending time in their workspaces can demonstrate to them that the company genuinely cares about their well-being. When done correctly, this can raise staff morale across a whole organization.

Guidelines for a Successful Gemba Walk:
It takes more than merely strolling through the facility with a clipboard and a template to conduct a successful gemba walk. In order to avoid simply utilizing these occasions as an opportunity to chat with employees (which is not a bad thing, per se), supervisors should have a clear notion of what they hope to achieve during them.

1. Where to Walk:
Simply strolling through any work area of the business is insufficient. In order to gather the most accurate information, supervisors should choose their walking routes carefully. Since the gemba is the team’s most crucial site, when conducting walks for the first time, the focus should be placed where the most work is done.

2. Who is Walking:
While the direct supervisor in charge of a particular region should lead the walks the most of the time, it is great if managers at all levels take part as well. When all members of the management team participate to the greatest extent feasible, gemba is most effective.

3. When to Conduct the Walk:
Choosing the right time for a gemba walk is critical. Finding times when things could go wrong, such as the busiest time of the day, is a great opportunity to find improvement opportunities. Shift turnover times are another good place to start. Ideally, the gemba walk should be conducted unexpectedly, at least some of the time, so employees are performing everything normally.

4. What to Look for:
Knowing what to look for is perhaps the most important thing when conducting a gemba walk. Some things are obvious, such as workflow slowdowns, machine maintenance needs, and more. Other items may take a more careful eye. Looking at job processes is a good option since it may be possible to find process improvement opportunities.

To assure the process’s quality, a few things need to be watched out for. The employees must feel heard and valued during a Gemba Walk, not condemned. Their input must be listened to attentively, without bias, and in a welcoming setting. Each person can be encouraged to offer suggestions for methods to solve the issues they come across under a Lean strategy, which involves everyone in the search for answers. They are in the greatest position to address issues pertaining to their areas of expertise.


  1. Womack, Jim (2011). Gemba Walks. Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. p. 348. ISBN 978-1-934109-15-1.
  2. Delisle, Dennis R. (July 2012). “Book Review: Gemba Walks, by Jim Womack”. American Journal of Medical Quality. 27 (4): 352. gemba-walk doi:10.1177/1062860611434364. S2CID 74508872
  3. The Ultimate Guide to the Gemba Walk
  4. Lean Safety Gemba Walks by, Robert B. Hafey

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