Many organizations which implements Lean principles know the importance of understanding Gemba Walk activities. For companies to improve and develop successful business practices, they have to understand their people, processes and clients. Doing Gemba Walks can help managers to map their processes to fully understand how their business works as well as to eliminate waste and identify areas which needs improvement.
The Importance Of Understanding Gemba
Gemba comes from a Japanese word and is used when referring to the actual or real place. Simply put, this is the area in an organization where all the work is done. Lean manufacturing is influenced significantly by Gemba Walk, based on the fact that every problem can be identified and management should visit the production floor to learn about the different processes and interact with workers. For the Gemba Walk to be successful, the managers have to learn and listen.
Therefore, Gemba requires managers to visit the production or service area to identify problems and ensure that waste is eliminated. While visiting the actual work area, managers will listen to the workers and learn about the different processes. After meeting employees, hearing about their problems, studying their behavior and observing the processes, it will be easier to identify any loophole and answer questions.
Gemba: The Different Types
There are actually different types, although Gemba is basically about making sure that the interaction/production area or factory floor is not isolated from the managers or the decision making team. For quality management, Gemba means the manufacturing area but there is also the customer area.
This is really about ensuring that management is up to date with everything that is taking place on the factory floor or production area. When management remain in their own offices which are far away from everything that is happening in the organization, it will be difficult for them to resolve problems quickly. However, through Gemba Walking they can visit the work environment on a regular basis to look for quality issues and take action to resolve them immediately.
Gemba Walk will play a very important role in any organization, especially since this process must be carried out in an objective and methodical manner. During this process, the managers can find out about the existing problems that the shop floor workers are experiencing. The processes could be recorded on paper document, but those who are involved in the actual work processes must give their input for the managers to know if all aspects of the business processes are taken into consideration.
Overall, managers who understand Gemba Walk principles know that the importance of having firsthand knowledge to solve problems. So based on the Gemba principle, a manager should physically visit the ground floor to understand the issues or problems from all possible angles.