Continuous Improvement

Walking the walk with Gemba

What is Gemba?

Within a Lean organisation the term Gemba simply refers to the space where real work takes place or value is created. Derived from the Japanese word “Gembutsu” which translates to mean “The Actual Place”, Gemba in a manufacturing context is often linked to the factory floor or production area, however Gemba can mean virtually any physical space in which the product or service is actioned.

Whether it be design, production, quality or supply chain, the concept is that problems are often easily visible, and improvements can be made by going to the “The Actual Place” where decision makers can see the process in action and how it aligns to the processes in other areas.

Solutions 2

Gemba Boards

Gemba boards are a type of visual management board (VMB) that are designed to track the status of KPIs/KMIs in the short term through the use of short-term interval controls. Unlike a traditional visual management board which typically tracks lagging metrics such as the previous production or quality results, Gemba boards track leading metrics such as defects or attendance thus allowing for the opportunity for behaviour modification or preventative action to avert potential issues. 

Gemba Walks

Gemba walks are an essential tool in any Lean environment as they allow management and leadership to observe and assess the actual work being done and how it aligns with their expectations. Gemba walks differ from typical management inspections as they follow a more considered approach:

  1. Pick a theme: Although there will be certain elements consistent with each Gemba walk, it is useful to pick a theme for extra consideration and attention in order to freshen your team up on some aspects of the operation. Look at your current priorities when selecting a theme whether it be improved collaboration, waste reduction or increased productivity etc.
  2. Time to prepare: Gemba walks do not work as unannounced inspections, you must give advanced notice to the areas involved and include the theme. It reduces stress and in return you will receive more considered and relevant feedback.
  3. Process not People: Gemba walks should not be used to identify individuals who are over or underperforming as there is often other measures in place for that. Gemba is a process focused approach and should be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in the processes.
  4. Value Stream: Follow the flow of the processes and how departments interact with each other throughout. This is a great opportunity to find areas of waste or inefficiency. If you have Value Stream Mapping in your organisation, then you can follow the process in that order for a better overview of the production cycle.
  5. Second set of eyes: For better results have more than one person on a Gemba walk. Some Gemba walks are done by large groups or small groups but as long as you get a second vantage point, you’ll have a more complete set of observations.
  6. Record your observations: Keep records and notes of each Gemba walk to track trends and results from each one to the next. Create a Gemba checklist bespoke to your organisation and track your results and record your findings.
  7. Follow up: Use the information and data received for improvement. It may take several Gemba walks to get a data set large enough for useful analysis but unless you use the Gemba information to inform change then you will not be able to extract value from the process.

Find The Solution

Nvolve is the ideal solution to incorporate into your approach to Gemba, as it allows you to take training, SOPs and checklists directly onto the factory floor. Whether it is on-the-spot Video Training, talking an employee through a critical SOP revision or capturing sign-off directly on a Tablet Device, Nvolve will transform the way your work is scheduled, executed, and measured.

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