Gemba Walk 101: Benefits, Knowing The Process, And More!


Operational efficiency – This is a global business objective and concern. Managers usually have access to data and details, but in most cases, they don’t have much clue of what’s happening on the actual work floor. Gemba walk is an approach in that direction. Before we discuss more on how to do a Gemba walk, let’s discuss more on definition, benefits and other aspects.

What exactly is a Gemba walk?

Gemba walk is a specific kind of management exercise, where managers go to the work floor (could refer to a factory, manufacturing unit and production facility) and find the possible ways of improving operational efficiency. This is more about the process of work, rather than people.

Benefits at a glance

The best way of knowing work process is by interacting with people and checking things in person. Gemba walks take managers out of their comfort zone into the real place of work, where they can observe, take notes and ask questions, so as to improve operations and work flow. This is a standard exercise in many industries, and Toyota made it quite popular. It also allows scope for managers to connect with workers and take genuine feedback on relevant aspects of their job.

How to conduct Gemba walks successfully?

Managers need to understand that Gemba walk is a systematic process, and for that, they have to take notes, documents and photos. There are apps available that are designed for first-line managers, which can be really handy for simplifying the process of Gemba walk. It is necessary to take note of the following –

  1. Gemba walk is not a bossy exercise. You don’t want to scare, intimidate people on the work floor.
  2. Workers need to know what the process is all about, so that they can prepare if required.
  3. There should be minimal disruption to the work flow during a Gemba walk.
  4. Questions are critical for getting feedback, and employees and workers must be encouraged to talk.
  5. All aspects must be noted. As we mentioned, Gemba walk apps can be handy, and managers must prep in advance.

With all that in mind, you also need to understand that the process may time. Gemba walks must be scheduled at specific times of the day, and on days when you are in a rush, reschedule your exercise. Managers need to patient listeners and must observe extensively to make the most of each Gemba walk.

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