What is a Gemba Walk and Why is it Important?
A Gemba Walk is a lean management technique that involves going to the “gemba” or the place where work is actually being done. The purpose of a Gemba Walk is to observe and identify opportunities for improvement in safety, quality, efficiency, and other areas of the business.
Gemba Walks are important because they help managers and leaders to gain a better understanding of the work being done and the challenges faced by employees. By going to the gemba, managers can see firsthand how processes are being carried out, identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks, and engage with employees to understand their perspectives and ideas for improvement.
Elements of an Effective Gemba Walk
The elements that make up an effective Gemba Walk, include:
- Preparation: Before starting a Gemba Walk, it’s important to prepare by identifying the goals and objectives of the walk, reviewing relevant data and information, and determining the areas or processes to be observed.
- Observation: During the Gemba Walk, the manager or leader should observe the work being done and look for opportunities for improvement in safety, quality, efficiency, and other areas. It’s important to ask questions and engage with employees to understand their perspectives and ideas for improvement.
- Analysis: After the Gemba Walk, the manager or leader should analyze the observations and data collected to identify patterns, trends, and opportunities for improvement. This analysis should be used to develop action plans and prioritize improvement initiatives.
- Follow-up: Follow-up is an essential element of an effective Gemba Walk. The manager or leader should follow up with employees to ensure that improvement initiatives are being implemented and to measure the impact of the improvements on safety, quality, efficiency, and other areas.
What is Included in a Gemba Walkthrough Checklist?
A Gemba Walkthrough Checklist is a tool used to guide the observation and analysis of the work being done during a Gemba Walk. While there is no one-size-fits-all Gemba Walkthrough Checklist, some common elements that may be included are:
- Safety: This section of the checklist should include items related to PPE, safety procedures, and potential hazards.
- Quality: This section of the checklist should include items related to product or service quality, defects or non-conformities, and opportunities for improvement.
- Efficiency: This section of the checklist should include items related to process flow, bottlenecks, delays, and opportunities for improvement.
- Standardisation: This section of the checklist should include items related to standard work procedures, variations in processes or procedures, and opportunities to standardize processes or procedures.
- Visual Management: This section of the checklist should include items related to work area organization, signs and labels, and opportunities to improve the visual management system.
- 5S: This section of the checklist should include items related to workplace organization and cleanliness, proper labelling and storage of tools and equipment, and the sustainability of 5S practices.
- Employee Engagement: This section of the checklist should include items related to employee engagement in work and continuous improvement efforts.
- Maintenance: This section of the checklist should include items related to equipment maintenance and repair needs, and employee training in basic maintenance tasks.
- Customer Focus: This section of the checklist should include items related to meeting customer needs and expectations, addressing customer complaints or issues, and opportunities to improve the customer experience.
- Teamwork: This section of the checklist should include items related to collaboration, communication, and opportunities to improve teamwork.
Benefits of a Gemba Walk
There are several benefits to conducting Gemba Walks, including:
- Improved Employee Engagement: Gemba Walks provide managers and leaders with an opportunity to engage with employees and understand their perspectives and ideas for improvement. This engagement can lead to increased motivation, morale, and a sense of ownership and pride in the work being done.
- Enhanced Process Improvement: By observing the work being done and identifying opportunities for improvement, Gemba Walks can help to enhance process efficiency, quality, safety, and other areas of the business.
- Better Communication and Collaboration: Gemba Walks can help to break down communication barriers and foster collaboration between departments, teams, and individuals.
- Increased Customer Satisfaction: By focusing on meeting customer needs and expectations, Gemba Walks can lead to improvements in the customer experience and increased customer satisfaction.
- Improved Leadership Skills: By engaging in Gemba Walks, managers and leaders can develop their leadership skills by practising active listening, empathy, and problem-solving.
Developing a Gemba Walkthrough Checklist
To develop a Gemba Walkthrough Checklist, follow these steps:
- Identify the areas or processes to be observed: Determine the areas or processes that will be observed during the Gemba Walk, based on the goals and objectives of the walk.
- Determine the items to be included in the checklist: Based on the areas or processes to be observed, determine the items to be included in the checklist. Consider the elements of an effective Gemba Walk (preparation, observation, analysis, and follow-up) as well as the potential areas for improvement (safety, quality, efficiency, standardization, visual management, 5S, employee engagement, maintenance, customer focus, and teamwork).
- Create the checklist: Create the checklist by organizing the items identified in step 2 into a logical order. Use simple, clear language and avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to employees.
- Test the checklist: Test the checklist by using it during a Gemba Walk and refining it based on feedback from employees and observations made during the walk.
- Incorporate the checklist into Gemba Walks: Incorporate the checklist into Gemba Walks and use it to guide the observation and analysis of the work being done.
Below: Digital Gemba Walk Checklist by DIGI CLIP mobile forms
DIGI CLIP mobile forms provide digital safety, compliance & inspections checklists
Digital Gemba Walk Checklist
While conducting paper gemba walks and safety observations can be time-consuming and prone to human error, adopting digital checklists can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of pre-start inspections. Digital checklists are becoming increasingly popular in the transportation industry as they can streamline the inspection process.
Digital checklists allow managers and safety professionals to conduct inspections and observations quickly and easily on a mobile device or tablet. The checklists can be customised to include specific checklist items, and managers and safety professionals can record their observations, attach photos and add a digital signature for accountability. Digital checklists also have the advantage of being submitted to a cloud-based software with a central database, providing real-time reporting and analysis of inspections.
Implementing digital checklists can improve the accuracy of inspections, reduce errors, and provide managers with real-time information on the status of what is happening on the ground. Digital checklists can also provide an audit trail of inspections, making it easier to demonstrate compliance with regulations in the event of an audit or investigation.
Gemba Walks are an effective Lean management technique that can help managers and leaders to gain a better understanding of the work being done and identify opportunities for improvement. By preparing for the walk, observing the work being done, analyzing the data collected, and following up on improvement initiatives, managers and leaders can enhance employee engagement, improve process efficiency and quality, and foster better communication and collaboration. Developing a Gemba Walkthrough Checklist can help to guide the observation and analysis of the work being done and ensure that all areas of the business are considered during the walk.
DIGI CLIP mobile forms – What Do We Do?
DIGI CLIP mobile forms is an easy-to-use inexpensive digital checklist & inspection app and cloud-based software. DIGI CLIP is used across different industries to capture safety and compliance data and other information to help improve safety, compliance and operational efficiencies.
DIGI CLIP will allow you to remove paper reporting from your business – no more lost, late missing or illegible checklists. The DIGI CLIP mobile app allows images, comments and digital signatures to be added to checklists from a phone or tablet.
DIGI CLIP has a Form Library where you can access all of your checklists, inspections and more ready for use. All checklists and inspections can be edited or updated to meet your risk and operational requirements.
DIGI CLIP also has a safety management module called Safety Tracker. Safety Tracker is our incident and hazard reporting and management software application that adds to DIGI CLIP mobile forms. Incidents and hazards are reported via the DIGI CLIP app or directly on the cloud-based software. Incident and quality Investigations and hazard assessments are completed on templates provided by DIGI CLIP and corrective and closeout actions are tracked by the cloud-based software.
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