Gemba Walks: A New Way To Make The Workplace Better
May 30 , 2023
Suppose you’ve had the opportunity to tune in to the highly regarded episodes of “Undercover Boss” on CBS. In that case, you’ll understand the extent of astonishment and knowledge that CEOs gain when they visit job locations to observe operations.
Often, what CEOs think and feel at the show’s beginning differs significantly from what they think and feel at the end. They see how hard some workers work and how the boss sometimes needs to follow the rules. But they also see how creative some workers are.
Many people find it intriguing that the “Undercover Boss” concept has become a popular TV show, suggesting that many businesses do not understand what is happening. The show’s popularity also implies that people enjoy rewarding employees for their hard work or seeing bad bosses get their comeuppance.
If CEOs visited their companies daily, it would improve the workplace and create a better culture of trust, respect, sensitivity, and always trying to improve.
So in this blog, UrAudits, an essential internal audit app that can track workflow and perform audit checklists, will talk about Gemba Walks, its 8 crucial steps, best practices and the benefits of having Gemba Walks digitally.
What Is A Gemba Walk?
Gemba Walks are a familiar idea, that a Toyota mechanic named Taiichi Ohno initially explore it. Gemba means “the real place” in Japanese, and this word people have used to describe it since ancient times. Gemba Walk comes from the idea that numbers and records alone aren’t enough to fully understand a situation. To make better decisions and make things better, bosses and leaders need to see the actual place and conditions.
This helps them understand the effects of something and the “why” behind it. This is important because making decisions based only on numbers can lead to mistakes and bad choices.
How To Perform A Gemba Walk: 8 Essential Steps
Gemba walks are easy to understand, just like most other Lean concepts. But it is more complicated than just looking at the work. Gemba walks are done for more than just the pleasure of seeing what’s happening around you.
There is a specific sequence of steps with a clear objective. The number of steps varies, ranging from 7 to 12, depending on the source. However, the general order is as follows:
Step 1: Prepare Your Group
Both the people watching and the people being watched should know the Gemba Walk’s goal and what you’re trying to do. There shouldn’t be any nasty surprises; it should feel more like a chance to learn than an internal audit or review.
To fully understand how a process works and how it affects everything around it, it’s essential to have a team with various skills and expertise. This way, everyone can work together and see how each part of the process affects the others, called a cross-functional team.
Step 2: Make Plans
Before asking questions, you should know who you are watching and what they do. It’s essential to track the origin of the process’ inputs and the destination of its products. Your cross-functional team can help figure out how to solve these problems.
Step 3: Walk The Value Path
When things are made, you begin with raw materials and knowledge. As you work on them, they become something new – the finished product. This becomes the starting point for the next step in the process.
You need to go through the process step by step to understand how it works and where problems might arise. This will help us see how everything fits together and where things might get stuck or move slowly.
When the process is working right, everything will work well. But if something needs to be balanced, we might notice too much stuff (items waiting to be used) or too much downtime (when nothing gets done).
Step 4: Focus on the process, not the individuals involved.
You might think someone did something wrong because they didn’t do it correctly. However, the issue usually lies with the approach utilised. If someone followed the steps and something went wrong, the process, not the person, requires change.
Step 5: Write Down What You Have Seen
Having a central place to store the results of Gemba Walks is a great idea. The best way to do this would be to use a digital library that you can use for analysis.
With tools like UrAudits audit app, you can find repeating trends in observational results and employee feedback. The tool simplifies locating past information that can serve as a reference for upcoming Gemba Walks.
Step 6: Ask Questions
Don’t think you already know why things happen when you go on a Gemba Walk. It’s best to pretend you don’t know and ask for help from someone who does. By doing this, you’ll gain a better understanding of the process.
Sometimes the person doing the job has already offered ways to improve the process, but no one listened. Because of this, they quit giving ideas. So it’s essential to pay attention to what the workers say and do something to improve things.
Step 7: Keep Putting Learning About The Process Ahead Of Fixing It
Observers look for ways to improve while considering the company’s goals and resources. Because of this, it’s essential for this approach that you pay attention to the people on the front lines and in the field.
After all, the workers who do the process daily will likely have the best ideas for improving it. Observers should focus on just figuring out what the problems are.
Step 8: Perform Something About What You Uncovered
The last step of a Gemba Walk is to take action based on the observations made during the walk. This means the team should work together to create plans to improve the process and track those plans until they are complete.
It’s also essential to communicate the progress of the plans, including any that still need to be implemented, and explain why they were not implemented. This ensures that the improvements are implemented and the process continues improving.
Looking to streamline your Gemba Walks and improve your auditing process? Check out our internal audit app with customisable audit checklists and workflow tracking!
Gemba Walks Best Practise
Strategically, you can best perform Gemba Walks on critical processes, with conversations with frontline employees being essential. Ask them what’s going well, their challenges, and how they feel about their jobs.
Building personal relationships with employees can be beneficial for everyone involved. To achieve this, take the time to ask them about their job satisfaction, listen to their feedback, and establish strong connections. This approach can positively impact both the employees and the company.
Why Using A Gemba Walk-Through An Inspection App Is A Good Idea?
As discussed, auditing and inspection software like UrAudits can help increase the benefits of Gemba walks by giving team members a digital place to record, track, and evaluate observations and a better way to interact and work together. Using the UrAudits inspection app has several significant benefits, including:
1. Gains In Efficiency And Accuracy: UrAudits audit and inspection app can help reduce human mistakes and differences by standardising the Gemba walk process, providing adjustable checklists, and making it possible to collect data in real-time. This could lead to more accurate notes, faster data entry, and more accessible report writing.
2. Increased Openness And Accountability: You can make things more open and accountable by letting team members see and share notes and suggestions and track how action items are moving forward and getting done. This can create a culture of continuous improvement and hold team members accountable for making the changes that have been recognised.
3. Improved Teamwork And Communication: You can help teams work together and communicate better by giving users a central place to share observations, pictures, and notes, as well as give tasks and deadlines. By doing this, you can make sure that communication is easy and effective and that everyone on the team is on the same page and knows what’s going on.
4. More Visibility And Insights: UrAudits can create customisable reports and data that can give you more visibility and insights into what was seen and what trends are happening during a Gemba walk. This makes it easier to find trends and trouble areas and see how things are changing and what effects they are having over time.
5. More Adaptability And Scalability: UrAudits can offer more adaptability and scalability by letting Gemba walks be done remotely or in different places and supporting different team sizes and structures. This approach allows the organisation to utilise their resources more efficiently. Gemba walks can be done regularly, and we’ll be all over the place.
In conclusion, the Gemba Walk is a powerful way for managers and executives to see how their business works and find places where it could be better. It shows how important it is to learn the process from the person who made it, and it has a specific approach with a clear goal.
By taking the eight steps in this piece, leaders can create a culture of trust, respect, empathy, and a climate of continuous improvement. Leaders can make choices based on data and push for good changes that align with the company’s strategic goals if they pay attention to frontline employees and field people.
Boost your Gemba Walks with our internal audit App! Track workflow and meet your audit checklist digitally for better efficient operations. Try it now!
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