Continual improvement comes from when a process is being reviewed on a regular basis to improve its efficiency and the quality of the output. There are certain things that get updated or changed to achieve a continual improvement over time. It is through review of processes where they are checked to see if there is a room for further improvement. Often this requires processes must be seen with your own eyes to understand by having first-hand experience how they are carried out. This first-hand experience of watching something being made or watching a process is known as Gemba Walk. Gemba is Japanese and translates into “the real place”, so when a person intentionally walks into the manufacturing unit of a factory to see how things are going and if there are room for improvement, then it is known as Gemba Walk.

Gemba Walk is Different from Conventional Inspection Visits

Gemba Walk is different from the conventional inspection visits. During the Gemba walk, the leader walks through the manufacturing unit and observe the whole process and if it is yielding the way it was supposed to or not. It is validated if employees are familiar with the standard protocols, if there are enough resources for the required products etc. There is always room for improvement which is what often is identified during the Gemba walk. This also gives the leader a good understanding of how the process works and the chance to discuss any issues or opportunities for improvement with the people on the production line. Leaders often use the 5 why rule to determine the reasons behind any failure or issue identified. On the other hand, the inspection visits are conducted to see the overall performance.

The Objectives of Gemba Walk?

Gemba walks are structured and done with the intention of something in particular. This could be anything, but the goal is to observe it, understand it, and then think of the possible solution by engaging the employees of that field. Usually, Gemba walks are structured to observe production, customer service, implementation of standard protocols, safety, cost-effectiveness or creativity.

Creating a Gemba Walk Checklist

When there is a need for a Gemba Walk, there is thought in mind about why it is been conducted. That thought could be revolving around any number of areas. But the goal is the improvement. In order to better structure a Gemba walk, creating a Gemba walk checklist before taking the Gemba walk can be a great advantage. In the Gemba walk checklist, one can include question related to the improvement concern.

Here, are a few examples of Gemba walk checklists for process analysis, resource needs, problem-solving, and innovation areas:

Gemba Walk Checklist for Process Analysis

  • What is the objective of this very process?
  • Is the objective of this process fulfilled?
  • If it is fulfilled, then are there work standards for conducting this process?
  • Are the work standards clear, understandable, and available for review?
  • Are the workers trained for this process?
  • Are there any measures to ensure the required standard is achieved?
  • If the process is a failure, then what are the reasons?
  • What are the suggestions to improve this process?

Gemba Walk Checklist for Resource Needs

  • Are all devices/machines for the process up to date?
  • Do they have all the necessary resources available for production?
  • Is there enough inventory for production?
  • Is inventory available when and where it is required?
  • How can you improve the resource needs?

Gemba Walk Checklist for Problem-solving

  • How do we investigate if an error or defect has occurred during the process?
  • Has any problem/defect occurred before this?
  • If yes, then what is the course of action for this?
  • Why has this error occurred in the first place?
  • What are the employee’s suggestions for solving this problem?
  • How can we improve the relation between workers?

Gemba Walk Checklist for Innovation

  • If you want to create a new standard or a procedure, what would you choose for your first step?
  • What are your priorities in this innovative project?
  • What would be the reaction of workers for this innovation?
  • How much time would it take to be fully functional?