Gemba Walk Checklist
Q: “Do you find it easier to complete your Gemba Walk if you have a pre-defined form to take with you on the walk?”
A:This is an issue of your objective and your experience.
When I am taking a walk at a new organization to look at the big picture for the first time, my objective is to ask big questions about (1) the purpose of the value stream selected for our walk, (2) the steps the value stream follows and how well these steps are addressing the purpose, and (3) the engagement of the people. Given my years of experience, I don’t need a detailed check list (or a map) for this type of walk. Instead I try to grasp the big picture by asking a few simple questions: “What is the purpose of this process?” “Who is responsible for it?” [See my column of July 6 for further thoughts on responsibility.] “Is this process achieving its purpose and, if not, in what ways is it failing?” “What are the causes of these failures?” “How are the people touching the process consulted and engaged in improvement?” For this type of initial walk a loose structure and the opportunity to follow every question wherever it leads is actually very useful in uncovering problems just below the surface.
However, when my Gemba Walk has a more technical focus and I am trying to share methods with managers inexperienced in gemba walking, I find that a check list of more detailed questions can be very useful. I provide an example of the list I often use in my essay “Taking a Value Stream Walk at Firm A” in my Gemba Walks book.
But the best answer to this question is the answer that works for you in your organization. If you need a check list, develop one. But make sure its development is a shared task and that there is general agreement on how and when to use it.
Visit the Gemba Walks book page to learn what topics Jim covers, from the practical to the provocative.
Purpose, Process, People
When evaluating your lean efforts, Jim Womack suggests that you examine your purpose first of all, and then your process and then your people.
Create Constancy of Purpose
Looking back on the admirable work of two lean leaders who established constancy of purpose, Jim Womack asks: what would have happened to the world economy if every plant manager and controller had had their constancy of purpose to completely transform an entire management and business system?
Bad People or A Bad Process?
Standing in a nightmare of a line at the airport prompted Jim Womack to reflect on this problem, and conclude that this was indeed a case of a very bad process rather than any random bad person.
- Learing to See the Whole Value Stream: The Power of Value-Stream Mapping
- Sustaining Lean Goals by Taking a (Gemba) Walk
- Forward to Fundamentals
- Managing to Learn: Part 1 - How Lean Leaders Create Productive Problem-Solvers
- The Power of Purpose, Process, and People
- Lean Management & the Role of Lean Leadership
- Lean Solutions