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.
The Power of Personal Yokoten
Personal yokoten to teach new mindsets and attitudes is an activity all of us can perform out in the world every day with every manager, team leader, and team we touch, says Jim Womack. He believes we can transfer new, lean ideas about management and leadership in our civic roles and even in our families as we think through tough issues.
The Power of Yokoten
I’ve written a lot about yokoten in recent years – the practice of spreading good (lean) ideas horizontally between and across organizations from their point of initial success (“Yoko” means in Japanese horizontal.) It turns out that this is hard, even for the methods and tools needed to create lean value streams. Lean requires practice, even when the theory is clear and simple, and it’s hard to find enough teachers with enough experience and time to lead the cycles of practice needed for sustainable yokoten.
How A Complete Lean Production System Fuels Global Success
In this article prepared for the 2007 relaunch of the seminal book The Machine that Changed the World, co-author Jim Womack correctly forecast Toyota's rise, and identifes the key elements of a dynamic lean production system.
- 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