Gemba in Japanese means ‘the place to be’. In terms of business, this means that you are in the right place in order to get things done and to meet the objectives that your company has set in place. In terms of business, it is where your ‘value is added’ to the company, for example, the manufacturing plant or on the shop floor. Let’s take a little look at how people have used a Gemba Walk in order to improve their business.
The major benefit of a Gemba walk is that you really take a role in the way that your business is being run. For example, you will be able to directly approach the managers that you are meant to be controlled rather than delegating what you want them to do via other members of staff or worse, over email. The staff will actually love this, and they will feel much more motivated to work as they feel that their ideas are getting heard as you are also given them the option to open up to you. Many staff won’t actually bring the problems directly to the management team, instead, they will keep them bottled up. A Gemba walk means that you are building up a rapport with them.
The Gemba Walk will also highlight problems within the business; you will be able to see who is working effectively and who is slacking a tiny bit. You will be able to spot the small problems and make changes before they become much larger. It is vital that managers know exactly what is going on in the company so that they can make changes which will make a difference, for example offering more training.
Many staff members feel like there is a ‘divide’ between them and the managers. A Gemba walk will help you integrate with them and lessen the divide, this is important if you really want your employees to work hard for you. The Gemba walk means that you are giving them the motivation to succeed.
You don’t even need to integrate with your employees, although it is suggested. Just find a quiet spot in the room and just observe the employees and see how your company works. Not enough managers sadly do this and ask a high-level manager the processes on the shop floor and they will be clueless. I find that only through a proper understanding of the way a company works will you be able to make it profitable and achieve the goals that you have set yourself.
Yes, as managers I understand that it is difficult to find the time to walk around their business and observe what is going on. It doesn’t matter though, you don’t need to be there all the time, just set a certain amount of time each week in order to walk around your company and experience how it works. Pretty soon you will be feeling the benefits that a Gemba Walk can give you.