Gemba Walk Checklist: 10 Essential Tips for an Effective Walk

Gemba Walk Checklist: 10 Essential Tips for an Effective Walk

January 15, 2023


Follow our Gemba Walk Checklist to get the most out of your next Gemba Walk.

The Lean practice of a Gemba Walk can be a highly effective way to improve operations on site. Through first-hand observation and direct interactions with workers on the floor, continuous improvement professionals can better identify, and improve areas of inefficiency.

However, Gemba Walks aren’t as simple as just showing up on site. Without thoughtful preparation to execute the walk, it will be difficult to see the impact of all your efforts.

Let’s take a look at our 10 essential tips:

Gemba walk in a manufacturing facility.

1. Prepare a detailed agenda

Before conducting a Gemba Walk, create a checklist or plan that outlines the objective and scope of the walk. This plan should include who will be present, the route of the walk, and the expected outcome.

Be sure to include any relevant information that will be useful to the team during the walk (diagrams, maps, etc.) and consider any safety precautions that need to be taken.

2. Gather the right team

Include people with varying expertise who are knowledgeable about the process being observed. This will ensure a comprehensive understanding of the process and the ability to identify areas for improvement.

Communicate each person’s role on the Gemba Walk and the tasks they will be responsible for. Provide any necessary training in advance to ensure everyone is prepared for the walk.

Bonus Tip: If it’s difficult for key stakeholders to be physically present, consider using remote collaboration technology well-suited for Gemba Walks.

3. Ask questions

Ask questions about the process, its inputs and outputs, and the worker’s experience of it. Be sure to ask open-ended questions so that they can provide more detailed answers. This will allow for greater insight into the process and provide more opportunities for discovery.

Encourage the rest of your team to ask questions and provide feedback throughout the walk.

4. Take notes and photos

Document and capture each step of the Gemba Walk to aid in the analysis of the process later. Don’t expect to remember every little detail; photos and videos can help to easily recall information and provide a visual reference.

Bonus Tip: Use 360° photos and videos to make sure you don’t miss anything. Learn how 360° cameras work.

5. Focus on root cause analysis

Don’t get caught up in the outcomes; identify the root cause of any problems or issues that arise. This is key in order to properly address the issue and ensure it doesn’t resurface.

Bonus Tip: When analyzing an issue, ask, “Why” at least 5 times in order to get from obvious symptoms to the root cause. Learn more about the 5 Whys practice from Lean Methodology.

6. Identify potential solutions

Brainstorm and discuss potential solutions with the experts on site. Don’t wait to think of solutions until after the walk as you may miss key inputs from those involved in the day-to-day. With that said, don’t look for the perfect solution during the walk. Simply, give you and your team a framework to improve the process.  

7. Communicate findings

Share the results of the Gemba Walk with all relevant stakeholders. This will help to ensure that everyone is aligned on any changes that need to be made and the progress being made.

8. Prioritize solutions

Decide which solutions to implement first. This will help to ensure that you address the most pressing issues first while allocating resources efficiently.

9. Follow up

Track and report on progress to ensure the solutions are implemented effectively. This helps minimize the risk of issues resurfacing and ensures that the process or operations are functioning properly.

Bonus Tip: Schedule follow ups in advance to get feedback on implemented changes. Oftentimes, the workers on the floor will have insights that floor managers or other senior team members may not.

10. Celebrate success!

Recognize achievements and successes from the walk and celebrate them! This helps to motivate the team and encourage them to continue to strive for excellence.

The Future of Gemba Walks

When conducted properly, Gemba Walks can be a highly effective tool for continuous improvement professionals. Remember that the purpose of a Gemba Walk is to observe, learn, and improve processes, not to critique and put blame on the workers on site. The clearer the objective, and the more information you can gather, the more effective the implementation of new procedures will be.

This Gemba Walk Checklist also apply when conducting Virtual Gemba Walks. Emerging technologies have come a long way since the start of 2020 and continue to push the limits of remote work. Businesses across industries are already taking advantage of remote collaboration tools like Avatour to effectively conduct Gemba Walks and other site visits virtually.

Learn the Pros and Cons of In-Person vs Virtual Gemba Walks and see which method is right for you and your team.

An image of the Avatour platform

Avatour delivers the most effective way to walk the Gemba virtually.

The Avatour platform creates a shared feeling of presence in a physical location using real-time 360° video capture.

Whether you manage one location or 100, Avatour provides in-person visibility without the hassle of travel so you can focus on what’s important: the Gemba.

Click to learn more about the Avatour platform.

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See more about how the Avatour platform works, or schedule a personal demo.

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