Developing a Hybrid Gemba Walk Practice

While traditional in-person Gemba Walks will be at the heart of many Lean Manufacturing practices, the evolving business landscape rewards a more innovative approach. Today, integrating virtual and hybrid Gemba Walks is not just an alternative but a strategic addition to modern lean management programs.

Developing a Hybrid Gemba Walk Practice


At the heart of Lean Management lies the practice of the Gemba Walk. Originated by Taiichi Ohno, the visionary behind the Toyota Production System, this practice emphasizes the value of observing and understanding work where it actually happens. While traditional in-person Gemba Walks have been instrumental in this endeavor, the evolving business landscape necessitates a more innovative approach. Today, integrating virtual and hybrid Gemba Walks is not just an alternative but a strategic addition to modern lean management programs.

The Evolution of Gemba Walks

The essence of Gemba Walks lies in going to the 'real place' - where the work is done. Traditionally, this meant physical, in-person walks through production floors or operational sites, allowing leaders to directly observe processes, engage with employees, and identify areas for improvement. However, the onset of global challenges, such as travel restrictions and the need for operational efficiency, has spotlighted the potential of virtual and hybrid Gemba Walks. These modern approaches complement the traditional, offering a blend of direct observation and remote engagement.

Benefits of a Hybrid Approach

The adoption of a hybrid Gemba Walk approach, blending in-person and virtual elements, presents a strategic innovation in lean management. This approach not only aligns with the evolving landscape of global business but also introduces a multitude of specific benefits that enhance operational efficiency, inclusivity, and adaptability.

Enhanced Accessibility and Flexibility

A standout benefit of the hybrid approach is the unparalleled accessibility it offers. Team members across the globe can participate in Gemba Walks without the need for physical travel, breaking down geographical barriers and making it easier to schedule sessions that accommodate everyone. This level of flexibility ensures that regardless of where experts or decision-makers are located, they can contribute their insights and observations in real-time, fostering a more inclusive environment for continuous improvement.

Cost and Time Efficiency

Implementing a hybrid approach significantly reduces the need for travel, directly cutting down on expenses and time associated with in-person visits. Organizations can allocate these saved resources towards other improvement initiatives or operational needs. Moreover, this efficiency means that Gemba Walks can be conducted more frequently, allowing teams to stay closely connected to the gemba without the logistical constraints of traditional site visits.

Broader Engagement and Collaboration

Hybrid Gemba Walks enable a broader range of participants to engage in the improvement process. By allowing for virtual participation, more employees, including those from different departments or functions who might not typically visit the gemba, can gain firsthand insights into operational processes. This cross-functional engagement encourages diverse perspectives and fosters a culture of collaboration, driving more comprehensive and innovative solutions to identified challenges.

Real-Time Problem Solving with a Global Perspective

With participants joining from different locations and time zones, hybrid Gemba Walks offer the unique advantage of real-time problem-solving with a global perspective. Teams can leverage the collective expertise of a diverse group, including specialists who might not have been able to participate otherwise, leading to quicker identification and resolution of issues. This approach enriches the problem-solving process with a wider range of experiences and insights, potentially uncovering novel solutions that might not emerge in a purely local context.

Sustainable Operational Practices

Embracing a hybrid model aligns with sustainability goals by reducing the carbon footprint associated with travel. As organizations become increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, adopting practices that minimize unnecessary travel without compromising on operational effectiveness represents a significant step towards sustainability. This not only benefits the planet but also enhances the organization's reputation among stakeholders who value environmental responsibility.

Continuous Learning and Improvement

The hybrid approach facilitates a continuous loop of learning and improvement by making Gemba Walks more accessible and frequent. It allows organizations to quickly adapt to changes, implement improvements, and assess their impact in a shorter cycle. This agility is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment, where the ability to rapidly respond to feedback and operational shifts can provide a competitive edge.

By integrating virtual and hybrid Gemba Walks into their lean management practices, organizations can harness these benefits to foster a more adaptive, inclusive, and efficient approach to continuous improvement.

Avatour: Enabling Modern Gemba Walks

At the forefront of this evolution stands Avatour, a technology platform designed to support effective virtual and hybrid Gemba Walks. Unlike standard video conferencing tools, Avatour offers an immersive experience through real-time 360° video capture, closely simulating the sensation of being physically present on the site. This innovative solution overcomes traditional barriers to remote observation, providing an unparalleled tool for lean management practices.

Avatour's unique features include:

  • Immersive Real-Time 360° Experience: Avatour's platform allows remote participants to virtually stand on the production floor, offering them the autonomy to look around and explore the environment as if they were there in person
  • Spotlight Feature: Avatour's signature "Spotlight" feature acts like a remote laser pointer, enabling remote users to highlight areas or points of interest in the facility for discussion. This fosters a level of interaction and specificity in observations that was previously unachievable in virtual settings.
  • Meaningful Interaction Among Remote Team Members: By supporting live, interactive communication, Avatour helps replicate the direct, meaningful interactions that are a hallmark of traditional Gemba Walks.

Through these features, Avatour not only facilitates effective virtual and hybrid Gemba Walks but also elevates the practice to new heights, enabling a more connected, efficient, and comprehensive lean management strategy.

Looking to the Future

The integration of virtual and hybrid practices into lean management reflects an innovative, adaptive approach to continuous improvement. By embracing technologies like Avatour, organizations can enhance their Gemba Walks, making them more inclusive, efficient, and flexible. As we look to the future of lean management, it's clear that the combination of traditional wisdom and modern innovation holds the key to sustaining and enhancing operational excellence.

Interested in experiencing the future of Gemba Walks? Explore how Avatour can transform your lean management practices by scheduling a demo or contacting us for more information.

Ready to Learn More?

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

Stay Up to Date with Avatour

Sign up for our monthly newsletter highlighting the latest
company news and industry insights.