Gemba Walking: Mind the people

Gemba Walking: Mind the people

Mind the people – 3 points to pay attention to when GEMBA walking. 

The best thing about going to see “the real place” is meeting the real people. Your goals are to raise motivation, trigger ideas for improvement and ensure people can perform.

1. Interest shows respect which creates motivation

Everybody wants to be seen and respected as a person, not as “an operator” or “a function”. Unsurprisingly, it’s very motivating, if somebody from a different department, and even more if from a higher hierarchical level, is actually interested in how he/she contributes to making this company successful.
Remember that this form of respectful interest needs eye-level interaction. Whenever possible, introduce yourself briefly and explain what you are doing and what you are looking for. Offer a handshake, if it fits your style. You will find people are more open to what you want to discuss.

2. Ideas for improvement

Of course it’s in line with showing respect to ask for ideas for improvement.
My favorite questions are:
– “What annoys you most in your daily work?”
– “What makes you want to come in?”
This allows discussion on how to improve while explaining company goals. You as a Gemba Walker are responsible for developing the understanding of how everyone contributes to the bigger picture.
Doing this, you will likely gain some great ideas for improvement while motivating your team and increase the focus on the current objectives.

3. Ensure people can perform 

This means checking the match between a person’s responsibility and his/her capability and authority to take the right decisions and drive performance. It’s about understanding what it takes to make the process perform.

Some guiding questions for your Gemba Walk:

– “Do you have to wait for decisions to be made in your process by other people? Are decisions repetitive?”
Could this person be supported with process standards for taking decisions?

– Is it simple and clear how to access resources required to make this process perform? Pragmatic straight forward solutions are being implemented quickly?
What would make people give responses like: “Yes, it’s up to me to drive process improvement!”

– Is it simple and clear which part of the process must not be touched?
Compliance and quality risks need to be fixed


We appreciate some good exchange on the topic. What’s your experience?

Follow our Blog, to get our next posts, e.g. on “Managing Performance while walking the Gemba”

Or come to visit our Input & Exchange Session in Hamburg on June 20, 2019: Impact through Gemba Walks

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