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Father of the Bride: A Gemba Walk

Post Author Bill Wolfe
Sep 29, 2015 4:46:15 PM
Workforce Insights
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As I get ready to walk my daughter down the aisle in a few days, the last thing on my mind is an article about a gemba walk.  However, it does make me think of some comparisons, especially since I can’t go on vacation until this article is written!  So here it goes.

  • fatherofthebride.gifWalking my daughter down the aisle has a clear time, purpose and place (albeit an expensive place)!

  • To complete this walk, I needed to do some pre-work. Okay, my wife needed to do most of the pre-work.  She has made sure to have Kleenex ready for me.  My part was to practice walking so as to not trip.  My high school basketball coach used to say that I was the only player he ever knew that would trip over the lines on the gym floor!  My pre-work also includes NOT thinking of my baby girl and all the years of enjoyment she has given me as a father.

  • All of you lean experts already know that a gemba means go to where the action is taking place. I am pretty sure that when I walk her in front of the Minister that the service/action will definitely begin.

Gemba  Walk Key Points
  • As part of your leader standard work you need to have specific times, location and an established “purpose” for each of your gemba walks. In the world of Outsourcing this is even more important.  When I was a Plant Manager it was easy to tell direct reports if and when I wanted to go see the action in their area.  When you are attempting to include your customer it gets even trickier, as you have to be nice and polite and make sure that they have time on their calendar.  Early in my Outsourcing career a customer gave me excellent feedback.  He told me that it would always be easy to make excuses or wait for a better time.  If you are going to have success with gembas and leader standard work you have to stick to the agreed upon time and location. 

  • Your critical pre-work involves having a very clear purpose for the gemba. What do you want to have employees show you on the floor?  You need to explore and/or reflect on improvement opportunities/accomplishments.  Learn from the people that are closest to the work and thank them for their efforts.

  • You can’t do a gemba walk in your office.  As one of our Vice Presidents likes to say, “Tell them about that walk that you do.”  It is critical to get out on the floor.  Back to the days as a Plant Manager I was fortunate to have a lot of fun visitors from corporate.  They were always there to help.   The Standard agenda would be a meeting followed by a tour.  We would give an update on our performance, which would typically be referred to as the dreaded “dog and pony show”.   Then the executive would give us an update on how things were going in the corporate world.   Sometime during the meeting portion of the visit the executive would typically receive a phone call which required his/her immediate attention.  “Bill, sorry, but I need to get back to the office.  I promise I will get out in the plant next time.”  That line was repeated and repeated.  Learn from the executive’s mistake and put the gemba on your leader standard work early in the day, get out there on the floor and learn something.    

Whether you’re preparing to walk your daughter down the aisle or go to the gemba, know your purpose, adequately prepare, and as the song goes, get to the church on time!

Interested in learning more about taking a gemba walk and how it relates to MAU Outsourcing? Click below to get in touch! 

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