Gemba walks are often misunderstood as “managing by walking around,” workplace inspections or audits. It’s not about walking around. It’s about walking with a cause!
A critical element of leader standard work, gemba walks are scheduled walkthroughs of a designated area or process with a very clear purpose. By design, the leader of every gemba session points out process improvement opportunities, questions existing conditions and assigns follow up tasks to be completed prior to the next gemba session.
These sessions are critical staff development tools that can quickly develop employee skills, encourage involvement and strengthen accountability. Positive reinforcement and modeling desired behaviors promotes a “do what I do” rather than a “do what I say” leadership model. Ongoing leadership presence demonstrates a real commitment to continuous improvement. Further, employees learn to view organizational leaders as teachers, and not just disciplinarians.
When you decide to “walk with a cause,” use these seven simple steps to prepare for an effective gemba walk:
Select a process, topic or theme and make it team focused.
The only way that you can change the way your direct reports think is by challenging and changing the way you manage. Be a rebel with a cause and transition your company into a learning organization that emphasizes employee training and development by doing gemba walks with a purpose!