10 Best Practices for Going to the Gemba (Part 2)


Since it’s very easy to simply go through the motions when going to the gemba, this episode contains the second half of 10 best practices, tips, and tools. Make use of them and you will take your gemba game to a whole new level!

Click here to review the first five best practices for going to the gemba.

In this episode we cover the following five best practices:

  1. Take a time-lapse video.
  2. Notice the inventory.
  3. Measure space & count things.
  4. What’s now, what’s next?
  5. Move your office to the production floor.

Download: 10 Best Practices for Going to the Gemba

Get a PDF summary of all ten gemba best practices and use it as a one-page reference tool the next time you visit your production floor. Take your gemba game to the next level and train others to do the same!

#1 Take a time-lapse video of the gemba

Video is a powerful tool, but you must be smart when you use it. It is not a substitute for actually being present in the gemba.

One great use of video is that you can extract exact cycle times from it. This is especially helpful when there are multiple people and/or machines moving at once.

You can also scrub quickly through a longer time-lapse video to observe how a production spaces changes overtime. There can be major changes that occur, especially with the movement of people and inventory.

Just make sure you stage and point the camera correctly if you must walk away, and also review the video soon after recording. That way, you can ask questions of the people and process while it is still fresh.

#2 Notice the Inventory

Inventory is one of the seven wastes of lean. It is smart to observe at the gemba because the amount of inventory can tell you a lot about the overall performance of the value stream (all activities to make the product from start to finish).

Pay attention to inventory in terms of:

  1. quantity
  2. space
  3. time

The presence of inventory may be due to human habitat the direct consequence of the value stream or process design.

#3 Measure Space & Count Things

It doesn’t take much to size up the production floor. Pull out a tape measure or use your smartphone.

When it comes to quantifying things (or people), just start counting!

Ask yourself, “What is necessary to reduce the space consumed at this process?”

Also ask, “What dos the count tell me about this process?”

#4 What’s Now, What’s Next?

It is always preferable for the gemba to be highly visual so that actual conditions are obvious at-a-glance.

A key thing to try to determine visually is the status of the current production schedule. You want to know if the operators and managers can immediately determine:

  • What is being worked on right now?
  • What is being worked on next?

Can you answer these questions just by looking? Or do you have to ask an operator? And does the operator know, or does he or she have to ask someone else?

Schedule status visibility is important for teamwork and effectively managing the gemba.

If it takes effort to find out what the plan is, that may suggest something to you about the ability of the organization to effectively plan and follow through on plans.

#5 Move your office to the production floor

You may have work that can only be done in an office setting or meeting. That’s fine.

But there is likely a lot of other work that you can effectively do while present at the gemba. You may need to take a laptop or desk on wheels. But by being present on the floor you may still notice things while getting your work done.

You might even discover that you can get more work done on the production floor because of the proximity you have to the same people and processes you are “working on” and responsible for.

Learn How to Assess Your Gemba at the Lean Smarts Academy

You can stand in your gemba, but are you seeing everything there is to see? Learn how to see by educating yourself and your team using our resources in the Lean Smarts Academy.