From the Archives of a Common Sensei – Volume 11: Gemba Observation Checklist

In the first 10 volumes of our archive discussions we discussed (with examples) several critical considerations leading up to performing a Gemba walk and observing first-hand where improvements can/should be made. I would strongly encourage those of you who have not yet reviewed the first 10 volumes of this blog to take the time to do so! The first 10 volumes generally help inform the performance needs of your organization prior to diving into trying to use the various Lean tools that are all often pushed and generally premature in their usage. Take the time to gain a clear understanding of where your organization is relative to “world class” in both management and in processes. Once you have accomplished that, you can better analyze and determine where to focus your efforts (it can’t/shouldn’t all be accomplished at one time). I would be negligent if I did not also mention the criticality of gaining the participative support/involvement of the top executive management by using the analytical data compiled from performing the content of the earlier volumes, prior to proceeding!

With the above accomplished, it is time to consider a focused Gemba walk in the area of most concern. In this volume, I have included a document developed in the early 1990’s but remains valid today. Granted, this checklist was developed for primary use in manufacturing but with minor modifications could also apply to a Gemba walk in service organizations as well. All too often, I have heard from clients: “but we are different”! I have yet to find an organization where most of this observation list is unusable for the intended purpose!

Modify it, use it, have fun doing the Gemba walk!


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