From the Archives of a Common Sensei volume 32: WALK-ABOUTS – Plant Staff Goes to the Gemba

“Walk Abouts” do not have to be difficult nor time consuming! In this volume, we emphasize three key considerations of your “walk abouts”:

If the first bullet is not present in your organization, start there! This element is essential for continued success! At various clients, a technique we used to help establish the commitment of management was to have the responsible individuals take a Walk-About with us so they could explain what they were seeing. We would then explain what we were seeing and document that in a list of action items (as in the example included here). We would use any key measurables that existed within the Walk-About area (cell).

Walk About points #2 and #3 above often go together. In some cases, standards may not be established yet, or they need refinement. In this article, we discuss point #3 prior to point #2. This is assuming that the Walk About actions will include the checking for the need for standards or improvements to enable standards attainment. As we performed the Walk-About, we would discuss any points of improvement with the leadership (Manager/Supervision) and the person(s) performing the work, plus we would record those points to improve, action required, responsibility for action, short term and long-term actions, and incremental progress (see LIST OF ACTION ITEMS form).

To establish a more finite capture of variation to standards (expectations), you might find it useful to use a form like the Weekly Team Leader Critical Wastes and Gaps form. This form (included below) will help you capture the issue, when it occurred and monthly total, plus any comments you feel are important to capture. The form is also structured to help you capture and record any short-term actions that have been taken, who took the action, and consequences/results. The purpose of this template is to help first line supervision and associates in their efforts to focus on issues which exhibit the greatest wastes and therefore could generate the greatest return (value) in the quest for highest quality, customer satisfaction, and reduction of cost.

Give these methods a try in your organization and be sure to be inclusive when discussing improvement opportunities and improvements. I am sure you will experience significant value creation regardless of what type of organization you are in.

For More Information or help with your transformation effort, contact us at



In continuation of these blog postings (From the Archives of a Common Sensei), volume 25 discusses how we approached Problem Solving during those early days (early 1990’s) while developing Toyota Industrial Equipment. The documents included here are pre-computerization and clearly demonstrate we didn’t need everything computerized – especially problem solving!  The attached documents are in their rough condition but, are actual examples of a systematic method used for problem resolution, particularly in the following areas:

On the document entitled Procedure for Problem Solving, we have provided the procedural flow guideline for problem solving, especially for Managers and other Leaders (of course in conjunction with all those affected).  On the slide marked Problem Solving Activity, we provide a look at the process used to evaluate and resolve problems and advance opportunities.

Additional documents included provide examples of the Kaizen Activity Report (before and after changes), the Kaizen Report Format, The Bi-Weekly Report of Activity, and the Implementation Schedule for Policy Management.  The Implementation Schedule for Policy Management is used to track the various tasks against established policies of Cost, Quality, Delivery, Safety, and Morale. Additionally, it keeps track of the method, target dates, person/in charge, and lays it out in a schedule for tracking simplification.

The documents in this volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei we feel it is essential to stress that although the documents included here are not the prettiest, they are valued examples that can show you the basics of value-added problem solving (resolution).  Standardized use of these documents (or similar) will aid in the development of a true problem solving (love those opportunities) culture.  As your organization matures, it will become stronger because of standardized problem solving as described here.

For More Information or help with your transformation effort, contact us at