Gemba walk!


Gemba walk! What is it?

The term Gemba walk is derived from Japanese and means “real city” or “crime scene”. At Lean, “gemba” is the most important place for a team, as it is a place where added value is created.

It is a very important part of the lean management philosophy. The purpose is to enable managers and managers to observe the actual work process, work with employees, gain knowledge about the work process and find opportunities for continuous improvement.

The operator is best aware of all the problems that arise in the work process and is an excellent source of information.

Before you start a tour, you need to have a plan that depends on your long-term and specific goals. You can use a checklist of questions to help you clarify the process (What are you currently doing? Is there a procedure for this work? Do you have any problems with the process? Which ones? How can we fix them?…). A detour may also be unplanned, for example, when you go from one part of a factory to another and notice a problem, but there is a chance that such a detour will be ineffective. The walkthrough is meant to improve processes, not people, so ask as many questions as possible related to the work process (who, what, where, when, why).

After the tour, it is necessary to analyze the obtained data, information. We recommend that you do this with the management team, you can even invite the operator you spoke to. Use all the data you have collected as part of your continuous improvement process, also known as the Gemba Kaizen Circle. Perform gemba rounds regularly, say once a week in each department. Take about 45 minutes for each tour, preferably inform the people involved in advance.

The main purpose is to have as many different points of view as possible in order to make the best decision. A decision that can bring improvement.

A well-executed Gemba tour is also an opportunity to show respect to the people you have observed. This way, each subsequent Gemba tour will be even more successful.
In summary, regular patrols can bring some important benefits, such as: building stable relationships, identifying problems more quickly and taking action, communicating goals clearly…

Example: for rock bands Gemba walk is a recording studio, for Formula 1 teams it is “gemba”, a car (formula), for manufacturers it is production. In other words, Gemba is where real work / value creation happens, so you can observe and analyze it.


Use Gemba walk methods

  • Obtaining valuable information for decision making
  • Allows to strengthen the ties between those involved (by hierarchy)
  • It encourages cooperation and communication
  • Improves employee morale (lower levels know that higher levels care about them)
  • Increases error detection and innovation
  • It helps to improve processes
  • Increases savings (time, material, money…) and streamlines business
  • Increases opportunities to identify opportunities and improve processes
  • Improves safety and quality
  • They promote a culture of continuous improvement
  • Very little resistance to change
  • Employees think about improvements while working


Some information about the Gemba walk method

  • The Gemba walk concept was developed Taiichi Ohno , often considered the father of Just-in-time production.
  • By developing such a concept, Ohno offers managers the opportunity to abandon their daily routine and see where work is “really” done and to build relationships with employees based on mutual trust.


There are 3 important elements to this slim tool:

  • Go and see. (Go & See). The main idea of Gemba Walk is that company management and managers at all levels take regular walks after production and participate in the search for loss-making activities.
  • Ask a question. The main goal of the Gemba walkthrough is to investigate the flow of value in detail and to find its problematic parts through active communication. A good leader always likes to listen and not talk. Here you can use different techniques, such as 5x why, to identify problematic parts of the process.
  • Respect people. Note that the Gemba detour is not a “boss detour”. Pointing fingers and bending people is exactly what you don’t have to do. You are not there to judge and verify the results. You are there to work with the team and find problems together. Focus on finding the weak points of the process, not the weak points of the people.
Gemba detour
Gemba walk