Gemba is a Japanese term meaning ‘the real place’ - in our context, the ‘real place’ is where the work is done. One of the keys to kaizen is "go to where the work is".
At Toyota, Gemba walks look like managers getting up from behind their desks and walking along the factory floor.
In our remote environment, it means observing what your team members are doing by looking at their screenshots, applications, and focus data.
WorkSmart has a dedicated tool to allow you to quickly view a team members screens for a day.
Doing Gemba walks means that you are regularly setting aside time on a daily and weekly basis to use this tool, taking actions based on your insights and making comments on screenshots.
The reason we believe in Gemba walks is because they provide an incredible amount of understanding of what your team members are doing. Really understanding what all the team members are doing is CRITICAL.
Even though you may think it’s weird, you need to spend the time because Gemba Walks have the answers. Gemba walks are so important that without them, you are "managing blind".
Experienced managers should rely on Gemba walks as a consistent practice and new managers should spend 1 hour/day in Gemba walks.
Since every team needs to improve quality, you should do your Gemba walks through a quality lens. Look for and highlight team members checking their work against the quality bar.
Look for specific units being worked on that are below quality. Look for unique things top performers are doing to ensure high quality. Look for common mistakes low performers make that hurt quality
If you are managing one of the rare teams whose quality is high, here are other options that can guide your Gemba walks:
- Calendar Adherence: Worksmart indicates this team member is not adhering to the calendar, what are they doing instead?
- Low hanging fruit: Tool usage - use the appropriate tools that the best performers use
- Low hanging fruit: Focus - avoid task switching from work to email/skype. Stay on task
- Low hanging fruit: Intensity - observe this person’s intensity score against top performers
- Low hanging fruit: nonwork activities or distractions (facebook, email, chat, etc)
- You can enlarge the image by clicking it which will open it in a new window
- If an IC has multiple monitors, you will see them side by side
Average managers use Gemba walks to pound their ICs over small infractions but elite managers use Gemba walks to generate deep insights that help ICs accomplish more.
You want your ICs to be hungry for your insights and coaching from Gemba walks, not dread them. Reserve some of your comments for questions - when you notice something that doesn’t seem right, ask your IC to explain why.
Note: the Gemba walk app doesn’t allow ICs to reply to the comments you make. The next Daily CiC can be used for following up with ICs.