What is a Gemba Walk Checklist?
Gemba Walk checklist is a list of validation points that each team leader must validate with the work units of their department while they execute a Gemba Walk.
The checklist consists of questions used to validate pre-established standards and identify discrepancies between them.
These checklists must aim to proactively identify issues before they impact production (quality – health & safety – productivity). The checklist will also help generate improvement opportunities.
Why Are Standardized Gemba Checklists Important?
Without a standardized checklist
Gemba walks that aren’t standardized can bring up issues or improvement ideas that are based on the first problems a manager encounters. Spontaneous Gemba Walks and other unplanned methods can differ based on who performs them, which limits the level of control. A senior and experienced manager will not act as a new manager will do.
With a standardized checklist
With a standardized checklist, workers are ready to answer questions. Also, lists standardize the operational control within all supervisors and managers, from one department, one shift and one factory to another. Thus, new supervisors and managers who join the team will be trained faster, as they simply follow the standard checklist to supervise their team.
Standard gemba walks ensure frontline workers steady support throughout the day. If a frontline worker encounters a potential issue, he will not spontaneously ask for help. On the opposite, he will wait for his supervisor to come by his workstation because he knows he will address this issue during his next Gemba Walk with the standardized questions.
Tervene Recommends Questions to Be Known by Frontline Workers and Team Leaders
A Gemba Walk is not a test or an evaluation of workers. It is rather a method that focuses on the worker’s availability, planning of jobs, materials, equipment and information. That is why the validation points should be known by frontline workers and team leaders.
Workers should know that their supervisors perform these Gemba Walks to help them find solutions and not to punish them. When this is understood, it facilitates adherence to the practice.
What Should Managers Validate?
The manager should validate elements (pre-established standards) that impact the key indicators of the organization’s strategic objectives.
The goal is to proactively identify potential issues as well as discordances from the set standard. Most frequently, the subject of the questions will concern workers, information, materials or equipment.
You can identify problems in different time frames:
- Issues that occurred in the past: to help generate new questions in the checklist to prevent these problems from happening again.
- Issues that are currently happening: to help take action, solve the identified problems, assign a task or share information to the right stakeholder.
- Problems that might happen in the future: to help prevent them from happening and create proactive measures.
Questions vary according to the desired focus:
- Time frames: Past – Present – Future
- Categories: Requirements – Productivity – Quality
- Subjects: Workers – Information – Materials – Equipment
For example, a 5S system at a workstation is an established standard. The managers could validate if the 5S is respected. It concerns the present time frame and concerns requirements for equipment.
It is important to mention that Gemba checklists should contain validation points in accordance with the role of the person executing it. That way, it ensures a systematic presence of all levels of management on the floor.
How to Choose the Best Questions?
You must first think about the type of discrepancies from the standard that you want to identify. After this exercise, you can determine the questions that will bring out these problems, wastes and non-conformities. For a potential issue raised to be relevant, it needs to be actionable (on which you can take action).
Questions → Identify discrepancies from standards → Impact on indicators
Be sure that:
- Questions are solution-oriented, rather than focused on trying to find who’s at fault.
- Questions identify relevant potential issues and discrepancies from the standard.
- Potential issues have an impact on indicators to which the organization focuses.
Examples of Gemba Walks Questions
- Have there been any problems related to quality in the past two hours that we didn’t see coming?
- Is the worker at his workstation?
- Is the 5S respected?
- Does the production rate follow the schedule?
- Does the worker know the next priority?
- Does the worker have all the required supplies for the next job?
- Does the employee have all the required tools for the next job?
- Does the employee have the proper training for the next job?
- Are there any issues to transfer?
- Is the equipment working properly? Does it need maintenance?
- Does the department need more people for the next job?
How Many Questions Should Supervisors Go Through?
The number of questions on the checklist shouldn’t matter, as long as the Gemba Walk takes under 15-20 minutes to perform. If there are too many questions in the checklist, team leaders won’t be able to identify more problems, but will rather let some of them slip through. Tervene recommends to keep them short, but effective.
Also, go through follow-up questions with the workers that identified a problem: ask what, why and how. It is better to ask fewer general questions but go deeper in your understanding.
How to Implement a Gemba Walk Structure
Download our Gemba Walk eBook to access checklists, templates and detailed strategies to implement a Gemba Walk Structure.
- Put the company’s organizational chart up to date
- Present the Gemba Walk through an introduction meeting
- Set-up Gemba Walk checklists
- Set a standard recurring schedule
- Shadow every team leader’s Gemba Walk, individually
- Schedule improvement meetings
- Sustain the Gemba
Tervene’s Gemba Walk App
Within the Tervene mobile Gemba Walk solution, organizations build standard Gemba walk checklists designed to improve operational control.
Related Resources about Gemba Walks
Blog post: Essential Features of a Gemba Walk App
Blog post: Who Should Perform Systematic Gemba Walks?
Blog post: How to Measure the Quality of Gemba Walks?