Gemba, Leadership, Lean and Continuous Improvement

Gemba Walks – Tip #2

When doing a gemba walk, watch that your team is

Not chasing shiny objects!

Shiny objects are great for catching fish, but aren’t necessarily the best for driving continuous improvement.  Sure, it’s always great to catch the big ones, but it is also super fun catching a bunch of little guys!

When you’re doing a leadership gemba watch that your team isn’t only chasing the big improvements, like a completely new layout for example.  It’s the little improvements that add up and make a big difference to the process operator and teach people to see waste and opportunity.  Focusing on the little wastes of reaching, turning, stepping, fumbling or rework, can gain you an easy 10% improvement in productivity.  The best part is that you can truly engage the process operators and they feel the benefits immediately.

Although the big improvements can be nice and sometime necessary, if you don’t address the little things you  may not realize the full potential and not make it any easier for the process operators.  You can end up with an expensive new layout with similar wastes and frustrations as the old layout.  You end up spending a great deal of time and money, for little gain that you likely could have achieved by focusing on the small, but important.

So, when you’re doing a leadership gemba, watch that your team is paying attention to those little things in the process that add wasted time, movement, frustration, or rework and not just chasing the big shiny object.  To do so, you yourself can’t get caught up on the shiny object either.  Step back, observe the process for multiple cycles and see what you can see before setting the hook on that big guy!

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