Gemba

The Different Types Of Gemba

Are there different types of Gemba?  Yes!  The fundamental reasons of Gemba remain the same, but there are at least 5 different types of Gembas each serving a different purpose.  Do you know what they are?

A leader needs to stay connected and engaged with what is going on, or not, as the case maybe, in their areas of responsibility.  In a previous post Toyota’s Worst Best Kept Secret & The Top Five Reasons For It, the top 5 reasons for Gemba were discussed, and even though these reasons more or less stay the same there are at least 5 different types of Gembas.   Gemba is NOT just for manufacturing processes!  Gemba is also a very powerful leadership tool regardless of the type of work, industry, or level of leadership you are in.  Office, logistics, laboratory, health care, customer service, construction, etc, gemba works the same and is just as beneficial as in a manufacturing or factory environment.

Gemba or “Go & See”

Personal Gemba –  A personal gemba is where the leader goes to one or more of their areas of responsibility by themselves.  They may go with a specific topic, concern, waste stream, check, audit, confirmation in mind, or just go and see.  Of course they should engage with their team along the way, but the point is these are unplanned and impromptu conversations and engagements with them.  These gembas are a great way for a leader to observe things without preparations by the team and in areas they otherwise may not be taken.  When visiting a building, I typically conduct a personal gemba first thing by walking the parking lots, lunch rooms, rest rooms, and other nooks and crannies before reviewing the main operations as it gives a leader an overview state of the business, how things are being managed, and the culture within the facility.  Another purpose of a personal gemba is to go and see by yourself before setting a new target or challenge to your team.  By observing for yourself, you will be better able to determine where the team needs to focus, what are challenging but achievable targets, observe abnormalities, or periodic work, or to confirm for yourself, without bias, what the current condition really is.

Leadership Gemba – A leadership gemba is when several members of a senior leadership team conduct a go & see together.  This is powerful because they observe together seeing and hearing the same things.  This is an opportunity for senior leaders to engage with operators through to middle management to provide coaching, mentoring, redirection, provide resources and assistance, and to recognize the teams.  A leadership gemba can be a confirmation walk of the actual conditions, observe problematic processes, see the results of a recent kaizen or continuous improvement project, provide recognition, or to engage with the teams on a specific topic.  Leadership gembas are usually scheduled and the general agenda agreed upon by the levels of leadership.

Daily Gemba – A leader’s core responsibility is to remove barriers and help our teams achieve the organizational goals.  The best way to do that is to demonstrate our actions being louder than words and daily gemba is an excellent tool for this purpose.  Daily gemba is done at the same time each day with all department leaders following a predetermined standard path.  The path may very day by day, but the point is to visit the key areas on a regular frequency.  During the gemba, the teams would provide an update on key metrics and performance from the previous day, recent trends, and identify any current challenges, concern, or barriers which is impeding their performance or attainment of a target.  The leaders can then assist with removing these barriers.  Daily gemba also ensures that everyone knows, understands, and is aligned to the top priorities for that day.  Daily gemba should be short and very focused, targeting 30 minutes and no more than 45.  The challenge is usually to avoid problem solving during gemba.  Daily gemba should also be a key part of Leader Standardized Work.

Impromptu Gemba – An impromptu gemba is used when discussing a specific situation or topic in an area physically removed from the point of discussion, and a spontaneous decision is made to go and see at the actual location or process under discussion.  This is done to assist in and align understanding, to problem solve and determine root cause, discuss counter measures, ask questions of the operators or those involved, or discuss next steps.  Often in meetings it takes a great deal of time for everyone to understand an issue and even after explaining, some may not actually get it.  They think they do, but they really don’t.  By going and seeing, problems can more rapidly be understood, necessary resources and actions agreed upon, and the issue resolved.

Scheduled Gemba -Some disagree with this type of gemba, but I do believe it serves a couple of important purposes.  This type of gemba, is simply scheduled in a calendar like any other meeting.  It can be a reoccurring scheduled event, or a one time occurrence on specific topic scheduled gemba.  In some environments or with some leaders, going and seeing seems to becomes the lowest priority and as a result, doesn’t happen.  Unless that is, they schedule it like any other meeting.  This reduces the likelihood that other meetings will be scheduled over top, or getting caught up in other things and not making it out to gemba.  The one time occurrence gemba is used when there is a need to have several leaders attend.  In these situations, it is important that everyone sees and hears the same thing so scheduling the gemba is usually necessary in most environments to ensure attendance.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Gemba must be priceless!

There are several types or slightly different gembas, beyond the above, but the most essential point is that leaders need to invest quality time at the gemba, or going and seeing.  If a picture is worth a thousands words, Gemba must be priceless, because it allows everyone to see the same thing first hand; the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

 

Gemba, Lean and Continuous Improvement

Toyota’s Worst Best Kept Secret & The Top Five Reasons For It

Toyota’s secret to the long term success of their Toyota Production System (TPS) is actually pretty simple!  It’s not even a secret.  It’s also really straight forward.  It’s captured in a single word.  Know what it is?

During and since working at Toyota, I’ve been asked many times what the secret sauce is that makes Toyota and TPS such a long term success!  It’s absolutely true that TPS is a comprehensive multi-dimensional system or mechanism about which many books have been written explaining it in great detail.  There is no doubt many powerful principles and tools within it.  It is built on the fundamental principles of respect for people and continuous improvement.  My intention is not to diminish the integration or thoroughness of TPS, but my single word response to the secret sauce question is,

GEMBA

I wholeheartedly believe in respect for people and have a huge passion for continuous improvement, and the best way to create, drive and sustain both is by Gemba!

In addition to providing a means to achieving the principles of respect for people and continuous improvement, the top 5 reasons for conducting gemba are revealed in the spelling of the word itself and are:

 

Go See tLetter Ghe actual condition – in similar fashion as the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, seeing is believing!  Gemba allows all participants to see the same thing firsthand.  The good, bad and the ugly!  This is powerful because there is nothing left to someone else’s interpretation and/or communication.  There is no opportunity to hide, exaggerate, or underestimate the conditions or impact through misunderstanding, poor communication, or lack of familiarity of the process.  Gemba also provides alignment of what is happening or not happening.

 

Go and see is so powerful, I once scheduled a meeting with the President of Toyota, on the roof!

Letter EEngagement – Gemba is an incredible way to engage openly between all levels.  Asking questions to understand surfaces issues, barriers, abnormalities, ideas, and potential solutions.  It provides opportunities for operators to voice their opinions and become directly involved in being part of a solution.  Gemba facilitates clarity of leadership direction, and teaching and learning opportunities of all involved.  It is an effective way to follow-up on previous actions and their effectiveness.  Gemba also is a great time for leaders to challenge, encourage, motivate, and of course recognize the efforts and results of their teams.

 

 

Letter MMan, Machine, Material, Method (4Ms) – Gemba allows teams to focus their attention on the 4Ms to identify barriers and wastes impacting the operation or process.  The focus of a Gemba could focus on all the 4Ms, several, or a specific one depending on the desired intent or the situation.   The focus on the 4Ms helps train and develop the team on waste identification and is the engine of continuous improvement.

 

 

Letter BBarriers – Another reason for gemba is to identify barriers either creating a form of waste in the process, or impacting the completion or desired impact of identified actions and solutions.  This is very important in order to first identify necessary actions for improvement, and then when reviewing previous actions to demonstrate support to the team, speed up progress, and keep the team motivated by reducing frustration.

 

 

Letter AAction– Gemba must result in some kind of action.  To me this is not only a must, I believe it is unavoidable.   When everyone sees the same things creating impact, questions are inevitable, followed by the generation of ideas to resolve the issues. This occurs by default.  Prioritization and elimination of the identified actions need to happen next.  Once the immediate actions are determined and agreed upon, ownership and completion dates are imperative.  Timely follow-up of all actions is very important to drive urgency, identify barriers and where help or clarification is needed, and provide additional opportunities for all aspects of engagement.

 

So not only are the reasons for Gemba hidden in plain sight of the letters of the word, the reasons for Gemba also propagate the entire philosophy of continuous improvement by naturally creating a never ending cycle of Gemba.

Are all Gembas the same?  “Follow” my website, to receive the next post, “The Different Types of Gemba”.

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

 

* Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

 

Problem Solving

A Big Problem With Problem Solving

Far too often, there is a big problem with our team’s problem solving.  This problem not only results in ineffective countermeasures and re-occurrence of the problem, but can also break the trust between the leaders and the team or operators.

When problem solving or reviewing a root cause analysis with your team, if the root cause is determined to be the operator(s) not following standard work, your “spidey senses” should be going off!  Seldom is not following standard work the root cause, but rather it should be the starting point of an in-depth analysis.  Unfortunately, it is far too common for leaders to determine that the root cause of a safety, quality or productivity issue is a result of not following standard work and they place “blame” upon the operator(s) for not doing so.  It is common, that when a process has been in control and then suddenly there is an issue, it is likely a standardized work issue, but even if so, that is not the root cause.  Of course, any one of the 6Ms; Man, Method, Material, Machine, Mother Nature, or Measure could also be an issue.  However, if it is a standard work violation, it is super critical to determine the root cause as to why the operator did not follow the standard work.  If they are fully trained operators and/or are aware of the standard work, there will be a reason why they missed or stopped following it.  Our job as leaders is to find out why.  When we do, what we find is usually a golden nugget!

I fundamentally believe that operators do not wake up in the morning thinking of how they will not follow standard work that day.  They just do not!  Therefore, if they do not follow standard work, there is a VERY good reason for it!  They either cannot follow the standard work due to an issue with one of the other 5Ms, think they have determined a more efficient way of performing their task, or were distracted or interrupted, to name a few.  In any case, we need to determine why they did not follow the standard work so that we can address the root cause.  Often when the root cause is determined to be the operator not following standard work, the counter measures are poor and obviously will not solve the problem, and improvements, if made at all, are not sustainable. The number one countermeasure I have seen in these cases are to “re-train” the operators or issue a communication to “remind them of the importance to follow standard work”.  These type of counter measures rarely, if ever, address the root cause, upset the operators and break trust because they know the leaders are not listening or investigating deeply enough, and actions are not sustainable.  The issue will pop up its ugly head again; it is just a matter of time.  Sometimes, the cause of not following the standard work can even be a hidden cultural issue within your organization.

Over the years, I have experienced many times where my team has determined the root cause of an issue as a standard work violation.  After some coaching and a request to start the root cause analysis at why the operator was not following standard work, the teams made some amazing findings.  Sometimes they found there were parts and materials out of specification within a specific lot, stacking of tolerance issues, and interruptions in their standard work by other processes, line downtime, periodic work, etc.   In all cases though, there was a very good explanation as to why the operator missed or did not follow the standard work.  Sometimes, to determine the root cause, a great deal of digging was required, and that root cause found was not pretty!

One of the most memorable experiences and examples for me was when we had a significant quality issue on a customer’s car on their initial drive home from the dealership.  The process of concern had automated equipment with multiple pokeyokes designed to prevent process completion unless critical to quality aspects and been performed and verified.  Trials conducted on the equipment confirming functionality that the equipment was working as designed and expected were completed.  The initial conclusion as to root cause was that the operators were not following standard work and on occasion when the equipment faulted, would by-pass the automation and pokeyokes.  Engineers made improvements in fault detection, tractability, and installed additional pokeyokes on the equipment to remove all potential of manually over-riding the process.  We retrained Operators and reminded them about the importance to follow standard work.  Then there was a second occurrence after the implementation of all the described countermeasures!  How was that possible!!!  To make a long story short, line leaders, not operators, were determined to be by-passing the process altogether and had implemented an off-line uncontrolled process in the event that the main line went down.  They were doing this because they wanted to keep the line going to prevent downtime and loss of productivity.  Although they had the best of intentions, this was the wrong thing to do.  However, it was not their fault.  I, and the senior leaders, had given these line leaders the perception that productivity was more important than quality.  The culture that we had allowed to become ingrained defied everything that we had attempted to create and thought we had created.  We had a significant cultural issue; this was not a standard work issue at all.  Not following standard work was an issue, but it was just a symptom of an altogether much different and bigger issue.

Another example of where a team felt that root cause was operators not following known standards was because the operators were relatively new and inexperienced in their process.  The corrective actions were to retrain and to conduct periodic audits to catch the operators not following standard work and then to remind them to do so.  Your spider senses should be going crazy!  We requested the team to dig deeper and coached them on the importance of starting with why the operators were not following standard work.  What they found was enlightening!  Important dimensions of key materials used in the process had changed over time; however, adjustments to the equipment used in the process to accommodate the changes in the materials were not completed.  In addition, they identified an impactful non-standard layout issue by talking with the operators through seeking to understand why they were not following the standard work.

So develop and hone your “spidey senses” to be on alert to standard work violations identified as the root cause of an issue.  Coach your teams to start there and dig deep to understand why an operator would not follow the standard work.  An obvious, but also often overlooked step, ask the operator why they missed or did not follow standard work.  Do not accept the “I don’t know” or “I forgot” answers.  Worse, do not assume they negligently chose not to follow the standard work.  I guarantee there is more to it.  If you get these types of answers, it is imperative to coach the operator on the importance of understanding what is preventing or resulting in them not following standard work, as it is key to addressing a problem they are clearly experiencing.

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Lean and Continuous Improvement

Are Invisible Signs Hurting Your Team’s Culture?

Signs are an important visual control and many serve meaningful purposes.  But, have you ever seen an invisible sign?  I’d be willing to bet you have!  You may have even made an invisible sign yourself at some point.  So how do you create an invisible sign?

Don't sit on fence

You can see invisible signs everywhere!   They can be found in parking lots, airports, workplaces, and pretty much any public place.  They are incredibly easy to make.  Below are two of the generally industry accepted ways to make an invisible sign.

  • Create a sign following some kind of incident to state the obvious with the intention the sign will prevent re-occurrence.
  • Create a sign that treats adults like children.

Caution-Toaster-Is-Hot_thumbInvisible signs are a clear warning that something is wrong and you need to look deeper.  In the first example, these type of invisible signs may indicate that root cause has not been determined.  Installing an all too obvious sign can be a ‘sign’ that action for the sake of saying action has been taken is at play.  Unfortunately, often this is done following a safety incident.  Those doing the investigation don’t know what else to do.  It was a “freak” incident, or the person wasn’t following the safety rules or paying attention.  However, what this invisible type of sign is saying is that root cause has likely not been determined and further analysis is required.

The second type of invisible sign is equally concerning and likely points to a culture

Flush after use.jpg
2 Automatic-flush Urinals with 3 signs – “Please Flush After Use”

and/or leadership issue.  No adult likes to be treated like a child, yet we see it far too often.  No doubt, sometimes in the workplace things arise that makes you wonder, but you need to ask yourself, which came first?  Were the employees acting like children first, or were they treated like children first?  This type of invisible sign shows that there is likely a cultural issue going on.  Typically along with that is a leadership issue as well.  I say there is likely both because the nature of these invisible signs actually points to a less than desirable culture.  The leadership, in an attempt to curtail undesirable behaviours, put up signs rather than recognize and address the deeper rooted cultural concerns.  This then spirals, creating an environment where leadership treats the employees as children.  Of course this can happen the opposite way, where leadership starts by treating the employees as children which creates an undesirable culture.  Either way, the posted signs serve no other purpose but to drive this poor culture creating a respect issue between the leaders and employees.

Watch for these invisible signs.  Once you train your eyes to see them you will be shocked how many there are, where they are, but being able to see these invisible signs you’ll know what to really look for!

Here’s my favorite…. this was not staged!

Conserve paper sign

 

Other Related Posts:

Who the heck needs standards?

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

Gemba, Lean and Continuous Improvement

See More Going Backwards!

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, we can see more by going backwards!  Our natural instinct is to start at the beginning and move forward towards the end.  This makes sense as time and our lives move forwards, but if you truly want to see, try going backwards starting at the end.

I suppose this advice could be applicable to evaluating your life too!  You know starting at the end and envisioning your final moments and then working backwards from there to the present, and using this visioning to make changes in your life today.  But that’s not my field.  I’m talking about process reviews and gemba.  Sorry!

When reviewing an entire process or supply chain, it’s very important to start the review from the end and work backwards.  This maybe the end of final test, the end of the manufacturing line, or the loading dock.  Sometimes, right from the customer.  The reason for this is to be able to understand the upstream processes from the downstream “customer” perspective.  By walking the process backwards, you will learn and understand the critical or key points required for the downstream process and be more attuned to look for the success attributes and negative impacts when you get to the upstream process.  You can compare the expected condition to that of the actual condition to identify potential issues and then be prepared to look for and identify potential causes of these abnormalities when you move to the upstream process.

Process vs gemba flow

Walking a process backwards can be very enlightening and usually opens your eyes to many improvement opportunities.  These findings can be of safety, quality, productivity or cost in some manner or another.  The reverse perspective is eye opening!

I recall working with a leader that was trying to improve the cycle time of a process.  After a period of time and several process improvements, although they had improved the cycle time, there remained significant variation in the results and on occasion the cycle time was not achieved.  They found that the main part of the process was being completed within the cycle time.  So during their investigation, they skipped this part of the process as it was obviously working well.  The problem was that the carts containing the completed product were being misplaced.  Time searching for the carts in the next process step resulted in the overall cycle time sometimes not be achieved.  Efforts had then been put towards making the carts more easily recognizable from other process carts and improving the visibility of them.  So together we walked the process in reverse.

Walking the process backwards, we asked the operator in the downstream process where they obtain the carts from the upstream process.  They were fully aware of where it was and gladly took us there.   So far so good!   As we walked to the location, they advised us that the carts are rarely found there.  When we asked why, they said it was because the other operators would drop the carts closer to the lunch room out of convenience when going for break.  So typically they would just go there and start looking for the carts.  When we arrived at the designated location, it became a little more clear what was going on.  The 5S was horrible.  The lines to indicate where the carts should be parked were worn out and worse, the bar codes to which the operator was to scan the carts into were worn out as well.  Other carts and equipment that were not supposed to be located there were taking up space designated for these sub-assembly carts.

We then spoke to one of the downstream operators and asked them how they scan the carts into the designated locations when the bar codes were damaged.  They showed us the small bar code cards they had made up and carried with them!  Problem solved!  What this meant is they could very easily scan the bar code at any location regardless of  where the cart was physically.  Of course this wasn’t the intent, but…  that’s what happened.  Further questioning of the operator indicated that they really didn’t have a good understanding of what the bar code was for and that the location of the cart was critical to their downstream internal customer.  Most operators have the best of intentions, so because the space was occupied with “other stuff”, the operators thought it was a good idea to scan their portable bar code cards and drop the carts at another similar process where carts were placed.  It was coincidence that this was close to the path to the lunch room.

Sure, these issues could have been identified by walking with the process flow, however, with the walking backwards perspective, your questions are different and the answers come from the downstream customer who views things from a different perspective than the operator in the previous process.  This allows you to determine the key points and success factors much faster and more efficiently.  Using the example above, for sure the poor 5S and worn out bar codes would have been found walking with the process.  However, it is very possible that the issue would not have been resolved because we may not have determined that the operators had the portable bar code cards, or learned that they really didn’t understand the intent and criticality of scanning and placing the carts in the designated location, and may also have assumed it was poor operator behaviour of dropping the carts on their way to lunch.  A lot of time and frustration could have easily resulted and the root cause not determined.

If you don’t already walk the process backwards, try it next time and leave a comment as to whether you found it beneficial.

Other Related Posts:

10 Important Steps of Effective Gemba Walks or “Go See”

Gemba Walks – Tip #1

Gemba Walks – Tip #2

4 Necessities for Smooth Flow

Teaching your eyes to see

 

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com