Please take a few minutes to read my introductory piece on walking the Gemba it may prevent you from making the same mistakes I have seen many managers make during their Gemba walks.  Happy Reading!

Quantum Associates, Inc

Operational Excellence Newsletter 

 Delivering Swift and Significant Results 

Our groove is to help you improve."


May 2017
Walking the Gemba

As a lean practitioner, I have participated in numerous Gemba walks. Gemba walks are planned visits by the management team to the workplace. Typically, they are visits to where value is created. I am always confounded by what management believes are the objectives of a Gemba walk.

All too often, despite management's good intentions, the Gemba walk lapse into old-style management, in which the leaders end up walking around, exercising command and control. Instead of supporting the processes and people, they walk past the same reoccurring problems and flawed processes that are not able to meet their objectives. Instead of learning about the work and finding and fixing problems, they latch onto random minor issues and jump to solutions.

I recall one organization I worked with that had regular Gemba walks - they had developed a formal and disciplined process with involvement from members of the management team in regular attendance. But they regularly walked right past business performance problems without even a short discussion - they were more concerned with looking for mistakes and people issues and completing the Gemba walk routine rather than addressing the barriers that prevented the employees from meeting their daily production goals, which if solved, would have moved the company forward and improved the customer experience.

I try to school leaders in how to conduct Gemba walks by telling them that their primary objective is to help the employee creating value eliminate the barriers that prevent them from getting their job done. Having visual management systems with barrier boards in place is a good start and it helps the management team see the issues and problems they need to address. All you managers who want to be effective Gemba walkers I recommend the following three rules:
  1. Determine the purpose for your walk. It should be one that seeks to learn, discover, develop a greater understanding of the work, and gain consensus amongst the management team about the issues that prevent your people from achieving their goals and being successful.
  2. Develop a plan for your walk. Follow the flow of value down through the value stream or support processes - this way you will eliminate darting between separate processes. This method also makes it easier to hone your observation skills.
  3. Stop focusing on people being busy and efficient. Instead focus on the effectiveness of your processes or value-streams; otherwise you will end up hiding many of your largest improvement opportunities.
Of course, there are many other rules to help you become effective Gemba walkers but starting out with these three should put you on the road to successful Gemba walks.

"A relentless barrage of "why's" is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo. Use it often." ~Shigeo Shingo


Willie L. Carter is the president of Quantum Associates, Inc. He helps management unlock the full promise, energy and speed of their processes. Carter is a Certified Lean Sensei, a Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence, an experienced facilitator, coach, and author of the book, "Process Improvement for Administrative Departments: The Key to Achieving Internal Customer Satisfaction." His company Quantum Associates, Inc helps executives improve their processes to unleash organizational velocity creating a faster enterprise.

In This Issue
Get off the Hamster Wheel and Drive Real Change
10 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement
Achieving a Lean Transformation
How to Accelerate a Lean Transformation
Get off the Hamster Wheel and Drive Real Change
 Contributor: Paul W. Critchley
Nothing is beyond our control, given the proper corporate culture and mentality. It's a matter of how organizations operate and how they challenge their employees to think...( Read More)
10 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement
Contributor: Pierce Ivory
The sad truth is that many employees feel disengaged at work. While there are numerous statistics to support this statement, one thing is certain: If your workers feel engaged, your organization is more likely to grow. Although most employers understand this concept, they often do not know how to improve employee engagement...( Read More)

Achieving a Lean Transformation
Contributor: Steve Hudgik
A lean transformation is more than just eliminating waste. It involves changing a culture. It requires changing your thinking. It means changing your relationships with your customers and suppliers. A lean transformation is a complete transformation of your business, and it is going to be difficult to accomplish...( Read More)
How to Accelerate a Lean Transformation
Contributor: Joe Dager
A lean transformation in your company may be the best way to create the scenario you need for success. You need to instill processes and culture, manage events, and work at warp speed. Lean has a structure that is well-defined - a proven commodity that you can follow in a step-by-step basis. Don't let poor planning be your downfall...( Read More)

Successes in the global business environment are now being achieved using the same Lean tools (used in manufacturing) in all types of industries; healthcare, financial services, construction, armed services, etc. with great success. Regardless of the nature of the business, there are processes that can and need to be standardized, streamlined and made as efficient as possible. Lean provides excellent tools and concepts to eliminate process variation that causes waste.

Call today to learn how we can help you identify and terminate that process waste!

What Clients Say About Us

"Quantum Associates service was excellent. I appreciated the attention to detail and the personal attention provided to the staff. The reporting, diagramming, and overall process was textbook perfect. One of the benefits we experienced was connecting with our customer base via a "Voice of the customer surveys."  This aspect of the mapping forced us to talk directly with our customers and helped us understand their likes / dislikes, and wants / and needs in the first person.  This information has been invaluable.  The voice of the customer survey also allowed us to establish a core group of customers that can be contacted and used to pilot new ideas and strategies." Steve Freeman -
Delivery Services Manager (retired) ~Abbott- Abbott Park, IL
We guarantee 100% customer satisfaction absolutely.
To learn more about how we can put our team to work for you contact us today at 847-919-6127 or email .

Enjoy the Newsletter, 
Willie L. Carter

"Our groove is to help you improve."

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