The Gemba is key. To understand operations, or how the customer uses the product. But how to make a Gemba in operations? From theory to practice, I give you two examples, first in a factory and then in an office. I explain in another article the Gemba for your customers.
Put yourself in a box and observe.
First of all, I remind you of the Gemba principle: observe, to understand what is reallyhappening. It will then be possible to improve the process, flows or product.
To succeed in your Gemba, remember that you have two eyes, two ears and a mouth… So you should talk less than 20 of your time in Gemba. If you are speaking, it is to ask questions and clarify the action or why of the action.
Under no circumstances during a Gemba should you comment, or worse, criticize, what the observed person is doing. On the one hand, you do not have all the information to understand its action, on the other hand, you would lose his confidence and will no longer be able to observe effectively.
Once the midset is clear, let’s go on Gemba, where the action takes place!
Gemba in operations: an example in a factory
Industrial processes can be long, both in time and space. So you’re going to define an area and a portion of the process that you’re going to see. Ideally, limit yourself a few square meters. If you can have a fixed observation post it’s even better.
Start by observing the flow of products: which products are they, what’s the diversity? Where do they come from, what equipment do they pass on, what operations are they undergoing, where are they stored, where do they go next, how often the products arrive, are processed or moved.
Then observe the flow of people: do they follow the product, do they go back and forth, do they leave the observed area, often, for a long time, do they stay still, work on the product, do they check the quality, the equipment. What are their main activities, how do they feel? You can then observe their posture and the ergonomics of the workstation. Imagine the impact on the body of these actions, carried out every day for forty years.
Finally, you can listen to the noises,the machines, the vehicles, the people. What predominates? Is the atmosphere noisy, rhythmic, chaotic, serene. Do you hear noises that seem abnormal to you, where do they come from?
Gemba in operations: an example in an office
As in the industry, processes can be long. So you have to decide which portion you want to observe. Ideally, you will observe only one person. You can sit next to him or her.
Start by looking at the flow of products/customers he or she works on. Is the diversity treated as what you expected, are these unique cases, or things that are repeated? How are tasks assigned? What software is used to process information? Where does the information come from, how often does it arrive, is it processed? How does information flow between different software or screens in the software?
Then observe the employee: what is his state of mind, does he have rest periods between the different requests or clients? How does it adapt to each situation, how does it use the system? Does he use the mouse, keyboard keys, shortcuts? What kind of treatment does he do with the information? Does he use paper, pencil, or other tools outside the system? What mental burden does he have to deal with, how much information does he have to retain in order to work effectively?
Finally, you can, as in the factory, listen to the soundscape and document it.
All you have to do is take a note and go to the field, to improve your knowledge of your own organization!