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58 The PCB Magazine • May 2015 haps the most important: an inherent respect for the people actually doing the work. These are your process experts that have the practi- cal experience and tribal knowledge of the pro- cess. Gemba walks need to be approached from a place of mutual respect and overriding desire to make things better, faster, cheaper, easier, etc. Gemba means going to where the work is being done and engaging the people directly, not as- suming you have solved all the problems from your office. The Gemba walk The gemba walk provides company leaders, managers and supervisors a simple, easy means of supporting overall continuous improvement while directly engaging with the folks respon- sible for the key business processes. The best ap- proach to a gemba walk is to start at the last pro- cess and work upstream. Why? This will high- light how well your process is operating from a high level in terms of pull vs. push, bottlenecks, inventory and other production control issues. Depending on the level of personnel participat- ing and/or circumstances, gemba walks can be daily, weekly or monthly. Another suggestion is to focus on a different aspect (theme) for each gemba walk. For example, one day might focus on 5S in the facility; another may be on WIP inventory, etc. It is important to limit the focus because if you look for everything, you will ac- complish nothing! Instituting regular gemba walks into the cul- ture will consistently demonstrate to employees a leadership commitment, alignment and sup- port of the continuous improvement process. There are a couple of keys to a successful gem- ba walk, such as active and attentive listening, sharing what you learned during the gemba walk with the entire organization, discussing with department leaders conditions observed, and following up/monitoring the process where necessary. what the Gemba walk is Not A gemba walk is not an opportunity to point fingers and find fault in employees while they are being observed. It is not punitive; employ- ees will shut down and not openly engage at the first whiff of this. It is not a time to be the policy police; internal audits or other tools are appro- priate for this. Finally, a gemba walk is not the time to solve; it is a time of observation, input and reflection. That does not mean disregarding operator ideas for improvements, but rather to physically go and see what is really happening. Any ideas or complaints should be noted and followed-up with after the walk. Be mindful not BEST PrACTICES 101, PArT 7 continues Point oF ViEw Figure 1.

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