What is Gemba Walk and How to Do It – 9 Tips and Rules.

How to Gemba Walk is explained in this video.

9 Tips and Rules to run an effective Gemba Walk.

Discover the video now.

Gemba Walk Meaning

What is Gemba?

According to the Lean Glossary, I love the most,
Gemba means: actual spot, scene of the crime, shopfloor

Gemba is where the real action occurs, this is the place where
the numbers you see in the powerpoint and in the conference rooms are created.


if you want to do the numbers you have to take care of the Gemba.

You cannot stay at the Gemba virtually, you have to stay at the shop floor by walking into
the real action.

This is the reason why the term Gemba Walk was born.

In conclusion,

the Gemba Walk is a standardized method to visit the shop floor with the intent
of grasping the situation, highlight the 7 wastes and create an action plan to improve the performance.

Sometimes you can find Genba rather than Gemba.

Gemba Walk is the expression that is used when people visit
the shopfloor to see and discover the 7 Wastes.

The book I suggest

The book that tells you the true stories about walking the Gemba is written
by Jhon Shook and is named Gemba Walks.

Why Gemba Walk – Crucial to Success

Many years ago I created a funny strip that explained why the Gemba walk is so important
for the survival of a company.

Gemba Walk


in the 14 principles of the Toyota Way is clear the message that most of the activities
has to be done on the shop floor.

Here there are the 14 Principles and at the n° 12 you will find clearly what I said

14 Principles of The Toyota Way

Principle #1 – “Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

Principle #2 – “Create a continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.”

Principle #3 – “Use ‘pull’ systems to avoid overproduction.”

Principle #4 – “Level out the workload (work like the tortoise, not the hare).”

Principle #5 – “Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.”

Principle #6 – “Standardized tasks and processes are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.”

Principle #7 – “Use visual controls so no problems are hidden.”

Principle #8 – “Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and process.”

Principle #9 – “Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.”

Principle #10 – “Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.”

Principle #11 – “Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.”

Principle #12 – “Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.”

Principle #13 – “Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.”

Principle #14 – “Become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement.”

Gemba Walk Process – Is not a simple shop tour

Pay attention here.

This process has to be done by going to Gemba in a structured and standardized way.

There are some tips to go to see in an effective way.

1) Gemba is not an audit; it is a teamwork

2) A manager must be a coach-mentor for his team

3) Focus Gemba Walk on a particular area where you have KPI gaps

4) Define before > target, agenda and preparation checklist with all participants

5) Duration must be min 30 minutes – max 60 minutes

6) One Gemba walk audit * week in each department

7) Start Gemba walk checking the status from previous priorities and finish with new priorities

8) Max 6 priorities ( 3 * department , 2 * support department, 1 * top management)

9) At the end of Gemba Walk, the team must discuss what learning point is.

Gemba Walk Questions – Prepare a standard

To be very effective, consistent and coach others on the Lean Journey
there is a best practice to follow:

1) Prepare a set of questions before starting the Gemba Walk

2) Go at the Gemba with the prepared set of questions and take notes.

Here there are a set of questions you could inspire:


  • Who are the people involved in the process?
  • Who communicates the customer demand to the process?
  • Who brings the raw material to the process?


  • What are the inputs (Materials and Information) of the process?
  • What causes the process not to reach the target?
  • What are the main obstacles?
  • What is working?
  • What is not working?


  • Where the raw material, the inventory, the finished goods are located?
  • Where are the tools located?
  • Where the defective materials are located?


  • When the materials are transported from the upstream process?
  • When the materials are transported to the downstream process?


  • Why do you need to walk around to find objects?
  • Why the set-up takes 3 hours?

From my experience, it is crucial to be consistent with the set of questions to
coach teams to the waste reduction, standardization, and Kaizen Culture.

Safety Gemba Walk and Waste Gemba Walk

Some time can be fruitful to have more focalized observation when you walk the floor.

You can decide to have a set of question focused on a particular topic:

Safety –> Safety Walk

7 Wastes –> Wastes Walk

Quality –> Quality Walk


Gemba Walk Checklist

It should be clear now that you have to be really prepared to carry out a Gemba Walk.

Here I prepared a checklist to be sure you will not miss any important step.


1) Prepare a Team for the walk

2) Set a focused scope for the walk (what we want to learn or get?)

3) Prepare a set of questions with the team

4) Schedule the activity and communicate to the shop floor (Go See, Ask Why, Show Respect)

5) Follow the process by asking questions (Focus on Process, do not blame)

6) Take notes, photos, and videos (if you can)

7) Set a meeting to discuss what the team saw (An action plan is mandatory)

8) Communicate and follow up on the action plan to the Value Stream Manager.

You can download the checklist here:

Gemba Walk Template

When you are on the shop floor you should have a template that will help you to be consistent in every process of the value stream.

Hewe already spoke about the standardized set of questions and I would like you to download and print this template for the “7 Wastes Walk”

Here there is the template filled with an example.