20 Gemba Rules & Guidelines That Will Make Your Workplace More Productive & Efficient

Posted by on Mar 28, 2021 in Improving Gemba | 0 comments

There is poetry, music, spirit, and rhythm to a well-organized and efficient workplace.  There are a flow and beauty to it that is indescribable.  Work is done efficiently, on-time, and in an orderly fashion.  It’s the kind of thing that you automatically know when you see it.  The question often asked is “How did it get this way?”

In Peter Scholtes’ 1998 book, The Leader’s Handbook, Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done, he discusses twenty rules and guidelines for you to follow and implement at Gemba to make it more productive and efficient.  Even though these rules and guidelines were written 23 years ago, I think they are even more relevant today.

I’ve listed the twenty rules and guidelines and given you some tools and techniques you can use to work towards your goal to accomplish and implement each one.  There’s no rocket science involved, only a good knowledge of the tools and principles, hard work and constant focus.

  1. Give priority to the Gemba. Peter emphasizes that Gemba is the heart of an organization and it must take precedence over everything else.  It must be your number one focus!
  2. Focus on clearing out and cleaning up the Gemba.  Your efforts should concentrate on:
    • Systemically looking at the workflow and eliminating all waste by using a current and future state value stream map
    • Physically cleaning up the workplace by using 5S
  3. Make sure the core resources and especially those with key functions or roles are always doing their Gemba work.  Key resources, whether physical or human should not be idle.  Focus on making core resources work as efficiently as possible.
  4. Study the Gemba processes and core resources.  Strive to have the Gemba people become experts and masters of the Gemba work resulting in the best output for your customers.
  5. Make changes to reduce costs in the Gemba.  Constantly use kaizen to reduce waste, scrap, rework, and reduce, reuse, and recycle materials.  Study ways to use less material, time, space, and personnel that will provide equal or better results for your customers.
  6. Streamline the Gemba and organize the work. Use spaghetti diagrams to understand the amount of worker movement and material transportation and work to reduce them.  Use change-over reduction and single-minute exchange of die (SMED) principles to reduce change-over times.  Incorporate 5S principles to have a place for everything and everything in its place.  Provide space for materials, tools, fixtures, and any required items needed by Gemba workers at the point of use.
  7. Identify and eliminate waste in the Gemba.  Concentrate on the eight-forms of waste, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over Production, Over Processing, Defects, and Skills/Resource Utilization.  Focus on providing a safe work environment for all employees.
  8. Don’t keep the Gemba waiting. Don’t have Gemba workers waiting for material, instructions, machine or equipment malfunctions, or information they may need to do their jobs.  Eliminate bottlenecks and system constraints.  Create flow and pull in Gemba by using kanban and supermarkets.
  9. Don’t interrupt or disrupt the Gemba.  Identify and eliminate any patterns of interruption that disrupt the flow in Gemba.
  10. Error-proof the Gemba; make it more robust.  Use poka-yoke, mistake, and error-proofing techniques to eliminate defects and rework.  Find methods to make the Gemba more forgiving, resilient, flexible, versatile, and user-friendly.
  11. Standardize recurring Gemba tasks when the important factors are controllable.  Use standard work principles to determine the best method that results in a better product or service for customers.  Document and train all Gemba workers.
  12. Address out-of-control factors in the Gemba. Study, identify, and determine the patterns and causes that allow these negative effects to occur and redesign the system or process to eliminate them.
  13. Make changes in the Gemba to increase throughput.  Study and identify ways to improve the capacity of Gemba to do work.  Increase the capacity of the core resources and eliminate any wastes, pauses, bottlenecks, or constraints.  Off-load non-Gemba tasks to non-Gemba personnel allowing Gemba key players to do more critical functions.
  14. Identify the key process indicators of the Gemba and routinely monitor them.  Understand and determine where and what data needs to be taken at Gemba to allow you to determine how effectively it is operating.  Create systems for collecting, recording, and analyzing the data.
  15. Maintain continual education and training for the Gemba. Incorporate multiple modes and means to assure that people learn what’s needed.  Use visual controls wherever possible to remind workers of important items.  Always err on the side of too much education, training, and communication.  Incorporate internal audits to monitor systems and worker knowledge.
  16. Make the Gemba “hum” with communication.  Communicate kaizen events and projects within the group.  Ensure workers understand how any changes will affect them.  Seek and incorporate their ideas to make Gemba more efficient.
  17. Develop in the Gemba the reflexes, habits, and processes for continual Planning, Doing, Studying, and Acting (PDSA).  When things go wrong, learn from your mistakes.  Continually study the key process indicators (KPIs) and the key quality characteristics and attributes of the products and services important to customers.
  18. Attend to the human needs of the Gemba people (and everyone else as well).  Make the Gemba safe and ergonomically sound.
  19. Make the Gemba a fun place to work.  Let Gemba workers lead in this effort.
  20. Assume that “everything is felt in the Gemba.”  As a rule of thumb:  Do nothing without first asking, “How will this have an impact on the Gemba?”  If your response is, “It will have no impact on the Gemba,” then look deeper, because there is something you’ve missed!

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