Questions managers should ask themselves while walking the Gemba
- Why is this process other than how you visualized it?
- What disrupts the work?
- Where could mistakes be made?
- What keeps those mistakes from being made?
- Is there a mechanism to cue the employee to the correct way or alert them that a mistake has been made?
- Is there any backtracking, rework or looping around?
- Is equipment where it is actually needed?
- Do people have to look around for things?
- How do employees know what they should be doing?
- What is the source of information?
- Do employees have to hunt information down, or guess at what should be done?
- Is there a pace to the work?
- Is there some type of deadline or time standard?
- How does the person know whether things are on time or not?
- When do employees learn they are behind?
- If the person encounters some kind of problem, something unexpected, something needed but not there, what happens?
- Is there a support system to get this person back on-point? Or is he or she left to their own devices to figure it out?
Often it helps to look at one person doing a single task, find a single issue, and follow the work flow upstream until the root cause is found. Mistakes made at the beginning of a process are usually carried forward to the end. Supervisors can get a robust picture of what is really happening by investigating the tasks that occur before the particular process currently being observed.
Once the root cause is identified, leaders must be careful to not simply fix the issue. The Collaborative Coaching model provides a framework in which supervisors and employees develop solutions together.