Gemba STP


Gemba walks, what is gemba, how to gemba walkWhen Lean Practitioners refer to Gemba Walks they like to use the phrase “Go and See.” I like to use “Go and Support, Teach, and Promote,” it is more encompassing. Establishing this as a common axiom will better reflect what is expected when leaders go to the Gemba. Lean Teams USA labeled this approach, Gemba STP.

Leaders of organizations have some key responsibilities in the development of people, motivation, deployment of strategy, and most of all creating a work environment that attracts people to contribute while actually enjoying work. Gemba STP is the key tool in implementing and sustaining this environment. When leaders engage in the Gemba they will routinely find themselves Supporting, Teaching, or Promoting.

Well planned and executed Gemba walks can ensure these responsibilities are effectively met along with an increase in trust when people experience a genuine effort. Executed with respect for people through Support, Teaching, and Promoting, managers soon realize the benefits of supportive leadership.

There are three unassertive practices that can be skillfully applied during the execution of the Leaders Gemba Walk. They are Support, Teach, and Promote (STP for easy remembering). All three methods might be required during a single Gemba Walk or only one, go with purpose. I will provide a short explanation of each practice:

Support

In the Gemba this practice is probably used the most. The people working in “The Real Place,” require support many times a day and without it poor decisions made. How many people developed to the extent of being able to achieve the targets set out for them? Providing support is really the spirit of coaching, an essential skill of today’s leaders. Showing support during daily challenges builds the needed trust to go forward with ideas and expected behavior. People gain the needed confidence to use process information for formulating ideas, looking to leaders who are there in the Gemba supporting these innovative efforts. The process of support creates an environment of idea generation through information exchange. The worker will have one perspective and the leader another, this exchange significantly increases the generation of an idea or solution, of a current problem, and can come from either participant. Support can also be simply removing roadblocks and providing necessary resources, but in real time.

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re 1000 miles away from a cornfield.” – Dwight Eisenhower

Teach

Teaching may actually be the most significant thing that is happening on many Gemba Walks. Leaders actions, what they say, who they talk to are influencing peoples way of thinking. The Gemba simplifies teaching.

The key is in developing people with problem solving skills aligned with strategy. Leaders have the responsibility to create a learning environment. They must be aware of their actions, comments, and even how they recognize expected behaviors, because people will want to adopt their bosses way of doing things. As people learn problem solving, resources to solve problems increase at the source where root causes are fresh, it is why leaders must be able to teach a common scientific problem solving method. Anytime you recognize someone does not understand something that is task improvement related like a, program, policy, safety procedure, quality control, key points of the strategy, Lean Sigma tool, etc., you must become a teacher. Being able to teach is another essential skill of todays leaders. People will always look up to people they learn from and always feel comfortable following a competent teacher. Teaching in the Gemba is also the most effective people development program. This is especially true for Supervisors in the value stream, teaching is a key skill and must be used daily during operations management while in the Gemba. New knowledge is transferred by being able to teach and new knowledge fuels innovation. Teaching and thus Learning is facilitated in the Gemba. It is in the Gemba where the teacher and the learner are able to use all five senses, seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and in some cases tasting. These senses cannot be replicated in a mostly sterile training room.

Promote

Promotion is mainly about knowledge sharing, sharing current strategy, understanding how people, processes, and organization are enabled to meet customer value, and promoting the importance of operational competencies. During Gemba walks all levels of leaders must be promoting the value of knowledge sharing. There are many benefits; a) the mass of employees gain a sense of contribution to business success b) best practices developed in one part of the organization are accepted in another part c) New information is not lost or overlooked because people can translate it to knowledge that can be shared d) Knowledge is about knowing both the why and the how, and when you have both you can continuously improve current standards. e) Accelerates the process of moving to the next target, continuously improving business processes. TWI-JI is a very successful training program because it is structured with the how and the why. Learning happens in context and leaders must create a learning environment. Promotion as a leader is also about being a model. Their actions and words must always reflect the intended and needed strategy promotions.

As a Leader it is your responsibility to first commit to an aligned purpose before going to the Gemba, it is your responsibility to go daily, and practice Gemba STP, and mostly it is your responsibility to understand the value of your people.  It is in the Gemba where you will find the most memorable rewards.

Lean Teams USA

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