Communication is key to any type of relationship – including a manufacturing department working on several projects simultaneously. Our employees at Swiss-Tech are like family to us, and each department is like a family unit themselves. All of that is fostered through open communication and mutual respect. In order to keep the lines of communication open in a consistent and structured way, our departments do GEMBA walks every morning.
Now you might be wondering what GEMBA means…it’s actually not an acronym. It’s a Japanese term that means “the actual place,” and the GEMBA walk was developed by manufacturing companies for employees to look at and discuss the actual process they are working on and the results in real time. Employees are updated on the progress of a project and if there are any issues. They are also able to ask questions and make suggestions for improving a process.
Here at Swiss-Tech, our GEMBA walks are focused on increasing efficiency and making sure everyone in the department is on the same page.
“Our focus is to get everyone engaged and to promote employee empowerment,” Swiss-Tech Production Supervisor Ed Hatch said. “That’s basically our goal – so everyone feels important. It’s not your supervisor or manager talking at you. Everyone is involved in updates and ideas.”
On Mondays, our departments go through the metrics from last week. They talk about the progress of projects, updates to projects and any issues that arose the week before. The rest of the week, the GEMBA walks focus on a real-time update that the group can look at and discuss.
“If there are any issues that we see, we are able to improve real time and not wait until the project is off the machine and completed,” Hatch said. “When we see an issue, we see if anyone has any suggestions.”
If the group thinks there’s a better way to do a process or has an idea on how to fix an issue, the department can submit the suggestion to the engineering department for consideration.
GEMBA walks help us foster a work family dynamic at Swiss-Tech that not only opens the lines of communicate up to resolve any potential issues faster, but also keeps our employees engaged in the process and keeps everyone’s focus on improved efficiency.