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The Gemba Kanri is the different methods and tools that the manager of a sector must implement to “ control ” his area of responsibility.


The Gemba Kanri is the translation of “ Management of the Workplace »1, and represents the entire mission of the field supervision. Some companies talk about TGK for Total Gemba Kanri or Total Location Management. They represent the different methods and tools that the manager of a sector must implement to “ control “the place.

His role is more to assist and animate the Gemba than to give orders and monitor the employees. Key player in the process of progress, he will face the reality of everyday life while integrating the vision and strategy of the company. Multicard function, he must know and master a whole set of techniques that we describe below.

 1 – The attitude of the Gemba management

Management must demonstrate exemplary behavior regarding Lean Spirit. He must have a positive and proactive attitude towards a change approach and welcome new Lean projects with the initiative of these teams or the Lean teams of the company. He must know keep the momentum initiated during the projects while maintaining the results of these projects. He must become a Leader and no longer a manager.

“If you want to build a boat, do not gather your men and women to give them orders, to explain every detail, to tell them where to find everything … If you want to build a boat, give birth in the hearts of your men and women the desire of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

2 – Manage the daily

This role represents about 50% of his time. Often very time-consuming, it is in this role that the manager ” drowns”, no longer allowing him to have the necessary perspective and time to fulfill the other facets of his function.

To help him in this mission, the precepts of Gemba Kanri give us the elements below2.

2.1 Manage with standards

Thanks to standards, coaching can drive the workshop. It is still necessary to know them and to enforce them. Managers must always rely on valid standards to make decisions. With each ” new” problem, the first question of the manager must be ” has the standard been followed ? ».

He will use the principle of process confirmation to accomplish this task.

2.2 Ensure good working conditions

He is also the guarantor of the good working conditions of the staff. Through regular audits, he ensures that the security elements are present and respected, that the staff follows the hygiene recommendations and that the 5S is maintained on all workstation.

2.3 Ensure continuity of work

The proximity manager is in charge of ensuring that the work goes smoothly. It must ensure the presence of the staff but also materials and equipment to produce.

3 – Animate change

Animating the process of change represents between 30 and 50% of working time. For that, 2 axes of work.

3.1 Identify and eliminate problems

In everyday life, the problems are legions. In accordance with the principle Jidoka, the proximity manager makes sure that the problems are solved one after the other, at the earliest. This goes through the mastery of his Gemba. He must be able to understand it, to see the evolutions and to take a step back from him to know where to go. The control of Gemba passes through :

  • Make an observation 5M of it regularly (about 1 time per quarter).
  • Take stock of the improvements implemented and those to come.
  • Know what are the real requirements of customers as long as the expectations in terms of quality than quantity (Takt Time).
  • Have a thorough knowledge of applied standards and working ranges.
  • Master the equipment present: brand, history, state, technology…

3.2 Support and participate in the progress process

In the Lean organization, the proximity manager has a function of « pilot » of Lean project, in the sense that he will participate in all projects taking place in his area of responsibility. Thus, it must be punctually dedicated to projects to remove barriers, ensure compliance with rules (presenteeism …) the smooth running of projects and provide expertise and vision of the field. It should be noted that the pilot will have to congratulate the staff for their various participations in the progress process.

On a daily basis, the local manager drives the progress process. In this, he actively contributes to the suggestion system and passes the right messages. He has to continually repeat that :

  • Lean is part of the daily work of all staff.
  • Lean is the result of an individual and team contribution.

4 – Participate in innovation

For less than 20% of his time, the proximity manager will have the mission to participate in innovation in his area of responsibility. We mean by the term innovation, the fact :

  • To participate in various projects for the design of new products or processes. Is it just for information but also to bring his expertise and knowledge of the Gemba.
  • To be a privileged relay in the deployment of the strategy of the company and the Hoshin Kanri.

Les outils du Gemba Kanri

Empower teams

Whether to solve problems or suggest suggestions for improvements, the local manager strives to make his teams autonomous. Based on the development policy implemented by the management and the human resources department, it will develop polycompetence, integrate staff into the problem solving, develop self quality and will be proactive in implementing autonomous maintenance.

To know how to delegate

To be able to delegate is a quality must have the proximity manager. Not only to fulfill the goal of autonomy but also to allow it to focus on tasks where it has more value added. Some rules are to remember :

    • Everything can not be delegated because tasks, like the power to appreciate, can not be delegated.
    • Delegation is not more risky than anything else.
    • The delegation is not necessary, it is accepted. To find ways to convince.
    • Once delegated, do not systematically check.

Managerial routines

In order to standardize the management, the proximity manager must set up management routines. These routines consist of both informational meetings (post meeting, monthly meeting …) and audits. These routines are intended to increase responsiveness in solving problems and is based on the principles of Genchi Genbutsu. The manager goes to the field, finds out for himself the facts and decides with the team actions and countermeasures. It’s based on what’s called the process Asakai / Yuichi :

    • Asakai : translated by “morning meeting“, these are the daily information points of the manager, which he performs in the morning on the Gemba. This allows him to take the atmosphere of the field and take stock of the events of the day before.
    • Yuichi : translated as “ afternoon meeting “, these are the daily information points made more late in the day by the manager. The goal is to be able to share the information of the day and prepare the work of the night if there is.

This is also the time to organize audit tours. As we said, the proximity manager is the guarantor of the maintenance of improvements and working conditions. It must therefore provide for audits 5S, security… allowing him to diagnose the situation.

Develop visual management

Le visual management is a strong vector to spark involvement. Through clear and shared documentation, we can “ ask ” the operational staff to fill themselves a certain number of indications. The stakes are to allow the teams to react autonomously in case of gaps and to reinforce the feeling of belonging to a group.

We will find different categories of displays that are :

  • Institutional display: client, organization…
  • The regulatory display: report of the works council…
  • The workstation standards: instruction, security…
  • L’affiche complémentaire : polyvalence, trombinoscope…
  • Performance display: scrap rate, productivity…
  • The responsiveness display: a walk chart (where you can see the actual production objective and production, as well as a description of the problems), suggestions systems…
  • Displaying different Lean projects in progress or past

The walking board

The walking table is a tool for monitoring production, focusing attention on the objectives to be achieved and, above all, involving staff in a proactive process of improvement. Located closest to the line, its operation is as follows :

  1. At the change of team, the passage of instruction is carried out in support with the table.
  2. The next team erases data from the previous team.
  3. Hour after hour, the team filled by hand the quantity produced.
  4. At each change of series, the new rate is display.
  5. When a problem arises, I record it in the observations and take the necessary actions in compliance with the standards.
  6. At the end of the post I post on the graph the OEE of the team.

The marching board is used during the team leader and area manager routines.

Have notions of change management

Participating in change is above all having a mastery of the notion of paradigm and a good knowledge of the tools of the change management. The manager will have to follow trainings to master the principles and tools.


1 – J. P. Durand, P. Stewart, J. J. Castillo (1998) – L’avenir du travail à la chaine

2 – E. handyside (1997) – Genba Kanri

G. Convis (2007) – Role of Management in a Lean Manufacturing Environment

M. Graban (2011) – Lean Hospitals : quality, patient safety and employee satisfaction

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