Gemba: The power of observation

Gemba is the most important place, it is “the real place” where work is happening and where a client interacts with the service or the product you deliver. Learning how to ‘see with your feet’ through structured observation in the workplace is fundamental for continuous improvement to remove assumptions about work viewed from a distance. To become agile means understanding the changing needs of clients and requires observation at the Gemba. In this course, participants learn about how to engage in Gemba walks and in ethnographic observation of work more generally, including with the client. In the workplace, observation is tied with visual management tools that make flow visible and deviations from standards visible. Seeing flow and disruptions to flow is a skill that applies in any context where there is work (such as paid work, volunteer work, home work or school work). This course is critical for all employees, including all management to take on the new practice of going to “the real place” where work is performed with Gemba walks. Prerequisite is Introduction to Lean.

Soon! Pre-register online, only $24.95 (incl. HST/GT). Online training includes short videos, quizzes, downloads, a work-based assignment and you earn a course Certificate of Completion.

Also read the eBook ‘Gemba walks: a brief guide for Lean leaders‘ ($9.95 incl. taxes) that comes with downloads and a work-based assignment.

Part of the Certificate in Lean and the Advanced Certificate in Lean. We developed and have been teaching the Certificate in Lean since 2015.

Course Themes
-Lean tools such as Gemba walk, standard process, standard work instructions, leader’s standard work, visual management with real-time data
-Scientific approach of workplace ethnography – understanding everyday work from the perspective of the worker
-Understanding value for the client with ethnography (observation) in their ‘native’ environment to become agile at flowing value to clients

Prerequisite: Introduction to Lean.

Who should attend: From front line workers to senior management, this course is designed for everyone. Gemba is especially critical for all levels of management.

NOTICE: Because of COVID-19 and due to the highly experiential and collaborative nature of our courses, all in-person courses are suspended until further notice. The health and safety of our clients is our priority. ****


Why we don’t use a Lean belt system

Like many Lean management teachers (sensei) and practitioners worldwide, we offer a training program that is not designed around a so-called ‘Lean belt’ system (white belt, yellow belt, green belt, black belt…). Our training helps all employees build and expand their Lean knowledge and experience. Exhaustive analysis of Lean transformations that promote pockets of so-called ‘Lean’ experts supports that belt-type or expert-focused ‘Lean’ deployment is not sustainable and is not compatible with Lean as a collaborative science. Short-term efficiency gains are not sustainable without embedding continuous improvement in everyday work.

The Lean belt approach was borrowed from the fundamentally different Six Sigma prescriptive methodology that involves experts with varying levels of mastering statistical and mathematical tools. In Six Sigma, the outside statistical expert has special skills/knowledge to manage work. On the other hand, Lean is an overarching approach that involves everyone as experts in their own job to solve problems and deliver value to clients. In essence, in a Lean organization everyone engages in collaborative science – co-defining problems, co-defining potential countermeasures and collaborating in implementation and measurement of countermeasures to problems, every single day. Unfortunately, a so-called Lean belt approach also tends to promote the idea of gradation where lower level belts may not be able to contribute as much to improvements as would higher level belts.

We also do not provide Lean training or services with a project management or project-based approach. Once more, these misguided approaches separate work from improvement, exhaust precious energy from teams, tend to reproduce command-and-control with project teams imposing on others and create the illusion that improvement should be separated from everyday work and everyday improvement of work. When striving to become a Lean organization, work and improvement are one and the same – to engage in work is to engage in improvement with a goal to flow more and more value to clients every single day.

Read the paper ‘Lean: it’s not rocket science, it’s work science‘ (in PDF format).


Lean is the science of work: see work (by using visual tools/management to see flow and what disrupts flow of value to clients such as maps or ‘kanban’, because in science you can’t measure what you can’t see), measure work (the simplest and most widely used measures are time and quality) and improve work every day (by collaboratively optimizing the flow of value to clients to make flow faster, easier and cheaper).

*Please note that non-attendance for training workshops managed by Alpen Path Solutions Inc. does not entitle the participant to a refund or the possibility of transferring to a later workshop date. Cancellation for workshops offered in Ottawa with less than 13 days advance notice forfeits a refund or transfer; however, an alternate participant may attend instead, please advise us as soon as possible (Introduction to Lean is a prerequisite). Refunds, minus a 15% service charge, are provided upon written notification of cancellation received at least 13 days prior to a training workshop date. No refunds are issued following this date. Schedule, workshop offering and location are subject to change without notice. Workshops/Courses can be cancelled without advance notice by Alpen Path Solutions Inc. and in which case participants receive a 100% refund for registration fees. Courses followed at the CCE that were facilitated by Alpen Path Solutions Inc. will be recognized towards the Certificate in Lean and the Advanced Certificate in Lean. Once a date is booked for a team training, the training is binding and will be fully charged unless cancelled with at least 1 month notice.

****Participants who were registered for upcoming courses during the COVID-19 pandemic will automatically be fully refunded for their course registration(s). Participants who had not attended their initial registration date and postponed their training for another training date are beyond the refund deadline attached to their original registration date. The latter participants are eligible, however, to attend courses pending a new course format/schedule is established. Thanks!

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