Gemba: The Power of Observation

NOTICE: Because of Covid-19 and due to the highly experiential and collaborative nature of our courses, all courses are suspended until further notice. The health and safety of our clients is our priority. Also a priority is offering first class courses that are extremely engaging.****


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’ throNew practice of going to the Gemba must be done deliberately and respecfullyugh 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 1-day workshop, 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 workshop is critical for all employees, including for Mid-management and Senior 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 for Government.

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

Workshop 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 for Government.

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


Workshop Costs

Individual Registration

Cost for individual registration to each 1-day Gemba in-class workshop is $395.00 +HST* per person, payable at registration by credit card (or Departmental Acquisition Card).

Your Team In-Your-Workplace

In-Your-Workplace group workshop for up to 14 participants. Cost for each 1-day in-your-workplace Lean workshop, $2,750.00 (+HST)* for up to 14 participants in your workplace (below $5,000 and can be paid by credit card). Contact us to book. Cost includes all learning materials.

In-Your-Workplace group workshop costs are for the National Capital Region and we also offer all our courses in the regions. Contact us to get a quote that meets your needs.

Combine courses to earn a Certificate in Lean for the Public Sector or an Advanced Certificate in Lean for the Public Sector.


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 for Government approaches 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 for Government 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 for the Public Sector and the Advanced Certificate in Lean for the Public Sector. 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.

**Workshops outside of Ottawa: Please note that non-attendance for training workshops managed by Alpen Path Solutions Inc. does not entitle the participant to a refund. For workshops offered outside of Ottawa, cancellation with less than 45 days advance notice forfeits a refund. However, an alternate participant may attend instead, please advise us as soon as possible (Introduction to Lean for Government is a prerequisite). Refunds, minus a 15% service charge, are provided upon written notification of cancellation received at least 45 days prior to a training workshop date outside of Ottawa. 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 for the Public Sector and the Advanced Certificate in Lean for the Public Sector.

****Participants who were registered for upcoming courses 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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