Gemba walks, teachable moments and standard work checklists

Chris Calderone
president and founder of Lean Homecare Consulting Group

As leaders, we are routinely called upon to perform the “routine”—those everyday tasks and activities that comprise a leader’s typical day.
For example, a team lead or a supervisor may start their day by doing common daily tasks such as viewing reports, meeting with their direct manager/director, following-up on e-mails, responding to voice mails, and dealing with previous requests, etc.
Another important daily task for all leaders is (or should be) the daily “Gemba” walk. (Gemba is a lean term meaning “where the work takes place” or “real place.”) 
A Gemba walk is a simple tactic that can increase your visibility and give you an ideal opportunity to connect with you team members. Much like rounding, a Gemba walk is about presence. A best practice is to do a Gemba walk during peak activity times.
Many of you already sit in the “Gemba” with your teams—if you don’t, then make sure you are walking through the work area at least once per day.
All of these routine tasks can be considered standard work for leaders.
As a leader, you can clearly convey the importance of standard work by creating a leader checklist that includes all of the routine leadership tasks that you do on a daily basis.
I can think of many important tasks that should be listed, including doing huddles, engaging in staff rounding, and doing Gemba walks, etc. Also, consider dropping in on your high-performers. While you are at it, drop-in on your low performers, too.
What will you do today, and everyday, to either move the low performer up or out? And don’t take for granted that your high performers will always want to stay—sometimes you have to “re-recruit” your high performers.
Remember, the only thing worse than a high performer that leaves is a low performer that stays.
It is also a good idea to consider taking advantage of at least one teachable/coachable moment everyday as part of your leader standard work.
When taking advantage of a teachable moment, consider the following:
·         Did a process breakdown? How?
·         Did someone miss something? What is a human issue or a system/process issue?
·         Did you drill down to root cause(s) and share lessons learned so the error is less likely to reoccur?
I can’t think of a more effective method for conveying the importance of, and your commitment to, standard work than developing a Leader Standard Work Checklist.
As a leader, what would you include on your checklist?

Chris Calderone is president and founder of Lean Homecare Consulting Group. Reach him at or 737-709-5487



Having worked with ***** and a few others before I have a hard time in identifying the value they bring to the table. From my admittedly limited personal experience with consultants they often take the ideas of employees that are "in the trenches" so to speak, repackage them with a little MBA knowledge sprinkled in, then outright resell them to unsuspecting owners as their own ideas.

It is very hurtful to see someone making several grand for what amounts to other peoples' work. Unfortunately as long as owners are unwilling to listen to their employees or take an active role in actual ownership of their company, consultants will have a market for idea theft.

My pappy said it best: "Never trust a man that monograms his initials onto his shirt."

Those that cannot do, teach. And those that cannot teach, consult.