The Continuous Improvement Blog

Gemba stories: a tale of airport inefficiencies

Written by Colin McArdle on 06 Feb 2018

The airport experience. When we're going on holiday it's great; all that excitement and anticipation at the prospect of a week away in the sun or on the slopes. It's enough to mask the minor frustrations of queuing for check-in, for baggage checks, and the long wait to board once you get to the gate.

We accept all of this because at the other end is a big sign saying 'freedom!'. Time free from work, washing, cleaning, taking the bins out... and time free to spend with our loved ones.

The return journey, on the other hand, is never quite so pleasant. It's no surprise really. Though you may feel refreshed and well-rested after some time away, the return journey signals 'back to the real world'. And all that washing...


Gemba stories: how this supermarket chain could benefit from lean 5s

Written by Colin McArdle on 29 Jan 2018

Gemba is a fundamental lean tool.

In Japanese, Gemba means “the real place”. The principle behind it is ‘Go look see’ - visit the work area and understand what happens, free from assumptions and hearsay. And here, opportunities for process improvement will reveal themselves.

For people trained in Lean and how to conduct a Gemba Observation, it’s near impossible not to observe a situation and apply Lean tools to it.  And, as a Lean Expert, I look at processes and see an abundance of wasteful activities everywhere.

Take this recent example of a situation I witnessed outside my local supermarket.