MRC - Manufacturers Resource Center


Gemba Walks


View Training ScheduleIn the problem-solving culture that Lean requires, leadership must develop their ability to “see” process waste. Gemba is a Japanese phrase that roughly translates to “where the work is done.”

In the context of Lean, the Gemba is the physical location where work is being done for any enterprise process.  More than a casual stroll through the facility, leaders use Gemba walks as a means to proactively check processes for problems or for continuous improvement opportunities.

This two-day workshop is held at a host company and is facilitated by two former Toyota employees:  Ernie and Tracey Richardson.  Working side-by-side with the Richardsons, participants learn:

  • The meaning of Gemba walks
  • How they relate to leadership standard work in a lean enterprise
  • Techniques for making objective observations of the current state
  • Proper behaviors in interviewing employees within the Gemba
  • How to relate Gemba observations to standard work and the organization’s mission
  • To “see” beyond process results

National Instructors:

Ernie Richardson
Teaching Lean, Inc.

Ernie was hired at Toyota Motor Manufacturing KY (TMMK) in 1988, as a Production Team Leader in Assembly department Axle area. He was quickly promoted to Group Leader, Assistant Manager, Manager of Powertrain Axle Assembly and Machining, and Manager of the Skill Trades and Maintenance Development program. In 2009 Ernie was made acting Medical Director for Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America (TEMA). Ernie has 25 years’ experience in manufacturing and human resources management, which enables him to see the cultural dynamics from both functional areas of a company. He joined Teaching Lean as a co-owner after his retirement from Toyota in Feb of 2013, to share his experiences learned from his people, Japanese trainers, coordinators and Executive Coordinators in order to assist other companies on their Lean journey. He has over 1380 hours of classroom, practical training and Japan Gemba Training with a combined time of over 1 year total in Japan. Ernie worked at IBM for 8 years before joining Toyota.

Tracey Richardson
Teaching Lean, Inc.

Tracey Richardson, president/owner of Teaching Lean Inc., has more than 24 years of experience in Toyota methodologies including: Lean Problem Solving, Quality Circles, Lean Manufacturing tools, Standardized Work, Job Instruction Training, Toyota Production System, Toyota Way Values, Culture Development, Visualization (Workplace Management Systems), Continuous Improvement (Kaizen), Meeting Facilitation/Teamwork, and Manufacturing Simulations.   She is also on the faculty at the Lean Enterprise Institute ( Tracey is passionate about assisting Organizations or Companies who are on the “Lean journey” and wanting support implementing key elements for success.   Prior to Teaching Lean Inc., Tracey was a Group Leader in the Plastics Department at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky from 1988-1998. She was one of the first team members hired with the fortunate opportunity to learn from the Japanese trainers getting hands on experience from the experts.