Here's a recent find about common mistakes that we as Lean leaders make. In the content, there's some great advice about gemba walks: one of the best ways to do a gemba walk is to build up to it by just being around the place where the process runs.
Rather than walk through the system from the start, be present and gradually develop into the waste walk.
My two cents: as a Trauma Medical Director and later as a Chief of Surgery, working in the system allowed me to easily map out the value stream and identify waste in our processes. Watch out, however, being too familiar can breed contempt!
Being around too often or too present in the system, especially if you're highlighting findings from a waste walk, may not always resonate with the rest of administration or your colleagues.
Make sure the team understands the nature of the waste walk and importance of value stream mapping before embarking on the walks while you're working clinically.
Hint: in healthcare, groups unfamiliar with waste walks often think that the results are just complaints and sometimes complaints about specific people--especially if the waste walk impacts their process in some way. Unfortunately, sometimes (even if you do make it clear that these waste walks aren't personal) you'll get the ad hominem attack. So be ready!
Carefully indicate, ahead of time, that the waste walk is non-threatening and not meant to "catch people"--it's not about the particular people who are there working that day...even go so far as to say ahead of time it's not about the individuals who are present that day and it's all about the processes involved!
Take a look at this article about the value of the waste walk and how to build up to performing them over time.
Our CFO started his journey to the gemba simply by eating his lunch in the employee lunch room one day a week. At first no one talked to him. Gradually, people started casual conversations. This led to his spending one day a week working a full day on the same floor where most of his staff worked. He did not have an agenda. He was just present and available to people if they happened to want to chat. Once people habituated to his more frequent presence, he started walking around and asking some curious, open questions about people’s visual boards, at first with a coach and then on his own. Three years later, he continues to work on the same floor as his employees one day a week, and does at least one gemba walk on a weekly basis.