When Array began facilitating Gemba Mapping events for clients, we had no standard set of tools to help make the event go smoothly. We would show up with a bag full of markers and a roll of paper. The original Gemba Maps were drawn with markers on the paper, resulting in lots of crossing out and the perceived need for giant bottles of correction fluid.

After some rapid improvement cycles (and our inability to find a bottle of correction fluid that would suffice), we began testing the use of sticky notes on our Gemba Maps. We tried many different shapes, sizes and colors for the process blocks, problem bursts and transformation bursts. Trust me, there are a ton of options out there.

We also purchased different colored permanent markers and tested infinite combinations of markers and sticky notes. The goal was to achieve a Gemba Map with an aesthetically pleasing combination of sticky note colors and marker shades. After extensive testing, much to the chagrin of our designers, we settled on neon sticky notes and a black permanent marker. This simple pairing could be easily read from across the room and helped us simplify the supply list. A set of multi-colored, wide permanent markers is also included for drawing connecting lines on the Gemba Map.

Once we had the markers and sticky notes figured out, we needed to include some of the other important supplies. It only took one meeting with generic masking tape for us to realize that we needed to invest in the real deal. Don’t skimp on the quality of your masking tape or your maps might just fall right off the wall in the middle of an event (not that we know from experience). Safety scissors and dots were added to round out the kit, as those were two items that we found ourselves reaching for most often.

The travel bag we selected was also the result of some trial and error. Initially, we used a hard plastic tool box with a removable tray to store and transport the supplies. This box was big and bulky, making it difficult to transport and tempting to leave behind. When forced to pack up supplies for a flight to Florida, I realized that we needed a more portable version of the toolkit. Since we transitioned our toolkits to these handy, travel-sized versions, we’re proud to say that no Traveling Lean Facilitator Toolkit has been left behind.

We believe these are the must-have items for a successful lean event. Lean facilitators—what other tools do you bring with you to events?