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Gemba Guides supports organisations in their Lean Journeys.
We build productivity and quality through the conception of lean business strategies based on each unique organisational situation. The rigour of our approach is underpinned by our unparalleled depth of experience in Toyota Management Practices. We also bring the ability to execute strategies with a human centred coaching & mentoring capability that resonates to all levels within an organisation.

• Gemba: "The place where value is added and the truth revealed"
• Guides: "To light the paths of your Lean journey" 

Researchers, Womack, Jones and Roos coined the term “Lean” to describe Toyota’s revolutionary management processes in their 1990 book “The Machine that Changed the World”. Since then, “Lean” has become the dominant signature of a movement based on Toyota practices. These are now being applied wherever customer value is created - in Manufacturing, Resources, Healthcare, Financial Services, Government, Retail, Hospitality and more. 

At Gemba Guides, we understand being a "believer" is fundamental, but the pathway to operationalise the thinking and turn it into a self-sustaining culture is more difficult.

Our philosophy at Gemba Guides is to use our experience to assist organisations deliver benefits to all stakeholders which will be of benefit to the broader community and society in general.

How we work with Organisations is most important to us and differentiates us from others.

Proven techniques to engage and work with the Front line to unlock value and improve performance along with techniques to align the real work and its improvement to the organisations true north objectives is a core competency for Gemba Guides
While our developmental roots are in Automotive at the Pioneer and ongoing benchmark for Lean Management thinking, Toyota, we have enjoyed the ability to demonstrate the lean application to a range of Industries.

• Automotive Retail Service and Repair
• Building & Construction
• Manufacturing
• Mining & Processing
• Warehousing & Logistics
• Healthcare
• Clothing & Textiles

Gemba Guides Vision
To build strong, sustainable organisations for all stakeholders and society.

Our Mission
Guiding organisations in the practical application of true lean thinking.

Our Values
1. To respect each organisations people, history and aspirations.
2. To see each Gemba through “Fresh Eyes".
3. To transfer our skills efficiently.
4. To see sustainability as our contribution.
5. Give back, through special support to SME/NFP's.

Our Primary Services


Lean strategy is our core strength led by principal Doug Rickarby. With a depth of strategy experience gained from both working inside Toyota and a range of external companies, Doug can diagnose the 'current situation', and assist in developing strategies and tactics to overcome some of the most difficult problems to get a lean journey on track. This often involves drawing on his depth of experience in change management, organisational development and leadership. This is where many lean initiatives struggle. Strategy guidance can range from working with a Board, s CEO, Senior Operational Management or an internal "lean promotion manager".


Ultimately, lean is about developing and empowering people at all levels. While many can teach the theory, what is usually lacking is the experienced and skilful coach or mentor supporting the people who need to lead change. Such a coach or mentor can dramatically build the capability and confidence of leaders. This could be as a sounding board, being in the background to give feedback or teaming up to help tackle tough situations. Guiding leaders to insight or coaching teams on roles and responsibilities can be the accelerant needed to reach goals. Coaching can be very effective and economical, with a minimal time commitment. Continuity is the key.


Lean has many tools and systems that provide support, however they need to be appropriately applied to the circumstances and stage of a lean journey. In conjunction with an overall strategy, we can advise on the few tools that make up a minimum system of work, that when PDCA is applied consistently, can ‘pull’ in the other tools or practices in a sustainable developmental way, matching the learning agility of the organisation. Using the technique of pilot areas, going narrow and deep, the organisation can identify barriers and systemic problems that need to be solved before attempting wider deployment. This is the efficient and cost effective pathway for the journey. Demonstration programs or pilot projects can be tailored according to the needs of each work area.


Developing people through engaging them in the lean journey is crucial. Existing people are the best, but if necessary, we can support recruitment and training to develop the right people to match a culture and with the skills and aptitudes to grow with the organisations lean journey. Often, this is a vital part of the strategy. We can support diagnosis and assessment and change management strategies, leadership development, vision and objective setting to align the lean journey to business goals.

The Gemba Guides Team

Our team is led by Doug Rickarby and consists of Senior Guides, each with a minimum of 20 years in Lean and 10 years in Line Management and Leadership positions. They can work at all levels on translating objectives to strategy and programs in a wide range of fields. We also have Guides who can engage directly with Front Line Supervisors and their Teams with Lean tools and processes to improve the work of members and develop capability towards improved performance. All have extensive practical experience and their personal profiles can be matched to the needs of your organisation on its unique lean journey.

Doug Rickarby - Managing Director and Principle Guide
Doug, a Manufacturing Engineer by training, was one of the first people outside of Japan to be deeply ingrained with Toyota fundamentals over 35 years ago. He then spent his career applying it to the many situations and circumstances of Toyota Australia, its suppliers and business partners. Doug initiated Toyota’s Supplier Development program in the later 1980’s, and has since continued to adapt those same lean principles to the Australian context in Toyota and Non-Toyota companies. Doug later gained extensive experience in human resources. He led Toyota Australia’s Training & Development function during the periods of extensive restructuring and consolidation of companies in Australia. Doug subsequently held Senior Management roles in Purchasing, Supply Chain Management, Corporate Strategy & Planning and Manufacturing operations. In the final phase of his Toyota career, Doug was the Divisional Manager of Manufacturing where he led his 2000 plus manufacturing employees through their “transition programs” while achieving the “Last car = Best Global Car” plant performance levels until the final cessation of operations in October 2017.

Lucy Liu - PhD, MBA, BSc - Principle Guide 
A lean transformation leader and human resource management expert with 30 years experience in leading organisational cultural change and Toyota Production System (TPS) embedment at Toyota’s Australian & Asia Pacific Manufacturing plants. Prudent capability and deep theoretical and practical insight in strategy design, execution and building organisation alignment for organisational development and renewal.

Michael Nolan - Mast (Eng) B.Eng (Mech) - Senior Guide  
A Senior Project Manager and Mechanical Engineer with experience in Automotive, Construction and Resources sectors in Australia and overseas. Michael has proven capability to lead projects from inception and strategy development through to final handover and completion. Leading, coaching and building collaborative relationships with all stakeholders to achieve success. Having recently completed his master’s degree in project management with high distinction, Michael has proven ability to work across multiple disciplines, adapt to new environments and deliver value for his clients.

Brett Anderson - Senior Guide
Brett has forged his 35 year career around developing high performance Lean Supply Chains in the Automotive Industry where the key to his success has not just been in his great depth of knowledge and experience in Lean tools like Just in Time, Kanban, Material and Information Flow, but has been the development of people and the creation of sustainable systems of work, by building the engagement, motivation and teamwork that will challenge the current levels and continuously surface and then close gaps to worlds best.

Bouaphet Thongvilu -  B.Eng [Elec] Dip (Log) -  Senior Guide 
A Senior Operations Manager with 25 years of Manufacturing knowhow as his base, Bouaphet is a deep lean thinker who can successfully drive organisational capability improvement and transformation projects. He enjoys the challenge of adapting to different environments and industries and in his recent assignments has enjoyed success in Healthcare and Resources sectors. Bouaphet has a penchant for delivering systems of work, engaging strongly with the front line and developing capability around problem solving while also believing in keeping things simple, practical and relevant to the work being performed.

Andrew Bircham - Dip (Eng) Dip (CS&P) - Senior Guide
Andrews span of operational experience at all levels in Automotive including time in the heart of Toyota Japans Motomatchi Plant along with his ability to relate and communicate at all levels the simple essence of Lean Principles and their practices has shown up in his post Toyota Consulting roles, including at Resources sector mine sites and in Central Coordination roles with Training and Development and Project Management.

Peter Mulhall - Dip (Bus Admin) - Senior Guide 
A highly experienced Maintenance and Engineering Manager with more than 35 years’ experience in a fast-paced high-volume manufacturing environment and a proven track record for introducing cultural change to Maintenance Functions through structured shop floor based systems. With strong problem solving and root cause analysis to achieve high performance in MTBF. MTTR and quality impacts. He has taken these concepts from Automotive and successfully adapted them to Food & Beveridge and Resources industries.

Efdal Ekerbicer Dip Proj Mgt Guide
Efdal has seen the Production Operations world from two sides, the first as a Line Manager and then from the side of being a service provider through his role as a Trainer and Coach with the internal Toyota Production System Promotion Office team in Toyota Australia. He was able to use this experience to develop his Operations Leadership when he returned to the Line Manager role and become a leading contributor to advancing the capability of his Quality group to assist the Australian Plant to achieve global best performance levels. 


Having closely aligned independent collaborating organisations gives us the versatility, flexibility and options to support the integrated strategies and holistic approach that can be required of any journey.

Alignments Australia

Alignments Australia’s David Finn, is a Leadership and Management training specialist with vast experience in corporate Australia in a wide range of industries who understands what’s required in leaders to build culture and deliver performance. David works with teams and individuals from all levels from frontline to executive.

Action Lean Ops

Action Lean Ops’ Christian Zimmer is an astute and highly experienced Engineering & Maintenance Manager who has lead the reformation of work systems and cultures, breaking down barriers of traditional demarcation while building the skills and abilities of people to engage in ownership and continuous improvement. He can support a lean journey on many levels including providing specialist and accredited training support services

Pro Bono and Special Rate Support
At Gemba Guides, we have been fortunate to have been supported to develop our skills over many years mainly in the Automotive Industry. We set aside time to provide either pro-bono or non-commercial rates, for not for profit or small Australian companies with a unique or strategic potential to benefit the local community through employment growth or export potential. Please talk to us about what we can offer.