Gemba is Japanese and an expression used in lean environments. It means where the real action takes place, and comes from the word gembutsu which means “real thing”.
Gemba is rarely found at an executive’s desk, you would need to go to areas like marketing department or on the shop floor.
Going to the gemba is also called the gemba walk. It is the best way to get first hand and unmodified information needed to make critical decisions. It can be compared a bit with a crime scene, when investigating a crime it is not just done from a desk, it require going to the gemba (crime scene) looking for clues, asking questions and listening to statements.
Similar in an organisation, if there is a problem with a product it is not solved in a meeting room. A proper problem solving exercise requires going to the line or cell it is produced to gather information and data.
Definition of Gemba Walk
Gemba walks should be regular scheduled and the focus can be rotated for every walk, but the focus should be on continuous improvement needs. The other two element of a gemba walk is questions and answers. Don’t just walk passively through an area, ask questions to team leaders, supervisors etc. and carefully listen to what is said.
Share what you learned with others and follow up and monitor progress.
Gemba Walk Questions
Below are some of the questions that could be asked during a gemba walk.
- What changes should be implemented to measure efficiency of the process
- How do you know employees are following the SOP
- What is the process
- How do you know the process is working
- What do you do to improve the process
Gemba walk is one of the lean tools, if you found it interesting then our 5S Training might be of interest to you. It is usually the first step to take when starting out with lean, as it creates the foundation for further improvements to be implemented.
Alternatively you can continue to our Quality Training page to see some of the other types of training we provide.Go to Quality Training