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Gemba 101 - The Gemba Walk

The Gemba Walk is one of the most important tools managers have at their disposal to lead and manage effectively.

Gemba (現場?, which is also romanized as genba) is a Japanese term which means "the real place." Japanese detectives refer to the crime scene as gemba, while Japanese TV reporters or others who are reporting from a particular place might refer to themselves as reporting from genba (exchanging the M for an N).

In business, gemba, or genba, actually refers to the place within the business where value is created - either for the customer or for the business itself. For example, in manufacturing the genba refers to the factory floor, where the action is.

However, it can also be used loosely to denote, or point to, any "site" such as a construction site, sales floor or where the service provider interacts directly with the customer.[1]

In lean manufacturing, the idea of gemba is that the problems are visible, and the best improvement ideas will come from going to the gemba, or the floor where the production is taking place. The gemba walk, much like Management By Walking Around (MBWA), is an activity that takes management to the front lines to look for waste and opportunities to practice gemba kaizen, or practical shopfloor improvement.

In quality management, gemba means the manufacturing floor and the idea is that if a problem occurs, the engineers must go there to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all sources. Unlike focus groups and surveys, gemba visits are not scripted or bound by what one wants to ask.

Glenn Mazur introduced this term into Quality Function Deployment (QFD, a quality system for new products where manufacturing has not begun) to mean the customer's place of business or lifestyle. The idea is that to be customer-driven, one must go to the customer's gemba to understand his problems and opportunities, using all one's senses to gather and process data.


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Gemba 101 - The Gemba Walk

  1. 1. Observe, Engage, Improve Get to know one of the most effective lean methods used today. The leaders in visual safety. 101Gemba
  2. 2. What Is Gemba? The term gemba means “the real place” • A gemba is literally any direct location where the action is taking place. • Within the lean culture it refers to the location where value is created and ultimately improved.
  3. 3. What Is Gemba? Management is able to observe from the front lines to develop the best improvement ideas - instead of behind a desk. “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're 1,000 miles away from a cornfield.” --Dwight Eisenhower
  4. 4. Your Approach is Key • The observer must have a deep interest in understanding what is really going on • Leave all assumptions and opinions at the office Before you go to the gemba you have to know how to approach the gemba:
  5. 5. Your Approach is Key • Direct observation takes a specific skill set. It essential to getting the most out of your gemba • The goal is to fully understand gemba behaviors and how they relate to the current situation within the gemba
  6. 6. Your Approach is Key • Show respect • Your direct interaction with the employee(s) is important to the gemba • Make sure they feel respected to get the most out of your gemba • Great opportunity to strengthen your lean culture
  7. 7. “Going to the Gemba” Four steps to gemba success 1. Know Your purpose 2. Know Your gemba 3. Observe the framework 4. Validate
  8. 8. Know Your Purpose • If you don't know why you're there, then there's no point being there • Wandering around without a purpose is inefficient and counter- productive
  9. 9. Know Your Purpose Know before you go • Why am I going to observe? • What am I trying to learn? You should never go to a gemba without knowing these answers first!
  10. 10. Know Your Gemba Calling your factory floor “your” gemba is limiting your ability to improve The gemba is wherever the activity is performed that you are trying to understand and improve Each organization has it's own unique points of activity Each point is a new gemba
  11. 11. Observe The Framework Anyone can look around, observation takes skill What and how you observe are important See through the surface and into the process, the equipment, the people, the material Observe the activities, connections and flows Interpret individually and as a whole
  12. 12. Validate Never assume that what you see is what you get Somethings the eye can't see i.e.- thought process as one works through a problem If you don't know the norm, you can't address abnormalities in the process
  13. 13. Validate Avoid a false reality When an observation is complete, validate your conclusions with the one you observed You can then test your reality and validate your claims
  14. 14. What Gemba is NOT Gemba is NOT Management by Walking Around (MBWA) MBWA is unstructured Your goal is not to solve specific problems by walking around pointing out negatives MBWA can be extremely ineffective and hurt morale
  15. 15. What Are You Waiting For? GET TO THE GEMBA! Observe the Gemba Engage with Employees Continue to Improve Operations Sustain your Lean Practices Strengthen your Culture
  16. 16. Call: 1-866-777-1360 Contact Us Today! Or visit us at:
  17. 17. The path to safety isn't hard. All it takes is a knowledgable guide. The leaders in visual safety