Published: 15 April 2021

Welcome to the Gemba

Introducing The Gemba

As a Leader regardless of what department you head up or are responsible for, how many of you actually understand the importance of The Gemba – or in fact know what it means or how powerful this place is to your business?  How many of you sit in board meetings or team meetings and make assumptions based on hearsay, or reports generated from the latest ‘solve all of your problems software’ about what happens in other departments or on the shop floor?  How many of you problem solve from behind a laptop?  I guess a few of you will be nodding your heads in agreement and thinking yes that’s me – well if it is then please read on.  If it is not you, then still read on to confirm that our thinking is aligned…….

Within Lean or business circles in general you may have heard of the word Gemba – but what does it mean?

Gemba is a Japanese word which means “The real place” or “the place where value is created” and is referred to as the actual place the problem was found or the place something happened.  As part of this theory, it is extremely important that we must go to the Gemba to investigate any problem or incident.  Speak with data, speak with facts – your gut instinct may be right but at that point it is still an opinion or guesswork.

At the Gemba

Where is the Gemba?

It is not one individual place, within manufacturing it would be the shop floor, or it could be a construction site, a call centre, an office, a laboratory. As long as we remember that we need to Go to the place, look at the process and speak with the people – the idea is simple, however we understand that this will almost always take people out of their comfort zone, however going on a Gemba walk is a great way to get to know your workforce and the processes used to produce or make your products / provide your service. 



What is a Gemba Walk?

The Gemba walk, developed by Toyota focuses on the identification and elimination of waste from an operation and is required learning for anyone serious about implementing consistent process change.

As with all smart companies, Toyota understood that the commitment and actions of their leadership have a great influence over an entire operation.  The Gemba Walk gives those managers and executives the chance to visit the production floor and see how a specific operation is done.  The benefit of this is that it breaks down assumptions of how they think things are done allowing them to see what actually happens.  Aside from this, it allows for interaction with operators and production staff, giving them a voice and listening to their input.  Although this is one of the positives, it must also be pointed out that the Gemba Walk should not be used to find faults and blame operators, nor to implement changes on a whim.  


Done properly, a Gemba Walk can have a dramatic impact on an organisation. By closely observing “the place where value is created” and listening to employees, project leaders and business managers give themselves a fresh perspective on the business and new insight into how changes can make products and services better for customers.


So what are you waiting for……

Published: 15 April 2021