What is Gemba?

Gemba is a Japanese word translated as “actual place” or “real place” that got common to the Lean community lingo and refers to “the place where value is created”.
For factory workers Gemba is the shopfloor, while for office workers Gemba is the office, for hospital staff, Gemba is hospital itself and for salesforces Gemba is sales floor.

As lean thinking is about maximizing value and avoiding waste, going to the Gemba is necessary to understand how the value streams works and assess its efficiency.

Basically going to see on Gemba is checking if:

  • the flow is smooth, no waiting
  • no useless loops delay deliveries, like filtering quality checks, rework…
  • no unnecessary Work in Progress (WIP) are piling up
  • there are no excess human motions or material transportation
  • etc.

Jim Womack about Gemba


Related: Gemba walk


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