Going to the Gemba

Guest Post by Megan Johnson, Student Process Improvement Coordinator

“Gemba” is a Japanese term meaning “the real place.”  When you hear of someone who is “going to the Gemba” or doing a “Gemba walk,” they are going to the actual place where the work is being done, where value is being created or added.  To really understand a process it is critical that person go to the gemba to observe what is actually happening. 

When visiting the gemba, you should ask open ended questions to hear about the process from those who are closest to the work.   

Going to the gemba should be a daily task for leaders.  When leaders go to the gemba, it provides them with an opportunity to observe a process first-hand, build relationships with those they supervise, to listen, help work through roadblocks encountered, and to help problem solve—as well as encouraging others to problem solve.

Gemba Walks, Jim Womack’s newest book is a collection of compiled letters and essays about this topic.  View more about the book HERE.


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