Where Did Gemba Come From?
It is a Japanese term which means “the real place”. The Japanese detectives are calling the crime scene as gemba and the Japanese television reporters will refer themselves reporting from the gemba. In the world of business, it refers to a place where the value’s created; in the manufacturing, it is the floor of the factory. In addition, it may refer to any site like construction site, floor of the sales or from where the provider of the service directly interacts with the consumers.
Gemba and its Examples
In the lean manufacturing, gemba’s idea is that problems are visible and the best ideas will come from going to it gemba. Gemba walk, is like MWBA or Management By Waking Around, is an activity that able to take the management to the front line to seek for opportunities and waste to practice the gemba keizen, or practical improvement of shop floor.
While in the quality management, it means the manufacturing floor and its idea is when the problem occurs, the engineers are required to go there and comprehend the problems full impact and get information from the sources available. Different from surveys and focused groups, gemba visit is not bound or scripted by what one would want to ask.
Glenn Mazur had introduced this term QFD or Quality Function Deployment (the quality system for the new products where the manufacturing never start yet) to mean the business or lifestyle place of the customers. The idea is to be customer driven, a person must got to customer’s gemba to help understand the opportunities and problems with the use of own senses to collect and process the data.
Gemba walk implies the action of walking to see the process in actual mode, ask questions, understand the works, and able to learn from it. It is also one of the fundamentals of the philosophy of lean management. Taiichi Ohno, the Toyota executive, lead the concept development of gemba walk. It is an opportunity for the staff to make a stand back on their day-to-day works to walk in the floor of their working place to see some wasteful activities happen around.
The term used “going to the gemba” is more to be like a Japanese terminology “genchi gembutsu” perceived to compare to the term “management by walking around”. The method is manifesting a more resemblance to the motions and time studies of Frederick Winslow Taylor, even more recent on contextual design and contextual inquiry methods, which based in the context-specific learning of the work practices, enables to produce a design-relevant product insights and process.
— Slimane Zouggari