Monday, December 28, 2015
In Japanese, gemba means “the real place.” This is the place where work happens; where the facts can be found. In veterinary medicine, it would be the reception area, the exam room, the surgery room, etc. It is the place to go see where a problem exists, as it exists, when it exists. Contrary to Western management, Toyota understands that if a problem is to be fully understood, then all stakeholders, such as executives, supervisors, managers and workers, must be present at the problem site in order to consider all points of view and ideas, and build a consensus on how to fix it permanently. Lean leaders will “go to the gemba” when there is a problem to investigate and solve. It’s also a common practice to do planned “gemba walks” to get out of the office, to engage with staff, and to see problems and opportunities for improvement first hand.