Explanation of Gemba

Gemba in Japanese

Gemba in it’s original Japanese meaning means “The Real Place”. In business the term is often used in contexts of decision making or improvement, taken to mean the place where the value is found.
You can find examples of the original Japanese term translated Gemba or Genba the first one is more common, the second probably more correct from a pronunciation point of view.

Gemba can also be understood in context of “san gen shugi” (Three real philosophy). The three philosophies are:

  • The Real Place. (The “in-real-life” way of be present rather than the virtual reality.)
  • The Real Thing. (The real thing rather than a picture.)
  • Realistic Action. (Making plans practical instead of idealistic plans.)

This is also called the “looser” translation of Gemba.

The term Gemba also reappears in the term “Gemba Kaizen” which is used in Japanese process improvement initiatives. This is about finding improvements “on the floor”, so the collaboration between leader and employees is bigger and more valuable.

In quality management, Gemba in relation to Lean is for the leader to be present “on the floor”, like “Gemba Kaizen”. So if a problem occurs, the leader will be present and therefore must try to get the full understanding of the impact of the problem using all whats needed to gather and process the data.

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