The Gemba Walk

Where does business really get done? Where does the proverbial magic happen? If your gut reaction is that it happens in the office, its time to take the Gemba Walk.

Gemba is a Japanese term that means “the actual place.” When a Japanese reporter broadcasts on location, they report from gemba. When a manufacturer wishes to improve manufacturing quality, they start with the factory floor. Value is created or wasted in Gemba. It is not enough to review data about factory performance. It is essential to see the reality from which the data is created. Unfortunately, in most companies, we’ve come to a point where we don’t trust our own eyes and avoid being in the very real situations that define our businesses.

One secret to our clients’ success is the priority we place on Gemba. In collaboration with our clients we visit factory floors, retail show rooms, and web store fronts. We spend time behind counters and on customer service calls. These are Gemba and they are a treasure trove of specific growth opportunities. If you leave consumer insights, market research, and technical experiments only to junior staff, skip focus groups, or work primarily through PowerPoint and email, it’s time for a Gemba Walk. Go to where your company is trying to create value. Look at it through your own eyes. Use your significant judgment and common sense to identify either what isn’t working or areas of possible opportunity. Use this visceral insight to define new initiatives aimed at very real opportunities.


written by: Michael Winnick
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"Gemba" on Wikipedia