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Lean Alert: Go to the Gemba

Ron Harper   

Business Operations General Manufacturing gemba Harper Lean manufacturing

Japanese term refers to “where the work is being done.”

Problems can only be solved if the current situation is clearly understood, and seen first-hand.

When there’s a business or operational problem, the first step in the “lean” problem solving approach should be to go to the “Gemba”, the Japanese term that refers to where the work is being done.

Understand the situation clearly, then engage with operating teams and leaders to understand their different perspectives. Make your own observations and when you experiment with potential solutions, observe the results first hand – not through a report or e-mail.

Solving problems and creating true sustainable continuous improvement requires management by facts, observations and problem solving done at the Gemba, not in the design or operations offices.

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