Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Definitions

Glossary terms, history, people and definitions about Lean and Six Sigma


Gemba (also written as genba) is a Japanese word meaning “the actual place.” In lean practices, the gemba refers to “the place where value is created,” such as the shop floor in manufacturing, the operating room in a hospital, the job site on a construction project, the kitchen of a restaurant, and the workstation of a software programmer.

The term “going to the gemba” is described by the Japanese term “genchi gembutsu”

A popular approach in companies who implement lean principles is called “Gemba Walks,” which denote the action of going to see (“go and see”) the actual process, understand the work, ask questions, and learning from those who do the work (showing respect to them).  It is an opportunity for management and support staff to break away from their day-to-day tasks to walk the floor of their workplace to identify wasteful activities. The objective is to understand the value stream and its problems, rather than review results or make superficial comments from their office or conference room.

Michael Brenner shares 3 key reasons for doing a Gemba Walk:

  1. Clarify Purpose – provides a wonderful opportunity to learn if people inside the organization have a deep understanding of ‘why’ they are doing their work activities.
  2. Process Understanding – Leaders can see, with their own eyes, how effectively work activities between departments and between work-groups are aligned with what the organization is trying accomplish.
  3. Engaging People – provide an opportunity for leaders discover barriers that inhibit people’s ability to do great work.




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