12.12.2007

Lean Jargon - Part III, Gemba (Genba), Genbutsu, Genjitsu

There is another often used word in Lean that could use some discussion: Gemba. Actually, I couldn't find a translation* for Gemba. It turns out, the American word is Gemba, the Japanese word is Genba. Why this is true I don’t know, but thanks to the new book “Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management”, we have some clarity and can begin to understand the “gen” words: genba, genbutsu and genjitsu.

First of all, gen means actuality or reality. When we look at the word gen-ba, it means the actual place. In the terms of manufacturing, we can loosely translate this to mean where the work is done. Why is this meaningful? It is not until we understand the other gen words that this begins to make sense.

Second is gen-butsu. Butsu means, the condition of the thing. In terms of manufacturing and considering the word gen-ba, we ask ourselves, “what are the conditions of things in the workplace, where the work is actually done?” The things we are looking for? The condition of the design, the quality, the process, the people, the methods, the equipment, etc. When we think of genba and genbutsu, we are looking to see if the conditions of our standards are deviating in the workplace. This forms the basis for standardization of all aspects in the business.

Third is gen-jitsu. The actual situation. We are looking for facts so that we may understand the gap between reality and standard. We are not looking for what it should be, we know that. We are looking for actual situations, or the facts. This helps us begin to dig for the actual root cause.


If we only consider the standards we tend to sit in a meeting room wondering why the equipment, the people, the materials and processes don’t meet standards. The only way to truly know, is to go to the actual workplace, observe the actual conditions and collect the facts. This leads to true understanding of reality. Otherwise our solutions we invent in the meeting room are for problems that are not really happening in the workplace. This is the reason why problem solving begins with the saying, “go and see for yourself, in the workplace where the work is actually happening.”

Next post: Lean Jargon - Part IV, Kaizen the 3Ms and the 3Gs

*translations via alta vista babel fish.





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2 Comments:

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