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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gemba Kaizen

For everything you wanted to know on building leadership and management, refer Shyam Bhatawdekar’s website:

(Refer our High Quality Management Encyclopedia “Management Universe” at:

Gemba Kaizen (Commonsense Low-cost Approach to Management)

(Also refer Kaizen and 5S Housekeeping at URLs: (Kaizen) and (5S Housekeeping)

Gemba = Workplace

Gembutsu = The tangible objects in gemba: machines, equipment, tools, jigs, fixtures, rejects etc

A process of continuously
  • Going to the workplace (where problem/abnormality is)
  • Identifying the problem and it's root causes
  • Reducing and eliminating muda (waste), mura (inconsistency) and muri (strain)
  • Solving the problem or improving the situation

Three Segments of Kaizen or Gemba Kaizen Practice

  • Management oriented kaizen or gemba kaizen
  • Group oriented kaizen or gemba kaizen
  • Individual kaizen or gemba kaizen

Five Principles of Gemba Kaizen

  1. When a problem/abnormality/opportunity occurs, go to gemba (the workplace) first
  2. Check with gembutsu like machines, equipment, tools, jigs, fixtures or rejects etc
  3. Take immediate or even temporary counter-measures on the spot
  4. Find out the root cause and remove the root cause of the abnormality
  5. Implement the solution and standardize to prevent further trouble/recurrence

Gemba Kaizen: Doctor and Patient Analogy (As enunciated by Shyam Bhatawdekar: copy right with the author)

  • Doctor attends to the illness/sickness of the patient immediately.
  • He never asks the patient, “come back to me later, we will see then (which often time happens in a business/industrial organization).
  • He immediately treats the patient and with limited and fresh of symptoms/causes, starts the treatment.
  • He may ask for more information (tests etc) but that information always is the most recent.
  • He finds out the real cause(s) (diagnosis) and administers the final treatment accordingly.

In gemba kaizen, it is more appropriate to follow this analogy for better and early results.

Gemba Kaizen: Operation Theater Analogy (As enunciated by Shyam Bhatawdekar: copy right with the author)

  • Patient’s sickness is determined by checking the patient based on the most recent information regarding the ailment (though some previous information may also be referred/gone through).
  • An earliest possible date is fixed for the operation (surgery).
  • Patient is brought to the operation theater.
  • All types of specialist doctors, nurses, paramedic staff etc (many of whom have not seen each other earlier) reach operation theater on the appointed time punctually.
  • They follow prescribed procedures and techniques which are understood by each and every body present there (and not present there but who are connected with the operation).
  • They are locked up in the operation room till the entire operation has been performed.

In gemba kaizen it is more appropriate to follow this analogy for better and speedy results.

Gemba Kaizen: Learn from Medical Profession (As enunciated by Shyam Bhatawdekar: copy right with the author)

  • Ascertain problem/opportunity.
  • Meet that problem/opportunity at the gemba (workplace) at the earliest possible time.
  • Measure the latest data/information available at the gemba (don’t say that we will look into it and come back at a later date or let us dig out the previous data/information etc).
  • Size up the problem/opportunity and quantify the possible benefits and they are your targets to be achieved.
  • It can be tackled individually or by a well selected and well trained cross functional group of experts from various fields.
  • Concerned people work on it together using the systems/procedures and techniques, work out the alternate solutions and implement them immediately.
  • They measure the results and continue following the above-mentioned steps (also find out the root level causes in the process) till they achieve the targeted results.

Innovations/Breakthroughs and Daily Continuous Improvements Through Gemba Kaizen

  • Innovations/breakthroughs are brought about in any organization occasionally or intermittently. There is a high jump in improvements. These high jump improvements are incorporated in the new practices/systems/processes.
  • Then, after one innovation/breakthrough, there may be a lull. During this lull period and in absence of daily management or continuous improvements through kaizen or gemba kaizen etc, these dramatically improved processes start degrading or deteriorating. And the processes become inefficient/ineffective. Lots of advantages of innovation disappear or are lost.
  • This is where daily management through continuous improvements comes in. It insists on daily performance and also, daily improvements. It keeps on maintaining and further improving the processes. The fall or degradation of processes is now just not possible.
    Therefore, daily management and daily improvements through kaizen, gemba kaizen, quality circles etc is in fact a management imperative. You cannot do without it (you may occasionally do without an innovation/breakthrough).
  • It may not be as stunning or exciting as an innovation, yet, effective daily management and daily improvements are the foundation on which maximization of advantages due to innovation and company viability firmly stay.

For More Guidance, Assistance, Training or Consultation


Also refer: (Prodcons Group)
(Training Programs by Prodcons Group)
(Productivity Consultants)

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