Anti-Pattern: Gemba Surrogate

Gemba is a critical tool in organizational improvement. However, Gemba gets often replaced by incomparably less efficient “surrogates”, such as:

  • Cross-functional planning
  • Cross-team or cross-level synchronization events
  • Demo
  • Metrics that come from engineers (ex: burn-downs, CFD charts, defect rates, etc.)

While some of these, depending on circumstances, may look and feel a lot like Gemba, it has one significant difference: it lacks deep context that is available to knowledge workers only in real time. “Forced” events, such as planning, synchronization, demo and others, while helpful overall, are no substitute for Gemba and should not be confused with it.