What is "gemba"? I've heard folks around my place of employment discussing gemba walks and standard work. I asked one of them what it meant and they just answered that it was some Chinese or Japanese thing.......
I first encountered the term gemba over ten years ago from our marketing department. They were doing customer and product research utilizing Quality Function Deployment (QFD). They talked about the value and insight they obtained from their “gemba visits”. They made arrangements with our customers to observe them using our products (in this case it was watching them mow grass). More recently, the term gemba is being used by the folks that perform the assessments of our production system (over the past two years the Deere Production System and the Deere Product Quality System were the subject of our section’s monthly meetings). We are transitioning from an assessment where presentations are made to the assessment team to where the assessor goes to the site (shop floor) to make their assessment. They “go see” the processes and talk to the operators.
This is what the web site gemba.com has to say:
Gemba is the Japanese word for "actual place" and in business terms it is where you create value for your customers through daily work. Gemba is the place to go for improvement.
I find that many translations from Japanese (just the words) do not convey the full meaning – and several translation sources help me understand it better. Run gemba on your favorite search engine (i.e. Google, Yahoo) for more understanding.
I think you could also consider calling our section program meeting business tours “gemba.” A purest may not consider them true gemba, but the spirit is similar.