Advancing Knowledge

Six important points about Toyota Kata

Mike Rother touches on the Toyota Kata research and goes into the “why”.

He briefly overviews the two kata he identified so all of us can have the opportunity to develop a scientific thinking habit and a coaching habit.

1 What Toyota Kata is about

3 things:

  • a common way of efficiently working together
  • vital skill for now and tomorrow
  • a positive cultural attribute that can be developed through practice.

2 Toyota Kata is not about Toyota!

It is about the “less visible stuff”; about human beings and latent capability. It’s not about the “things” we’ve been imitating since the 1980’s. 

3 A pre-requisite for empowerment

Team Leaders, Supervisors and Managers developing adaptive and innovative people all heading toward common goals scientifically.

4 How to work

Managers resist “providing the answer”. (If the answer was “providable” then someone else is already doing it – that’s not innovative!) Instead leaders know how to work in order to get “there”.

5 Planning from the maximum point of uncertainty?

In essence the “plan” becomes a prediction (or a hypothesis). Adjustment then occurs all along the way based on what is learnt/discovered. (1:07)

6 “Resistance” is not hostility

Established habits will naturally be reverted to. Practising a new habit (through a “kata”) will, over time, replace an old habit. (1:51)

Toyota Kata and Training within Industry (TWI)

Practicing the Improvement Kata pulls the need for the three “J” skills of TWI.
A “pull system” describes a situation where what’s happening is only happening when the downstream “operation” needs it to be happening. Experimentation in step 4 of the Improvement Kata pulls in tools and skills. From time to time these skills will be Job Relations (JR), Job Instruction (JI) and Job Methods (JM). Further, as a whole, JR skills are synergistic with the Toyota Kata habits.

Agile and Toyota Kata

Did you know that ‘Agile’ began outside of IT? Further, Agile shouldn’t really be viewed as a methodology; it is a mindset, a set of behaviours.
With this in mind it is not surprising that a kata will be the best way to develop such behaviours. For good reason, the Toyota Kata patterns fit hand in glove with Agile.

Toyota Kata and TWI Simulation

A participatory simulation that helps you identify what capabilities your company needs to practice and develop.
It is much easier to communicate what to expect via experience and illustration as opposed to just ‘telling’. Our simulations fit well with the saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. You will better understand through what you see, say and do.

What is scientific thinking?

Scientific thinking is different to the ‘scientific method’.
The four steps of the Improvement Kata parallel a scientific approach. Further, at step 4 of the Improvement Kata – Experiment toward the Target Condition – the learner needs to be thinking scientifically. The Coaching Kata is a way of helping a person develop a ‘scientific thinking approach’ to improvement through small ‘obstacle addressing steps’ connected to what has just been learnt.

Unleashing Scientific Thinking Through the Meta-Pattern of the Improvement Kata

Scientific thinking can be a powerful driver of progress, a powerful driver of Lean; many applications exist including the Improvement Kata.
The Improvement Kata/Coaching Kata approach is a meta-pattern that gets us to use the reps we need to unleash any application of scientific thinking.