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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.


“If people on your team don’t trust your intent it will be difficult to make progress. Further, relationships are the foundation of accomplishment, the stronger the relationship the better the accomplishment. TWI JR is a means of developing the skill of building trust.”

Dave Hyem, Site Director Boeing Seattle

In practicing the Improvement Kata the pathway between the goal or challenge and the current condition is intersected by target conditions. Target conditions are reached through striving to remove obstacles via experimentation. This striving is done by the learner, the “doer”, who is coached along the way, ideally by their manager.

It will be a lot easier to reach target conditions (and thus goals) if the “doer” trusts the intent. It’s hard to imagine them striving if there’s little trust. The Toyota Kata habits will be far more likely to get traction beyond the initial practise if the skills of Job Relations are being practised by managers. This includes senior management who set the challenge or goal and ideally periodically observe the coaching and striving at the coalface.

The Toyota Kata habits fit fair and square into some of the JR Foundations. For example “Figure out what you expect of the person” (JR sub-foundation) fits nicely with step 3 of the Improvement Kata – Establish your Next Target Condition. The Coaching Kata will surely locate opportunities to “point out ways to improve” (a second JR sub-foundation).

The “pull” mentioned at the beginning of this article comes in at step 4 of the Improvement Kata – Conduct experiments to get there.

Generally speaking we find there are three categories of obstacles that surface when striving for target conditions through experimentation:

  • Doesn’t know how, can’t do.
  • Don’t care; won’t do.
  • Physical: hard to do.

Toyota Kata and Training within Industry (TWI) -

The three TWI “J” skills are countermeasures to these three obstacles.

In order to get to “knows, can do” from “doesn’t know, can’t do” training is required. JI is a proven training skill very effective in getting a person to the point of “knows, can do”.

“Won’t do” or “not doing” (often coming from “doesn’t care enough”) is sometimes misinterpreted as a training need. But if the person does know and can do, then all the training in the world probably won’t change their decision to “not do”. What is required is the skill of leading. JR is a way of developing the skill of leading. We saw an excellent example of this at a manufacturer in Pennsylvania practising Toyota Kata. All shifts knew what was required of them, they “knew and could do” the modified task, but only day shift were doing it. JR skills were required in order to get all three shifts doing the modified task.

In order to get to “the best way we know of today” the obstacle of “physical: hard to do” requires an improvement skill. JM is a practical method to help produce greater quantities of quality products in less time by making the best use of resources now available. Step 1 of JM (break down the job) can also contribute effectively to Improvement Kata step 2, Grasp the current condition.

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