The Toyota Kata

As organizations design and deploy their internal Lean Enterprise business systems, it is imperative that they focus on making continuous improvement part of everyone’s daily work. They can effectively accomplish this by utilizing a concept known as “The Toyota Kata.”  Having been experienced leaders within the Toyota organization, we at Incito have captured our insights into the Toyota Management and Production System by coaching our clients in the art of “The Toyota Kata.”

Let’s Reflect on What the Toyota Kata Is

Traditionally, organizations have attempted to deploy a Lean Transformation through a series of Lean workshops focused on tools, by leveraging an internal team of “experts.” The challenge with this model is that a cultural conflict begins to emerge that distinguishes Lean workshops from daily management. When a clean line of demarcation is presented in this fashion, the Lean journey tends to be perceived as just another thing to worry about, and tends to fall to the wayside.

Is There a Solution?

  • What if we could effectively integrate our Lean Transformation efforts into our actual daily management?
  • What if we had a standardized methodology to coach and improve?
  • What if our Continuous Improvement System was truly continuous?
  • What if our Continuous Improvement efforts were directly aligned with our organization’s True North Vision?

The Toyota Kata is an ideal next step solution for those who are not satisfied with their current Continuous Improvement Process. The Toyota Kata is a true management system that, unlike other deployment models, does NOT focus simply on Lean tools, but focuses on effectively increasing the organization’s practical problem solving ability while consistently focusing and aligning with your organization’s True North Vision.

This can only be accomplished by developing and optimizing behaviors that enable the entire organization to embrace continuous daily improvement as a habit, rather than a project or a program.

The Key Elements of the Coaching Kata and the Improvement Kata

Coaching Kata

Step 1- Coaching before Target Condition is set

  • Focus on understanding the long term direction as well as the current condition
  • Set an effective and challenging next target condition

Step 2- Coaching after Target Condition is set
Ensure coaching and understanding of the five questions:

  1. What is the target condition?
  2. What is the actual condition now?
  3. What obstacles are now preventing you from reaching the target condition and which one are you addressing now?
  4. What is your next step?
  5. When can we go and see what we have learned from taking that step?

Step 3- Coaching Practical Problem Solving, A3 Report Writing, and Leadership Behaviors

  • Facilitate process to effectively populate A3 documentation that includes all relevant information required to clearly communicate and tell a story about the subject matter
  • Facilitate a Practical Problem Solving process that answers the question: “What are we attempting to do and why; what problem are we trying to solve?”

Step 4- KPI Validation and Scorecard Design

  • Coach leaders on how to effectively measure what matters by conducting Key Performance Indicator Validation analysis against business objectives and overall vision

Improvement Kata

Step 1- Understand the Direction or Challenge (Strategic Alignment)

  • Assess and understand the True North direction of the organization or facility, utilizing existing future state maps, a Hoshin Matrix, Strategy Deployment Plans and overall master schedule,

Step 2- Grasp the Current Condition

  • Coach organization on understanding the current condition by going deeper than the superficial level through scientific thinking
  • Facilitate effective Gemba “go and see” process in an effort to grasp the current condition
  • Facilitate Ohno Circle activity that instills waste identification as well as deep reflection on current condition (Hansei)

Step 3- Establish the Next Target Condition

  • Coach participants on effective setting of target conditions that describes both the outcome and process. This should be attainable and achieved in 1-3 months.
  • Implement PCDA cycle storyboard published on a large bulletin board as close as possible to the process work area
  • Coach participants on how to iterate toward the target condition through effective PDCA Cycle process
  • Coach participants on how to prioritize and follow the “Know 5, Focus on 3, Fix 1” process

Step 4 – Iterate Toward the Target Condition

  • PDCA Experiments (Short Iterations, Go and See, Focus on Learning)
  • Coach participants on how to establish an initial hypothesis
  • Coach participants on the effective design of quick and agile experiments
  • Coach participants on how to determine an expected outcome (detail A3)
  • Coach participants on how to effectively document and articulate actual outcomes
  • Coach participants to effectively conduct the Hansei process to capture lessons learned
  • Coach participants on how to sustain and institutionalize improvements once the target condition is met

Is Toyota Kata the Right Solution for You?

  1. Does your Continuous Improvement Journey align with your organization’s True North Vision?
  2. Have you been on the Continuous Improvement Journey for several years, (Lean, Six Sigma, Daily Improvement, etc.)?
  3. Are the results of your journey satisfactory?
  4. Have the impacts been sustainable?
  5. Is this practiced by everyone, everyday (i.e. is it embedded in your DNA)?

If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” consider enlisting the help of an experienced Toyota Kata consultant like Incito. We work with you to transform every aspect of your business to ensure effective alignment between your Lean Enterprise Transformation and your daily management processes.

Receive world-class coaching and make Continuous Improvement part of everyone’s daily work.  Connect with us today to learn more.