The Toyota Kata Solution and The Lean Journey

As a manager or executive who has been tasked with the continuous improvement of an organization, you’re probably familiar with the obstacles inherent in adaptation to a new mindset among team members.

Having trouble with change and adapting away from one’s current condition is a human trait—we like what we like and often don’t see why change is for the better.

Nevertheless, despite our human instinct to be anti-adaptation and change, the business world is shifting and developing environment; if you want to stay ahead and see superior results, continuous improvement and change are necessary. Any organization that wants a competitive advantage should aspire to cultivate a Lean mindset. That is to say; your target condition should be one of a streamlined, efficient organization that is providing products or services without waste. To do that, it’s wise to adopt a holistic approach, one that brings all team members and management into the mix. If the idea of a holistic Lean Journey piques your curiosity, read on to learn how the Toyota Kata methodology may be the way to go.

Toyota Kata: A Holistic Lean Tool

The idea of streamlining an organizational process is not a new one. Business advice has long centered around making processes more efficient to maximize profits, and adopting Lean tools is often one of the ways executives take a complex system and simplify it. Even when managers and executives try to encourage new habits and methodologies, the Lean practices that they introduce may fall out of use.

Toyota Kata offers a new way to think about introducing Lean tools into your current practice routine. Using the Toyota Kata method, your whole organization will be practicing new habits—from the most part-time employee to the top executive. It’s so much more than just a series of workshops about Lean practices. By involving leadership in the entire process and viewing the organization as a whole as a part of the current condition, you’ll anticipate obstacles. You will be more agile when managing unclear territory you may encounter.

From Your Current Condition to Your Target Condition

To reach your target condition (or, indeed, the next target condition after that), you first need to describe your current condition in great detail. This is true whether you’re engaging in the process of Coaching Kata or Improvement Kata. Both of these versions of the Kata journey can and will lead to a company-wide improvement process, although Improvement Kata builds new habits in a more detailed manner.

Think of this as drawing a map to your preferred destination; you need to understand where you’re at before taking the next step towards a new situation. You’ll learn through practicing Kata is a form of solution focus that takes even the most challenging goal and faces it head-on. Instead of throwing as many solutions at the obstacle as possible, it’s wiser to do things the Kata way. This means implementing techniques of deliberate practice and scientific thinking to work smarter, not harder. Your team members will learn that they should start with a clear hypothesis that they can test once they’ve identified the current condition. By applying scientific thinking to the obstacle at hand, your whole company will be addressing challenges in a meaningful way, free of bluster and full of purpose.

Behavior Patterns and a New Mindset

It takes time to truly take on new information and reset your neural pathways to use new skills as though they were second nature. As a result, if your team members are beginners in Kata methodology, it may be a little while before you see positive results. Bear in mind that even a small step in the right direction is better than ten steps in the wrong direction. Stick to the daily work of deliberate practice and applying a scientific method to the obstacles at hand. You’ll see yourself developing an effective routine that makes a measurable difference to your business growth.

Contact Incito Consulting Group

Learn more about Toyota Kata workshops and training courses when you contact us at 866-697-LEAN or send us a message online. You may want to take advantage of our Lean Six Sigma Consulting services or value stream mapping workshop, which will help you get the most out of all your processes.

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