Reflections on Toyota Kata

Posted by on Jan 9, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I recently finished reading a book by Mike Rother, called Toyota Kata. It is probably the best book I have read in some time concerning Toyota’s process for continuous improvement and I learned a lot about being more effective in implementing lean and continuous improvement. I will share with you some of my more important learnings over my next few blog postings.

Many organizations make plans for continuous improvement, set targets and try to close gaps. These same organizations are often frustrated when targets are not met, gaps are not closed and change does not take place. The obvious people to blame is management because they are the ones running the show. But will replacing those managers and leaders make a difference. Probably not!
The problem lies in how we manage our organizations. We read about how Toyota has implemented lean, take courses on how to implement the tools and techniques, and then become frustrated when we don’t get the results we expect. Evidence over the past 20 years indicates that trying to copy another company’s tools, techniques or principles does little to change an organization’s culture, its way of doing things.
Rother’s book describes two particular behavior routines, habits or patterns of thinking and conducting oneself, that are practiced every day at Toyota. In Japan these routines are called kata and they are how Toyota leads and manages its people. The first is the improvement kata and the second is the coaching kata. These two kata are taught to all Toyota employees and are a big part of what makes the company successful at continuous improvement.
I will discuss these further in my next postings.

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