Toyota Kata is a term coined by Mike Rother in his book Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results. Kata is a Japanese word for a pattern practiced to learn a skill. It has been traditionally applied to the martial arts and now is taking root in organizations looking to advance their operations and management skills. Mike’s extensive research into Toyota’s management practices yielded unexpected discoveries that challenged how we traditionally thought about improvement, leading to the Toyota Kata movement.
Toyota Kata is gaining recognition as an essential missing link in the sustainability of a Lean business strategy and continuous improvement. It is an underlying element and reason for the success of the Toyota Production System (TPS). Kata embeds scientific thinking (PDCA plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust) into the fabric of the company.
Toyota Kata is a structured way to create a culture of continuous learning and improvement at all levels. It is an organization’s daily habits or routines forming its "muscle memory" for continuous learning and improvements. The daily habits/routines help companies strive towards their vision, in small focused experiments.
There are two Katas at work in an organization – the Improvement Kata and the Coaching Kata.
The Coaching Kata drives the Improvement Kata; it provides forward momentum. Coaches - usually managers, supervisors and team leaders - guide employees through a series of experiments in pursuit of moving from the current condition toward a target condition.
The Improvement Kata forms the continuous improvement habits of the method. The Improvement Kata guides the learners, the teams, through a four-step process focused on learning and improving their way of working.
The purpose of the Improvement Kata is to learn more about the organization’s processes and building the organization’s understanding of how work works. With this understanding and ability to learn, the organization can improve their way of working, in small focused experiments.
The Improvement Kata has four stages:
1. Understand the Direction
2. Grasp the Current Condition
3. Establish the Next Target Condition
4. PDCA (plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust) toward the Target Condition
The Improvement KATA in 10 Minutes - Mike Rother
The Role of Kata in LEAN- Mike Rother