Unlock the full potential of your business with Toyota Kata

Toyota Kata is an innovative tool that businesses can use to take their improvement journey to the next level. It’s a unique way to manage business operations, inspired by Toyota’s successful implementation of lean. 

There are two foundational concepts to Toyota Kata:

  • Improvement Kata - a systematic and scientific way to think and act. Don’t believe everything you see, test it out! Thinking scientifically means continually testing out hypotheses and conducting experiments to find what drives development forward. The goal is not to come up with an end solution; it’s to continuously think one step ahead. We’re here now – how do we move forward?
  • Coaching Kata - unlock and use the full potential of every employee. The idea is not to provide definitive solutions for every challenge that your company faces. Instead, you must teach employees how to solve the challenges themselves. It’s about creating an environment where all employees feel engaged and able to share possible solutions. Your company already has the potential – you just have to light the spark. 

The word Kata is derived from the Japanese fighting sport, Karate. The concept describes a process, where a karate practitioner repeats the same move until it become as natural to them as breathing. Likewise, the goal is for the improvement practices and scientific approach of Toyota Kata to become just as natural. The entire company should live and breathe lean. 

How do I implement improvement kata?

To implement improvement kata, businesses should follow these steps:

  • Understand where you’re headed and where the challenge is located along your path For example, use a storyboard to visualize a desired future outcome. 
  • Understand how the current situation looks. Conduct a “Current condition analysis”. Map out the demand versus production, etc. 
  • Set a goal. Decide what you want to accomplish and set a timeframe for when that goal will be accomplished. Create an “obstacle parking lot” where you list all the obstacles you can see in front of you. 
  • Start experimenting and see what gets you closer to the goal. Document every step in the experiment and reflect on the results.  

How do I implement Coaching Kata?

Implementing Coaching Kata means teaching and empowering your employees to think scientifically. This method is quick and simple. It requires you, “the coach”, to speak with “the learner” on a regular basis, asking questions to make their thought process apparent, which in turn allows you to give advice and feedback accordingly. For example: 

  • What is the goal?
  • What does the situation look like right now? And how did we get here?
  • What’s stopping us from achieving that goal? And are there any obstacles that you can work on overcoming right now?
  • What is the next step? And what expectations do you have? 
  • What can we learn from that next step? And when will we learn it? 

It’s not too different from coaching a sports team. You can’t be on the field with the players or tell them exactly how to win the game. Your job is to teach the players to think of solutions so that they feel empowered to overcome any obstacles during the game.

Why should I implement Toyota Kata?

Continuously improving a business and getting the changes to stick aren’t the simplest tasks. Visual Lean tools make an excellent first step. But to really drive it home and truly create a “Lean company culture”, you have to change the way you and your business thinks – Toyota Kata is your key to success.

Mevisio’s role in implementing a digital Kata approach

Does Kata work digitally? Yes, Toyota Kata works digitally if it’s done with the purpose of making things easier for both the coach and the learner. Mevisio lets you:

  • Draw a clear connection between the overarching goals and strategies of the company, so that your efforts with Kata are always focused on what’s most important.
  • Organize and manage improvement efforts using PDCA.
  • Document experiments, for example, by taking pictures with your phone and sharing them via Mevisio.
  • Share information and get others involved.
  • Use digital storyboards to visualize everything. 
  • Take note of obstacles using an obstacle parking lot.

To sum it all up, Mevisio makes it easier than ever to share information within the company and follow up on results from experiments, which in turn simplifies the Kata method. The platform is also fully customizable, so you can adapt it to the way your company works. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Find out more about Mevisio and continuous improvement here.

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