Continuous Improvement with Toyota Kata


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Toyota Kata provides insight into how the legendary automobile manufacturer created a culture of continuous improvement and adaptation. By aligning the efforts of the entire organisation behind the pursuit of a common vision and adopting a scientific method for process improvement, they established a way of handling dynamic, unpredictable situations while continuing to deliver value to their customers.

By adopting the simple patterns within Toyota Kata and by practicing them every day, it’s possible to break free from the tyranny of best practice and prescriptive frameworks and adopt a way of working which places you on the very edge of your abilities – where mistakes are made, and learning occurs…

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  • 1000 tiny fixesevery single process attended to every single day <> projects and workshopsconsultants study, to mimic and to codify their system.kata keeps Toyota in harmony with a rapidly changing environmentkata enables people to become skilled at problem solvingproblem solving is aligned to common goalsdescribe talk flow
  • First discovered kata in Belgium during 2010My immediate, lean/agile world went crazyHakan Forss Jim Benson, PKFlow, striving for improvement
  • for me, kata is mindsetEveryone kicked toyota’s tyres and looked under the bonnet no one bothered to check the oilflow rack storybeware of the tool headskata removes our dependency on other peoples solutions to other peoples problemskata encourages a long term viewKata asks employees to think, and to make decisions within the context of their own work, in pursuit of the organisational vision
  • arm foldingour subconscious controls one, our conscious the otherThrough kata people develop subconscious problem solving skillscontinually asking their people to assess and solve problems in their system of work1000 tiny fixes. 1 million a year.An entire workforce skilled at solving problems, in harmony with a constantly changing environmentNoCV – recruit someone who can deep practice, recruit mindset, learn through struggle
  • Struggling operating at the edge of your ability, makes you smarterPeople enter a goldilocks zone, attentive, hungry, focused – even desperatestaggering babies, learning to walkorganisations can grow in the same wayEvery single improvement is an experiment, an opportunity to succeed or fail
  • kata is about people & mind-setkata appeals directly to me, and has done since the first readingif you are going to challenge people, you need to know how they workpeople are challenged to reach their full potentialPeople will have a natural bias – challenge needs to be carefully judgedKata cuts to the core of the expectations I have of an organisationChallengingLearningDesire to strengthen its people
  • Deep practice needs coachesMaster Coaching means knowing where a particular individual is on their journey, to know the next leap that person needs to take and can take.Toyota practice this through something known as the Coaching KataManagement are focused not on the results – that isn’t the point – but focused on how the person went about solving the problemI haven’t discussed ignite too much. Deep practice requires huge amounts of energy, something that comes from a catalyst such as a coach. Belief in a vision perhaps?Lets begin exploring Toyota kata in more detail.
  • There are two kata – the improvement and the coaching katain consideration of a challenge / visionunderstand where you aredefine where you want to beand run experiments PDCA to get thererepeat forever
  • My personal bugbearNo one seems to care about vision. They are almost always shelf-ware, and rarely act as a direction giver to an organisationThere is a big difference between a vision which can trigger a primal cue, ignite a passion for challenge in someone, be a real true northLeaders need to embody that vision, and live it on a daily basisNo good having a vision which espouses quality, when as a leader you do nothing to remove impediments which block a team from producing quality workA vision needs to be lived, it needs to be breathed – people in the organisation need to recognise it in their leaders.
  • Deming's system of profound knowledge in many respects, with an attention to quality, to the system, and to people.Innovation, adaptation and long term thinking are built in1 million small fixes a year are testament to the fact this company lives and breathes its visionWithout a guiding vision, improvement opportunities are evaluated independently as opposed to in hot pursuit of something.
  • Poor form to try and improve something you do not understandEveryone needs to understand how information and “value” flowsA lot of managers are ignorantusing some lean tools can helpVanguard MethodAim / Customer DemandsVariation Capability / PerformanceFlowYour first few target conditions may well be to establish understanding.
  • we can now define, and begin taking steps towards your target stateA target state is NOT adopting best practiceA target state is about aspiring to better performanceImprovement Kata inspires adaptation, exploration and learning1-4 weeks in knowledge work world. Perhaps iteration length?Challenge – long way off – 1-2 years?
  • Develop a HypothesisExecute the hypothesisEvaluate the resultsstabilise the change, begin the cycle againAlways strive for an active experiment
  • These are referred to as the five coaching kata questions.When a coach asks these, it is not the outcome that is uppermost in their mind, but how they are thinking that is importantEveryone in the organisation has a coach – this is endemic across the organisation
  • How does this look in practice?I look after 6 agile delivery teams.The shape looks something like this:Everyone executes the improvement kataEveryone is aligned to the visionIteration manager asking the five questions of the delivery team membersDelivery manager asks the five questions of the iteration managerTarget conditions may be different
  • starting our journeystill striving for consensus on visioncheck back in a year and see where we are last step exposed frailty in previous PDCA cycle
  • 1000 tiny fixesDo not plan away uncertaintyDevelop the skills you need to subconsciously problem solveLearning to strive for more personally and professionally.
  • Continuous Improvement with Toyota Kata

    1. 1. continuous improvement with Toyota Kata try again. fail again. fail better. @waynerpalmer
    2. 2. available now from all good (and not so good) book stores for a low low price!
    3. 3. what is kata borrowing practices may provide some immediate gratification, but are a short term solution to a long term problem lean kata
    4. 4. attentive repetition builds skill Its not how fast you can do it, its how slow you can do it correctly. Ignition Deep Practice Talent
    5. 5. attentive repetition builds skill skills challenges anxiety boredom learning thru struggle There is no substitute for attentive repetition. Nothing you can do is more effective at building skill then executing the action
    6. 6. attentive repetition builds skill
    7. 7. attentive repetition builds skill Ignition Deep Practice Talent Master Coaching master coaches create and sustain motivation. they teach love of the subject, getting the learner captivated, desperate to learn more.
    8. 8. Improvement Kata the improvement kata is a way of achieving things you do not know how you are going to achieve vision challenge target condition current condition obstacles P D C A P D C A
    9. 9. Improvement Kata we are not in the business of making cars, we are in the business of making money Striving for a Vision
    10. 10. Improvement Kata survive long term as a company by improving and evolving how we make good products for the customer Striving for a Vision • zero defects • 100% value added • 1x1 continuous flow, on demand, to the customer • security for its people
    11. 11. you need to adequately understand the current condition in order to define an appropriate target condition. Improvement Kata
    12. 12. It matters more that you take a step, rather than what that first step is Current State Vision / Challenge Target State obstacles Improvement Kata do NOT plan or predict the journey
    13. 13. It is easier to set a target condition than it is to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work required to achieve it. Improvement Kata go and see Plan Do Study Act
    14. 14. • What is the target condition? • What is the actual condition now? • What obstacles are preventing you from reaching the target condition? Which one are you addressing now? • What is your next step? What do you expect? • When can we go and see what we have learned from that next step? Coaching Kata
    15. 15. delivery manager team leader awesome delivery team Software Delivery Team Kata
    16. 16. delighting customers through the innovative delivery of the right feature, at the right time, at the right price, and with the right level of quality. Current State Unknown Vision • Zero defects • 100% value added • Highest value first, on demand • Happy teams Target State Understand the Development Services system of work Last Step Understand the system of work which brings data to the staging area Next Step Understand the system of work which brings data to the atomic data store Next Check Tuesday 6th August 4pm Software Delivery Team Kata
    17. 17. continuous improvement Question Everything I know you wont believe me, but the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others