Lean Six Sigma Bites: The Kata of Karate

The book 'Toyota Kata' by Mike Rother brings a fresh perspective of the idea of continous improvement. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Tetsuo-san, the last living disciple of Taiichi Ohno. Mr. Tetsuo Kondo personally learnt to implement TPS (or Lean) from Mr. Taiichi Ohno, the mastermind behind TPS. He made some interesting comments. He gave a big thumbs up to the book 'Managing to Learn: The A3 Process' by John Shook. He said it gave a much clearer understanding of what continuous improvement is truly about. He gave even more accolades to Mike Rothers book 'Toyota Kata'. It captures very closely the true essence of what Lean continuous improvement is about.

The word 'karate' comes from the word 'kata'. Kata can be thought of as a practiced routine set of actions that one has internalised, which become a habit, almost an unconscious way of doing things. Toyota kata is hence an internalised routine method of learning from trials, making adjustments that are necessary, and implementing the next improvement in moving from the current condition towards a target condition. It is the real Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) actions that allow us to continuously improve. However most of us have not deeply understood about this, and why it is so important. We do not realise that such 'kata' or routines can be and need to be built and used in our companies. This is the sesence of Lean Transformtaion or more accurately, Lean Thinking.

Therefore we urge you to consider this new development of building kata within our companies to sink in the PDCA continuous improvement habits and routines that enable comapnies to imrpove their purpose, people and processes on an on-going basis. We at Eagles Wings Consulting will look forward to working at our clients to train and develop their human resources to fully leverage the practices of Toyota kata as part of Lean or Lean Six Sigma implementation.

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