Book: Toyota Kata

I started reading the book Toyota Kata by Mike Rother and I read the first three chapters so far. He argues that the world has only looked at the visible aspects of Toyota, the processes, methods and principles. He stated that you should not look at those aspects, because the real explanation what makes Toyota so special is invisible. He refers to way of thinking and the routines that are normal at Toyota: the Kata’s. This is a Japanese term, normally used in martial arts for patterns that are repeated again and again into perfection. The book describes two Kata’s at Toyota:
  • The Improvement Kata
  • The Coaching Kata
If you get past his slightly arrogant introduction that he finally figured the real secret out, he offers a number of rich insights. He explains quite well how organizations keep repeating the same mistake when they want to change something: they fall in the blind implementation mode. The consequence is that they try to make the change process as predictable as possible. We find it hard to accept the fact that organizational development is an inherently unpredictable process.

It is the art to release the urge to want to control what changes at what moment (I recognize that this can be difficult). It is the art to continuously adjust the direction based on new insights. In an implementation mode, there are unpredictable events and problems that distract you from your goal. But those unexpected events are always there. How many time is spend on making plans and how much time is spend on explaining why they are not implemented as planned?

A wise strategy would accept the inherent unpredictability of development processes and would seek strength in the adaptive capacity of the organization. You need some method that provides the needed confidence that good progress will be made. And that method is often lacking as one falls back into the implementation mode.

He states it is exactly the ‘Improvement Kata’ and ‘Coaching Kata’ that enable Toyota to adapt adequately. Rother described how Toyota makes improvement very specific in three conditions:
1. Current condition
2. Target condition
3. True North

True North is deliberately vague and unattainable. It is about the principles that you set above everything. Such as one-piece-flow. Toyota will never attain full one-piece-flow, but she tries to get closer to the ideal situation step by step. Toyota even has sessions where they discuss what they will offer the world for the next 500 years. They end this type of session with what the outcome implies for the next steps they have to take tomorrow. The result of the session 500 years has a shelf life of one day. The goal is not to predict the future, but to get you out of your comfort zone and the essence is to better determine the next step.

The current condition is how the process works now, what you see when you are filming the process. The target condition describes the following situation that the process will reach on its journey to True North.

Is this different than what we are used to? The target condition is based on a thorough understanding of the current condition. It’s a concrete step forward, not an ambitious objective. However, it can be very difficult to achieve.
A simple example: in the laboratory of our hospital tubes of the another hospital are also processed. In our hospital and in the other hospital the same racks are used to place the tubes in. The carrier operates with a type of cooler in which other types of racks are placed. So the other hospital must transfer each individual tube in the cooler and we have to do this again from the cooler to our own racks. The leading analyst of the laboratory appointed this waste and set the target condition that the process must be improved so that no transferring of tubes is needed anymore. To determine which target conditions must be set, True North is guiding. If it is a step forward towards True North, then that direction is chosen. If not, then not. The way a step towards True North is made is thus the Improvement Kata. 
The Coaching Kata is the way managers at Toyota coach people to apple the Improvement Kata. Once a target condition is stated for example often people tend to explain why it is not possible: the carrier in the example works for many other organizations and will never replace its coolers and racks for us?!

The manager coaches people to deeply investigate what the root cause of the problem is. Which assumptions hinder creative countermeasures? He coaches the improvement and learning process.

Improvement must be seen as something you need to exercise, like a team of top athletes who are coached to perform better every time. That is the main task of an executive at Toyota.

Clear and appealing book so far, I'm curieus how he will elaborate further on the Kata’s.

P.S. My gratitude goes to Nieki Peerbooms for translating my Dutch blog

Geen opmerkingen: