Toyota Kata

Starting this month we are publishing a monthly article on a continuous improvement topic, with an accompanying resources page with resources, videos, and tools to support it. This month’s topic is Toyota Kata (TK) and the Scientific Thinking principles that lie beneath its improvement and coaching routines.

Included in this article, and accompanying Toyota Kata Resources Page we hope you will bookmark, is a plethora of Toyota Kata information (PDFs, videos, articles, and podcasts) where we address what Toyota Kata, and Scientific Thinking, is all about including the back story and research that went into its formation.

But, to start things off I’d like to share a personal story of how Toyota Kata and Scientific Thinking has changed my life for the better.

Learning to See Like many lean thinkers the year 1999 was a major turning point in my professional career as Mike Rother’s Learning to See (LTS) book was published.

To be sure, there are many lean resources and books that formed me into the lean thinker I am today. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Learning to See helped me lead more positive change than any other publication.

In fact, Gemba Academy must tip its hat to Learning to See since we launched our company, in March of 2009, with a 12-video value stream mapping course that was heavily influenced by what I learned from this book.

As my corporate career continued I kept learning as much as I could about all forms of continuous improvement. This eventually lead me to the deep understanding of how important the human side of continuous improvement is. All of this experience definitely helped with the formation of Gemba Academy. But, my oh my, did I still have much to learn.

Where Do I Start?

In the early days of our company, one of the most common questions we received centered around where our customers should start. To be sure, with more than 1,000 videos in our library knowing where to start can be a daunting endeavor.

Our initial response to this question was our own question - what problem are you trying to solve? This was better than nothing and it did help. But, deep inside our core, we knew this response was insufficient. We knew there had to be a better way to navigate the continuous improvement journey.

Where Is Your Kata? When Mike Rother published Toyota Kata in 2009 I bought and read it. But, for whatever reason I didn’t immediately give it the attention it deserved… probably because we were in the throws of starting a brand new company!

But, as fate would have it, my slow start with Toyota Kata wouldn’t last long. You see, a few more years into Gemba Academy’s journey we began to field another question. People wanted to know where our Toyota Kata content was.

Ron Pereira