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This is Toyota Kata

Increase Adaptability With Toyota Kata

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Develop Improved Problem Solving With Improvement And Coaching Kata

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Innovation Engine With The Management Kata

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Practise Toyota Kata and grow an organic learning organisation that converts the uncertainty of our time into a source for innovation.

The Kata School can suit you with everything you need to make daily continuous improvement a habit.

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Excerpt of the Toyota KATA research

There are perhaps only three things we can and need to know with certainty: where we are, where we want to be, and by what means we should maneuver the unclear territory between here and there. And the rest is supposed to be somewhat unclear, because we cannot see into the future! The way from where we are to where we want to be next is a gray zone full of unforeseeable obstacles, problems, and issues that we can only discover along the way. The best we can do is to know the approach, the means, we can utilize for dealing with the unclear path to a new desired condition, not what the content and steps of our actions—the solutions—will be. — Mike Rother, Toyota Kata (2009), page 8

Mike Rother discovered during his research a fundamental pattern of behaviour and action among Toyota leaders that enables employees to combine their creativity with a scientific mindset. Mike asked himself how other companies could develop similar routines and mindsets, which eventually led to the so-called Starter Kata, the Improvement and Coaching Kata.

Since then, Scientific Thinking and developing habits became a core aspect in many recent books and studies. “The Toyota Way 2nd Edition“- By Jeffrey K. Liker, “Think Again” – By Adam Grant, “Atomic Habits” – By James Clear or “Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies” – By Matthias Gross, to name a few.

With the growing awareness that we live in a fragile and complex world. The question is no longer whether we need to have the capacity to be more scientific and experiment with new ideas, but whether we can build sufficient capacity in time.

The Starter Kata are a timely and practical approach to increasing these capacities.

FAQ

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What does KATA mean?
Kata is a Japanese term for "a way of doing something" or, as described in traditional Japanese martial arts, movement patterns practised either alone or in pairs. Consistently repeating these patterns form a new habit of acting.
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What makes the KATA scientific?
Each step in the model of the Improvement Kata corresponds to the pattern we follow in professional science. The main difference is - that while professional science is more about dealing with things that already exist - the Improvement Kata is more about mastering a challenge - a practical everyday science, so to speak. In both cases, we observe something, ask questions, formulate a hypothesis, and conduct experiments. We analyze data and facts, compare them with our expectations and form conclusions from which new theories may emerge. Both approaches are empirical, provoke logical thinking and provide us, among other things, with a healthy dose of scepticism.
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What are Starter KATA?
Starter Kata are simple predefined and structured exercises that we use at the beginning to promote more scientific thinking through deliberate practice. They help us get familiar with this new way of doing and enable teams and organizations – also without previous knowledge of scientific thinking - to develop a common way of thinking, speaking, and acting. There are Starter Kata for the Improvement Kata and for the Coaching Kata. The path is to practise these Starter Kata as a bridge to act more scientifically and leaving them once we have internalized them.
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Are KATA similar to solution focused practises?
Indeed, there are similarities with creative thinking, critical thinking, learning organization theory, design thinking, systems thinking and even evidence-based learning. The difference, however, is that the Kata are intentional practices and exercises in which we create new neural pathways through daily practice, and therefore we are not dealing with a tool in the aftermath.
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What do I get out of practising KATA?
The frequent practise leaves us with a new meta-skill that we can apply to all sorts of situations. Here a few examples: 1) Enhanced adaptivity in increasingly complex and dynamic markets. 2) Boundary conditions in which true daily continuous improvement becomes a part of our business. 3) Increased likelihood that we discover innovations through improved problem-solving abilities. 4) A 21th-century compatible management method that includes an organic way to build a learning organization. 5) The ability to learn new skills more rapidly. 6) Find unique solutions to unique challenges
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What is the Improvement KATA?
The Improvement Kata is a four steps pattern, the key to practice scientific thinking and overcoming challenging goals. In step one, we try to understand the challenge or direction we want to move. In step two, we want to understand the landscape, the current condition we are in right now. In step three, we set ourselves a target condition, comparable with a stage finish on a long journey. In step four, we try to understand our immediate blockers and experiment with ideas to make our way around these obstacles and to reach our stage finish in a short period of time.
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What is the Coaching KATA?
The Coaching Kata is a set of routines to coach a learning improver in applying the means of the Improvement Kata. These are not general coaching routines but specific routines to improve one's own coaching skills and thus provide a better learning experience for the improver. A common error is to think that the Coach is no longer improving or learning, but in fact, the Coach is both; learning and improving every day.
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Do I really need a Coach?
We are all quite biased creatures. Especially when we leave our comfort zone and hit our own knowledge threshold. When we learn something new that is truly challenging, we tend to fall back into old patterns and habits quickly. Unfortunately, this is our autopilot, the neuronal pathways we have developed most in the past. You get what you repeat. If we really want to learn something new and don't want to fool ourselves, we need someone at our side whose greatest interest is that we succeed. If you don't see it that way, you may get trapped quickly and become a part of the Dunning Kruger Club. So ask yourself, do you really want to remain the eternal beginner?
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Can anyone become a Coach?
This depends more on how well we have internalized the Improvement Kata. In principle, nothing should stop us from beginning to coach quickly. For example, when you ask your partner, a friend or colleague, and you simply want to take the first steps. However, we have observed at least two kinds of phenomena over time, which indicate that someone does not have enough competencies to coach somebody else to success. A) The permanent beginner phenomenon, which occurs when someone tends to overconfidence and thus degrades the learner's learning experience. B) The implementer phenomenon, which occurs when someone has not understood the means of the Kata and instead tries to implement the Starter Kata as a tool. Based on these phenomena, not every person, manager or leader is suitable as a coach. Does this mean everyone has to spin helplessly in circles forever? No! Get a well trained and experienced Second Coach—someone who can significantly improve your coaching skills.
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What is the role of a Second Coach?
When we just started our Kata journey, we are typically at a beginner level. The role of the Second Coach is to help us to improve our coaching skills significantly in a short time. Therefore a second coach usually observes coaching cycles and reflects on observations together with the beginner coach. The Second Coach may provide helpful feedback, develops learning targets with the beginner coach and improves the art of asking coaching questions. The challenge for the beginner coach is to improve the learning experience for the improver as a whole and to accelerate the knowledge-creating organisation. If not already an integral part of your learning environment, a Second Coach is typically an experienced external Kata Trainer and Coach.
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How does KATA match with Lean or Agile?
Generally speaking, the Kata can be understood as a kind of enabler or centre for many practices and methods. They are routines that enable us to learn a more scientific way of thinking and acting. This itself is a fundamental way of thinking and from which many methods, tools and models have emerged in the past. Imagine this: We observe some kind of a phenomenon and begin to ask ourselves questions. What is this? How does it work? How does it connect to other phenomena I discovered recently? As soon as we observe phenomena over time, gather facts and data, new theories, models, practices, and tools emerge. You may ask yourself what you think has led to inventions in the past, if not our innate curiosity, our desire to explore the world and experiments with our ideas.
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Can I practise KATA as a standalone solution method?
The Kata and Starter Kata are not a solution method; they are more an enabler to learn a scientific way of thinking. You can add scientific thinking to any other known method or make it the focus or a starting point for a learning organisation. That said, what is your immediate challenge? Maybe just give it a try.
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Can I practise KATA in a private context?
Of course, you can. You can find many videos and blog posts of people using the Starter Kata to learn new things. For example, how about people learning to play music instruments or improving their golfing? There are families learning to keep their house tidy and communities improving our environment. Maybe we are only limited by our imagination.
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What is the KATA code?
1.) Conditions are unpredictable. 2.) Enjoy the learning zone. 3.) Understand the direction, grasp the current conditions, establish a target condition, experiment toward the target condition. 4.) Beginners practise Starter Kata exactly. 5.) Be a coach, have a coach.

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