Summary of Toyota Kata

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Toyota Kata book summary

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If you have ever trained in martial arts, you may be familiar with “kata,” the term for a routine or pattern that improves your practice. Based on this approach, Toyota created a routine that supports continuous improvement. Engineer and continuous improvement expert Mike Rother explains that “improvement kata” and “coaching kata” form the invisible bonds that make Toyota successful. He explains essential improvement concepts like “PDCA” and “mentor-mentee dialogue” in detail, complete with case histories and examples. His text is dense, yet easy enough to digest if your background is in manufacturing. Fortunately, he loves schematic figures and explanatory drawings and they help guide the way. getAbstract recommends Rother’s insights to leaders in manufacturing eager to explore behavioral patterns and techniques that go beyond the known Lean Manufacturing toolkit.

About the Author

Engineer, researcher and teacher Mike Rother worked with Toyota on continuous improvement, and affiliates with the University of Michigan and other research institutions.


“Toyota Kata”

Toyota is a profitable, competitively successful company that applies certain practices and values for success. A layer of invisible tools, routines and management techniques drives Toyota’s continuous improvement journey.

These routines helped Toyota cross “unclear territory” and move from where it was to where it wanted to be. To make that leap, Toyota came up with a set of procedural sequences called Toyota Kata that it repeats frequently to reach the results it wants. In Japanese, “kata” stands for “patterns” or “routines.” You can also translate kata as “a way of keeping two things in alignment.” Toyota Kata has two parts: an “improvement kata” and a “coaching kata.”

Approaches to “Process Improvement”

Your firm may be using workshops, “value-stream mapping” and to-do lists as tools to address process improvement. However, a three-day workshop seldom provides the desired work-process results. Using value-stream maps doesn’t improve processes; it just shows you where your end-to-end process harbors improvement potential. The list of pending actions is another flawed tool, since the number of open items...

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