Category Archives: People Development

Shifting the Learning Zone

A client and fellow lean learner today shared a cool extension of the Toyota Kata model for establishing target conditions. Mike Rother’s Improvement Kata Handbook establishes a couple of key concepts about where a target condition should be set. The key is that the target should be somewhere beyond the learner’s knowledge threshold: The knowledge […]

Kaizen vs. Kaizen “Events”

I got an interesting email from a friend a while ago, and am finally finishing up this post about it. Some months ago, he joined a new company and wrote about his impressions of some of the legacy he was walking into: [before my arrival, the company] used Xxxxxx consultants to get their Lean effort […]

PDCA, A3 and Practical Problem Solving

Over the years, I have been party to at least three corporate-level efforts to bring “A3” or “Practical Problem Solving” into their toolbox. Sometimes it has other names, such as “Management by Fact” or such, but the approaches are all similar. Typically these efforts, if they catch on at all, become exercises in filling out […]


Past Due Hours This area was picked for the initial focus because they were way, way behind, and it was getting worse. The initial work was done in mid-April. The target was consistent output at takt time. As the team looked at the process, and identified the sources of disruption and variation, “changeovers” surfaced pretty […]

Pronouns of Ownership

As we push line leaders to the forefront of being the “continuous improvers” I am learning to listen to their language about problems. I My Me We Our Vs. He / She Him / Her His / Hers You Your They Them Their Who owns the problem or removing the obstacle? The “first person” group […]

Policy Deployment and the Coaching Chain

Gosh, I guess it is a couple of weeks ago now (I’ve been up to my eyeballs in work), Gerd Aulinger posted this presentation up on the Lean Enterprise Institute’s “Kata” page: I’m obviously interested in your comments as I had some amount of input into the final product. For that, I would ask that […]

Mike Rother Overview of Toyota Kata

This is a 5 minute edit of the presentation Mike Rother made at the UK Lean summit. It is a succinct summary of interaction between a coach (leader) and learner (someone working on improving a process). My thoughts are below the video… OK – here are some things I have learned with these methods “in […]

Constraints Push Innovation

This Ted Talk by Amos Winter is about a fantastic project to develop an inexpensive, rugged, rough-terrain wheelchair for people in countries with much less infrastructure than we take for granted in the U.S. and Europe. Though they didn’t follow the traditional “3P” approach, their project did reveal a few key elements. More below the […]

Version 12.0 of the Toyota Kata Handbook

As of about 12:30 Pacific 11/4 there have been a couple of revisions, so be sure to download the latest. Mike Rother has released Version 12.0 of the Toyota Kata handbook on his website. The handbook, over the last few iterations, has become much more pragmatic (and practical). The information about the coaching process is […]

Obstacles vs. Lists of Tools

I have been noticing a significant linguistic difference between those who still embrace the “implement the tools” paradigm, and a much smaller (but growing) group are are adopting the PDCA thinking structure as a framework for everything else. It comes down to how a problem is stated. We were looking at an operation with a […]