Category Archives: People Development

The Improvement Kata PDCA Cycles Record

The improvement kata has four major steps: Those steps provide a structured pattern to enable consistent practice until they are unconscious and natural. In the fourth step, “Iterate Toward the Target Condition” we have a form, called the PDCA Cycles Record that provides an additional level of structure for the improver / learner and the […]

How Do You Measure Toyota Kata?

I’ve run into a couple of cases where there is an initiative from a corporate continuous improvement team to “implement Toyota Kata.” Aside from trying to proscribe each and every step of the way (which runs counter to the entire point of discovering the solution – “you omitted step 7b”), they also expect reports of […]

Output vs. Takt Time

The team’s challenge is to reach steady output of 180 units per hour. Their starting condition was about 150 per hour. Their equipment and process is theoretically capable of making the 180 per hour with no problem. They calculated their takt time (20 seconds) and established a planned cycle time of 17 seconds. Some time […]

The Myth of 10,000 Hours

In this TEDx talk, Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours outlines his theory of learning a new skill. One of his key points is the prevailing belief that you must spend 10,000 hours practicing a skill to become good at it. This equates to over 5 years of practice 8 hours a day, […]

“What You Could Improve” Isn’t The Answer

In fact, suggestions on what to improve aren’t an appropriate answer when it’s the question. Sometimes on discussion forums I see a practitioner asking questions like: Who should the learner be? What target should I assign? Which, in turn, implies “Which lean tools should I use?” I’ll break down the questions in another post. Right […]

The Kata of Leader Development

I’ve been parsing Turn the Ship Around to better understand David Marquet’s message from his experience as captain of the USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), a Los Angeles Class nuclear powered attack submarine. And I’ve been promising to link his concepts back to Toyota Kata. So now I’m going to try to do that. You […]

Performance is the Shadow of Process

“Time is the shadow of motion” is an observation usually attributed to Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, pioneers of modern industrial engineering. What they realized was this: You want to save time. But you cannot directly affect how long something takes. You have to look at the motions, at the process structure that is casting the […]

Be Ready for Empowered Employees

“I want my employees to feel empowered.” “You realize empowerment means your employees start making decisions, right?” “Oh… I want them to feel empowered. I didn’t say wanted them to be empowered.” (from a presentation by Mardig Sheridan) This is a further exploration of one of my notes from the Kata Summit a few weeks […]

Scientific Improvement Beyond The Experiment

“How do we deploy this improvement to other areas in the company?” is a very common question out there. A fair number of formal improvement structures include a final step of “standardize” and imply the improvement is laterally copied or deployed into other, similar, situations. Yet this seems to fly in the face of the […]

David Marquet: Turn Your Ship Around

Regular readers (and clients) know I really like David Marquet’s “Leader-Leader” model and believe it has a synergistic close connection to lean thinking, leadership, and Toyota Kata. When I was offered a chance at getting a pre-publication copy of his Turn Your Ship Around! workbook, I jumped at the opportunity. Lean Leadership I don’t like […]