Mike Rother sent out an email today pointing out that the Lean Enterprise Institute’s web site now has a Toyota Kata page.
I believe this is a significant event for the lean community as a whole, as well as for the LEI.
As many of my regular readers know, I have maintained the view that the LEI had not kept up with the current state of knowledge about what makes “lean” work.
When the LEI published Kaizen Express in 2009, I wrote a review that addressed this topic. The review had two parts. One part about the book itself, and the other about the context of the community’s knowledge at the time.
I think it is a great book, for 1991.
But this is 2009. So while Kaizen Express is a welcome refresher of the mechanics, those mechanics are, according to the current standing theory, built upon a foundation of something that Kaizen Express, and for that matter, the LEI has not, to date, addressed. What is missing, in my view, is how the tools and practices outlined in Kaizen Express and its predecessors actually drive daily continuous improvement that engages every team member in the process. [bolding added for emphasis here]
When Toyota Kata was published, I believe it closed that gap for the community at large. But I felt a bit of irony that while Mike Rother had co-authored the LEI’s flagship workbook Learning to See, Toyota Kata was not only outside the LEI’s community at the time, it was hardly acknowledged to exist.
The purpose of this post is to acknowledge that a significant step has been taken: For the first time in many years, the LEI is embracing material that they did not originally publish.
From my perspective, this looks like a turning point away from the path of irrelevance.