Improvement Kata

Kata is a Japanese word that describes detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in pairs (thanks, Wikipedia!). Its goal is to transmit proven techniques and make them so natural that they can be used and adapted to each situation quickly and without hesitation. The key concepts here are that katas “are practiced everyday” and “adapt to the circumstances”, they are not strict routines that fit everywhere without much thinking.

The concept of Kata fits well in Lean. Lean means everyday work. Lean means practicing everyday proven problem solving techniques. Lean means adapting to the circumstances. Lean is not a project.

Coaching plays a key role in developing Lean thinking. Asking questions that generate the right mental process and using PDCA cycles to practice and learn are 2 of the most important things to do. This is an example of how to do it, presented at a recent Lean conference by the Lean Management Instituut (Netherlands)


Remember: Small improvement steps (think what to do, do it, see if it works, consider what you have learned) beat big improvement projects.


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