Lean Six Sigma

What is Toyota Kata?

Brandon Brown delivers tangible and sustainable continuous improvement results as a Toyota Kata Coach and Lean Instructor/Facilitator as an Associate for the W3 Group. Since 2006, Brandon has been a Professor of Operations Management at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville teaching courses in the Industrial Engineering department such as Lean Production and Leadership Principles and Practices for the Master of Science in Operations Management degree program. Brandon is a Southeast Region Board Member for the of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. He is also a Certified John Maxwell Coach, Teacher, and Speaker.

This is the first part of a 7-part series with Brandon discussing the Toyota Kata. The series will consist of these videos:

  1. What is Toyota Kata
  2. Using Kata for Alignment
  3. Establishing Target Conditions
  4. Picking the Obstacle to Overcome
  5. Overcoming the Unmovable Obstacle
  6. The Coaching Kata
  7. Putting the Kata to Action

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ApRecs Field Data Scorecard Training

At last year’s Northwest Food Processors Association Expo, 72% attendees said food safety was a prime concern. A reason stated was that a single food safety incident can cause damage to your brand and to your bottom line. Do you think attendees would say they are making better decisions this year over last? What is missing in most cases is that Food Safety has never been tied to business objectives. How do you use Food Safety Data in Your Organization?

Join ApRecs for 3 exciting leadership sessions, learn the Field Data Scorecard Method.

February 13  @ 9:00 am PST: Creating a Quality Environment from Compliance: Dr. W. Edwards Deming introduced the idea that the best way to quality was to assure the quality of the processes that creates the product. Food Safety ValuesThrough this type of thinking, we stopped thinking of quality from perspective of inspection and whether it passed or not. Instead, we learned that quality took place in real-time and by the people doing the work. Compliance is very much like quality. The best way towards compliance is to move compliance into work processes and towards the place of work. As Lean taught us, quality/recordation can be used to improve our business process and achieve business objectives.


  1. Creating a normalized process out of your field data
  2. Ownership: Taking responsibility for the privacy and security of your data
  3. Transparency: Trusted connections, who are they and what they do with your records

March 13th @ 9:00  am PST:  Leveraging Compliant Data for Awareness: Most Packers/Shippers/Processors lack a system of measurement and a way to monitor field data performance. However, what would it be like if the status in real-time was displayed for all growers and Food Safety Valuesproduct varieties with the capability to drill down instantaneously to any give field, block or individual record.  What if these indicators were available for Sales Desks and at the fingertips of operations and productions? Ask Food Safety now for information and most of what you will receive is a thumbs up and/or information for the product much later in processing when a label has been attached.  If there is a wrong chemical applied, an invalidated record, the issue would now surface practically immediately, not several weeks later from a lab report or discovered at the time of an audit. When discovery happens in real-time, problems can be handled when both risk and cost are at a minimum.


  1. Quality tools what are they and how to use them.
  2. CAPA: Corrective Actions and Preventative Actions
  3. Develop Forecasting Tools

April 10 @ 9:00 AM PST: Putting Awareness  to work  thu Scorecarding:  The Field Data Scorecard solution is a catalyst for change. The power of the scorecard lies in identifying opportunities to increase value recognition and predicting future performance with some confidence. If we Food Safety Valuesimprove our processes, we improve quality, conformance and the speed at which we do work. Meeting Business Objectives is a key part of the scorecard. It adds the dynamic characteristic needed to shift from compliance to awareness.


  1. Delivering a Compliant Product
  2. Privacy and Data Security
  3. Brand Protection and Risk Management
  4. Performance Measurements

There are undeniable short-term costs, but most of these will eventually become costs anyway. Creating new data does not mean simply putting it in a report. That would be wasteful. Instead, it should be used to spark creative solutions that, in fact, makes your organization better. The opportunity is to use the Field Data Scorecard to move from short-term fixes of avoidance to the long-term capability of awareness.

Learn the Field Data Scorecard Method

  • February 13  @ 9:00 am PST:  10:00 am PST: Creating a Quality Environment from Compliance
  • March 13th @ 9:00  am PST:  Leveraging Compliant Data for Awareness
  • April 10 @ 9:00 AM PST: Putting Awareness  to work  thru Scorecarding

When you start thinking this way about your Food Safety Data, your Field Data…there are endless opportunities to use your data in constructive ways.


There will be a short 10 minute introduction on the Field Data Scorecard before the regular ApRecs Packer/Shipper/Processor webinars. You can stay for the rest of the webinar or you can leave after you hear about the scorecard. ApRecs does not impose its platform to develop the Field Data Scorecard. You can use your existing system though it may have certain limitations across platforms that may need to be added or manually created.



Disclaimer: I work with ApRecs and will be facilitating these sessions.

Help! Do You Know Anything about the 4P Process?

I have been doing some project work in Scorecarding and Dashboarding lately and ran across the term the 4P Cycle in Gupta’s book, Six Sigma Business Scorecard. $P Cycle

The 4P Cycle consist of

  1. Prepare represents ensuring good inputs to the process, The inputs consist of Ishikawa’s 4Ms (material, machines, methods, and manpower or people). The objective is to ensure these four Ms are received well as inputs to ensure the process output will be on target.
  2. Perform implies the process steps are well defined, and understood for effective and consistent execution.
  3. Perfect means assessing the performance against the established target performance. If the process output is not on target, the gap is assessed.
  4. Progress leads to reducing variability or the gap around the target, and striving toward the targeted performance.

By continually applying the 4P cycle, one can reengineer process to achieve the results desired by the customer through better process management, instead of increased inspection.

My understanding is that it is the method to Perform an Opportunity Analysis of a project or undertaking like PDCA or Six Sigma. Of course to a Six Sigma person it may make perfect sense. To a Lean person that thinks continuous improvement is continuous ( we know that is not exactly true) it seems a little out of sync.

Either way, I found it fascinating but have found little reference to it in other literature. In fact, Gupta I feel leaves me hanging a little on the 4P Cycle and was interested if anyone could reference it in other work or shed some light on their understanding or use of it.

Two steps to Changing Culture

Larry Rubrich of WCM Associates LLC wrote one of the most straight forward books on Hoshin Kanri that I have seen: Policy Deployment & Lean Implementation Planning: 10 Step Roadmap to Successful Policy Deployment Using Lean as a System. I had a past podcast on Lean Construction with him,  An Overview of Lean Construction and could not resist diving into a few Hoshin type questions.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:  You talk again about changing culture. In any organization, it’s really tough. You just don’t wave a wand and change culture or make an edict that we’re changing culture today. Can you tell me how to do it, a short synopsis of it?

Larry: This is really a great question. The difficulty for most organizations, whether you’re talking about manufacturing, health care or construction and service, is nobody’s focused on culture. They let the culture develop on its own, unguided, and then they wonder why they have people in their organization with bad attitudes that don’t care about the organization. So ultimately, where you have to start with culture is you got to start with an understanding that organizational culture is a learned process and it’s developed by the organization in response to the working environment established by the organization’s leadership and management team. So what you have for culture is based on the reaction of everybody to the environment that’s been created by the leadership team.

So if you’re going to change that culture??and most organizations require culture change to support Lean??you have to do this in a couple steps. Ultimately, culture change takes a long time, but you can get it started by doing two things.

First, about the leadership team creating a values and behavioral expectation statement, a little pocket card that says, “This is how we will operate. These are our behavioral expectations, not only for the leadership team but for everybody in the organization.”

So creating these value statements and then, essentially, instituting them and enforcing them within the organization becomes a powerful part of getting that culture change. Obviously and ultimately, the leadership team has to be willing to follow those 100 percent.

So creating the values and behavioral expectations are the start of it. Now, for construction organizations, this can be a difficult flip because many construction organizations already have value statements. But they’re not being followed, and ultimately, they’re meaningless. So we have to re-institute them in some cases and give them some teeth.

When I say, “give them some teeth,” ultimately, for organizations that really change ??a reference: one organization, the leadership team agreed that you get two violations of the value statement, and you’re out of a job; you’re going to be terminated. So that can reinforce what needs to be done.

Once, you’ve created the values and behavioral expectations statements and we’ve got that within the organization, next you have to integrate the values and the Lean activities into associate performance evaluations, promotion opportunities, hiring, merit increases, bonus activity, and new?employee training. All have to be integrated with what you’re looking for from a Lean standpoint and your goals with Lean and also the value statements.

The first time in the organization that somebody gets promoted or rewarded and they’re not a 100?percent supporter of Lean activities, or they’re a violator of the value statement; your culture change is done. So those are very important activities to get started, and then all of that has to be followed up with communication, empowerment, and the teamwork part of creating a Lean culture.

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Does the Original Seven Quality Tools Still Fit?

Prior to his early retirement, Brian Joiner was Chairman and co-owner of Joiner Associates, a nationally recognized management consulting firm. Prior to Joiner Associates, Brian was a UW professor. He is the author of Fourth Generation Management and co-author with Peter Scholtes of The Team Handbook, published by Joiner Associates and one of the best-selling business books of all time, having now sold over one-and-a-half million copies. Brian was a protege of W. Edwards Deming and has received the Deming Medal, the Shewhart Medal, the Hunter Award, the Ott Award, and the Wilcoxon Prize, to name just a few. Brian is at this time is contributing to greater health care solutions through his work at Joiner Associates LLC.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Thoughts on Lean and Dr. Deming from Brian Joiner

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:         In today’s the world, does the original seven quality tools still fit?

Brian Joiner:      I think all those things are still very important. Lean, I think, is very important. I’m not so high on Six Sigma. One thing, that I think Six Sigma made a major contribution to, was the process of construction and developing capabilities that, from the beginning. They had this notion that you needed to develop people to high levels of confidence to help others do this stuff. They came up with the notion of the black belts and the greenbelts and so on, and that was a real innovation.

We at Joiner Associates, and the other thing that happened are that companies, we had one of our clients at that time got heavily into Six Sigma, one of the early companies to do that, and we already had a thing that was like the black belt training but wasn’t quite as rigorous, and it included more of the people aspects of consulting and how you get teams to work together and so on, but it had the basics of it, which are para-statisticians training, like paramedics and other things like that.

We had that, but what we never had was the ability to get the company to put the high potentials into the course. That’s what made that hum, I think, was special, was that they had the high potentials, learning and learning by doing it themselves before they go out and try to help other people, getting good at it themselves that creates a whole new culture. That was a big, big impact from the Six Sigma. I think that the content of it is okay. Lean has much better content, and I think they had better content even in the beginning approaches. We didn’t have that access to the high potentials to make that work.

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Difference between DMAIC and PDCA 0

Dr. Liker is a nationally recognized authority on lean manufacturing methods and Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. He is an expert on U.S. and Japanese differences in manufacturing and supply chain management, and co-founded the Japan Technology Management Program at UM. He had a discussion with me on PDCA in this related podcast and transcription: PDCA The Toyota Way.

Joe:  What makes PDCA, something other than just another problem-solving methodology like DMAIC? Is it a cultural thing? Is that what it’s all about?

Jeff:  Yes, I think it’s a cultural thing. I’ve worked with various trained Black Belts and learned a lot from their Six Sigma Training and the projects they did. But the way I would look at DMAIC is that it’s very scripted, mechanistic approach. The underlying assumption which I think is a strong Western, scientific assumption ?? is that if you can understand the phenomena well enough through a combination of data and analysis of that data, you ought to be able to predict what’s going to happen.

The better you analyze the data, and the more you are precisely trying to identify exactly what the cause is, the better able you are to predict what’s going to happen. If you get it right then you’ve solved the problem, and like I said, the case is closed. You’re like the electrician. You put the tools back in your toolkit, and the case is closed.

In the Toyota way of thinking, again, it comes from humbleness, and it also comes from a background of the company, which started in a rice?growing region of Japan. If you’re a rice farmer, no sane rice farmer would think that they could control everything. They can’t control light; they can’t control the weather; they can’t control soil conditions. So they’re constantly trying to struggle to adapt to things that they can’t control.

That was the environment in which Toyota grew. It kept that humble attitude that the world is just too complex, and we’re never going to be able to predict what’s going to happen. It’s kind of a false sense of security to spend an enormous amount of time collecting data and analyzing the data with ever more sophisticated methods. Because the precision is false precision anyway, and we don’t really know what’s going to happen.

If we can come up with a lot of different ideas and try those ideas quickly, and then, actually learn by doing and actually see what happens. Then we have to go the next step of actually checking what actually happened, and what actually happened isn’t just what happened the week after the Six Sigma project was done. It’s what happens over the next six months, over the year, and over more than that. Do we sustain the process? So you live with the process to understand it.

Then you now have to, somehow, capture that information in a way that it’s reusable, so that people won’t make the same mistakes and don’t have to start the learning process over again in three years, when the manager has moved on, and most of the people have moved on. They have no idea that you made this great intervention three years ago, and you’re aware that these 10 things that work and these five things that don’t work. That’s where you become a learning organization.

My complaint is not necessarily DMAIC itself, but rather, the underlying philosophy and the organizational approach, which is you send in a Black Belt, who’s like the expert electrician. They take the tools out of their toolkit; they fix your problem, and they may work with you to try to teach you a little bit while you’re there. Then they put away their tools, and they go away.

They assume that they if they did enough statistical analysis which often, in these Six Sigma projects that I’ve been involved with, and even when I’ve seen the Lean Six Sigma that comes out of Six Sigma, I sometimes use the analogy that it’s about 80 percent massaging data numbers and about 20 percent actually thinking deeply about the problem, and taking action, and learning from what happens.

It’s the reverse in the Toyota way. It’s about 80 percent thinking deeply, engaging the right people, trying, observing, figuring out what happened, and educating the people who are part of that problem-solving process. Then, there’s about 15?20 percent, which are the tools and techniques and the analysis. That’s generally considered fairly irrelevant. It’s not a big deal, the methods themselves. The measure of success is what a person has taken away from this process: the hourly workers and the supervisors. What did they learn from this?

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Can Lean Be Easily Applied To Sales? 0

I thought I would receive a different answer when I asked Jim Womack, “Well, we’re talking about customer all the time and we talk about feedback and the value for the, but the closest one to the customer in most organizations is the sales and marketing process and that seems to be the one process that’s siloed out there that Lean doesn’t apply to.”

An excerpt from this related podcast and transcription: Lean Stories of Improvement

Dr. Womack:  Well, first off, it absolutely applies. It just hasn’t been applied. By the way, going the other direction, we know a staggering amount about how to do purchasing the right way and it is hardly ever done the right way. So you look downstream, you look upstream, towards sales and toward purchasing, and what you’ll often see is nothing happening that is going to support operating a good process on the production side or on the product development side in the middle, really product development and production.

And customer support. This is quite a step up from sales and marketing, but customer support. Those are really the three easiest to fix core processes of any business. But it’s hard to fix them when you don’t have a companion process stretching upstream and complimentary process going downstream.

And senior management has typically not seen much need to do it. I think partly because it’s just so easy to construct scoreboards that you say to your salespeople, I want you to sell 20% more at an average price of X, and you get an enormous bag of money. And there at senior management, I’ve done my job.

And then you say, well you’re purchasing and you want to save the following amount of my by reducing piece?part?price, and that’s easy to measure. Total cost is really hard to figure out, but piece?part?price, that’s easy. So take piece?part?price down by 10% and I the senior manager, will give you an enormous bag of money.

With no reference to, “Well, how would you do that?” By the way, to actually do that would require changing the supplier’s product development and production process, and probably their purchasing process as well. And to do it with the customer would require changing what we call the provision process which is how you get the product into the hands of the customer and go through the negotiation on price and make delivery and make them happy.

It’s just interesting. Those are treated by most senior managers as things that can be managed with a scoreboard. But what we call management by results rather than management by process. And look, that’s easy. It’s easy.

But to me, it’s like the team owner of some sports team who’s not doing very well so he concludes what’s needed is a bigger scoreboard because perhaps the players can’t see the scoreboard. What the team is saying, “Well, we don’t know how to block and tackle.” Then the owner says, “Gosh, not only do we need a bigger scoreboard. We need more data on the scoreboard. We need lots and lots of metrics on the scoreboard.”

The team is saying, “Well, gee, but we don’t know how to block and tackle.” So then the owner says, “Well, what we need is incentives. I’m going to give you big bags of money if you put points on the board.” The team says, “Gee, we don’t know how to block and tackle.” The owner in exasperation says, “Well, I’m going to give much bigger bags of money to put points on the board.”

So now you have a parody of management by results, except that what you actually see in a lot of organizations. That it’s just sort of magic that if you build a scoreboard with some metrics, and you put money behind the metrics, you will get a good result. That’s an interesting hypothesis, but I believe it has been disproved over and over again. Yet in the organizations it just continues as if there were no evidence that it doesn’t work.

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