I wanted to have one collection point for the the 7-part series with Brandon Brown where we discussed the the Toyota Kata. Toyota Kata is documented in Mike Rother’s book Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results.
The series consists of these 7 videos:
- What is Toyota Kata
- Using Kata for Alignment
- Establishing Target Conditions
- Picking the Obstacle to Overcome
- Overcoming the Unmovable Obstacle
- The Coaching Kata
- Putting the Kata to Action
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.
An excerpt from the series:
Joe: We came here to talk about today was Toyota Kata. You have a lot of experience in that, your W3 Group does, but let’s just start at the basics. Let’s start out with what is Kata?
Brandon: A Kata if I could discuss briefly, just the basis of it, it’s really a routine or I’ve heard it translated as a way of doing, a way of practicing in order to gain skill or to develop a skill. Many times it’s used in the Martial Arts setting; many people will be familiar if they are Martial Arts — or they’ve taken Taekwondo as a kid, you learn forms for blocking and kicking, and you practice them to both learn the proper form but also to teach your muscle memory and to get your brain to thinking in a pattern of learning that particular skill. We do it also in music.
My son is learning to play the violin and music teachers use it and I don’t think they even realize that it’s a Kata. The first thing he taught my son in violin is how to hold the instrument properly, how to hold the bow and have him play all four strings with the proper bow angle to learn that. He then progressed one level up and he taught him how to play the first clause notes by pressing his fingers on to the strings. And eventually, he’s to the point of learning the next step of how to play a song. Now the teacher doesn’t teach him the whole song; just like in Martial Arts, they don’t teach you all 26 Kata’s that are involved with Karate. The teacher in Music focuses on just the first bar and maybe it’s the first 10 notes, and he wants him to repeat that over and over so his brain is learning and his muscles are developing to the point where it’s starting to become a habit, or a skill that seems natural.
A Kata is a way of practicing, a way of doing a particular routine, and we really use it in many areas. But one thing that’s really interesting from some of the research that Mike Rother has done when he wrote the book Toyota Kata is that what we’re learning from Neuroscience is that even we as adults, we want to learn or we seek to learn in a particular repetitive pattern. Our brains are tremendously adaptive organs that really as we learn a new skill, as we crack a Kata over and over again, we get new neural pathways that actually start to allow us to form a meta-habit so to speak; almost slip in to the routine once we’ve mastered the particular skill into a meta-cognition.
Those terms are used around Neuroscience and I can give you an example of how we as adults have turned something into a meta-habit and we function under meta-cognition. At 14, or 16, 17 year old, all of us learn to drive a car usually at that age and you’re really excited; the first form of independence, of going out into the world. But when you’ve first been in the car, if you can think back to that time, it’s pretty intimidating to a 14 to 16 year old. You got the brake pedal, the steering pedal, the turn signal, the steering wheel, how you adjust the mirrors, the seat and everything. And we as adults, 15 to 20 years later, we kind of slip-in to a meta-cognition. We drive and don’t even think about how to operate the car. We react to the stoplights and the traffic, all while carrying on a conversation with someone next to us. We slip into that meta-cognition because we’ve mastered that particular skill. So that, in a nutshell, is a Kata in the way that it has developed how our brain learns a skill in repeated patterns.
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