At the 9th Annual TWI Summit in Jacksonville, FL, Brandon Brown will be conducting a Toyota Kata workshop on May the 13th. Brandon delivers tangible and sustainable continuous improvement results as a Toyota Kata Coach and Lean Instructor/Facilitator as an Associate for the W3 Group. Toyota Kata is documented in Mike Rother’s book Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results.
Related Videos and Transcription: Using the Toyota Kata
Joe: Can you tell me a little bit about the Coaching Kata and how that is different from the Improvement Kata?
Brandon: Yes, the Improvement Kata really has those four steps that I’ve talked about, those four routines: understanding the direction, grasping the current condition, establishing the next target condition, and moving toward the target condition with rapid PDCA’s. All along that Improvement Kata process, there’s a learner and a coaching relationship. The learner is responsible for the process area, and he or she is responsible for overcoming obstacles. The coach is in a guiding mode, as someone who has practiced the Improvement Kata in the past and has past experience with the methodology; they’re competent to coach. And so in that process, once we have established the current condition, established a good target condition with the coach guiding them all along the way, there then becomes a point where we need to execute the PDCA step and the method of the coaching Kata is to use the five Toyota Kata questions that Mike has suggested in his book and in his handbook online.
Let’s switch over to another slide here and go to that. So the five questions are asked at the point where we go through the Caching Kata routine. It’s what really fosters the pattern of scientific thinking in teaching people how to think scientifically about solving problems. So the coach will ask the learner in a one on one coaching session, usually at the beginning of the day at a predetermined time, the coach and learner meet in front of the storyboard that tells the story of the Kata that’s going on and the coach asks, “What’s the target condition?” And then the learner responds with kind of framing the target condition and what they’re striving to achieve by a certain date, one week to two weeks out, possibly three weeks. And then the coach asks, once he understands the target condition, he asks the question or she asks the question, “What is the actual condition now?” And these are framing type questions to get the coach reoriented with the process and also to test the learner as far as their understanding and knowledge of the direction that they’re going.
As a PDCA cycle is performed, the card is usually flipped over, and the reflection questions are asked. “What was your last step?” the coach would say. The learner would respond with what experiment or step that they’ve previously conducted. The coach wants to know what the expectation was so he or she asks, “What did you expect from that step?” The learner then explains what their anticipated outcome was going to be, and the coach replies with “What actually happened?” So it’s just stepping them through the PDCA step and the learner reports on what actually happened. Either they refuted their hypothesis or they confirmed it or a new piece of data was revealed, a surprise may have happened in that particular experiment. And then finally the coach would ask, “What did you learn?” And our clients say that that’s probably the most powerful and developmental part of the Improvement Kata, Coaching Kata is that person learning how to think scientifically and do better and better PDCA’s as they’re going forward.
The coach then turns the card back over and asks about the obstacles. There’s usually a parking lot of obstacles of four to five or six obstacles that are preventing us from reaching the target condition and the coach asks, “What obstacles do you think are preventing you from reaching the target condition?” And the learner usually goes over all of the obstacles that they’re facing; that field of obstacles that we had, the red circles around. He or she will read this from a learner standpoint. The coach asks, “Which one are you addressing now?” And that’s another key pivotal point in the Coaching Kata to focus that learner on that particular obstacle. What the coach is thinking or what they’re trying to do is get in line with how the learner is thinking and they’re trying to validate, is the learner addressing one obstacle that’s related to their PDCA step that then in turn is going to help them achieve the target condition.
The learner may be addressing an obstacle that the coach may find as off the map or ancillary to the PDCA experiment that there striving to reach, so the coach may ask a few follow-up questions there to try and get the person back into what we call the Kata corridor of learning and thinking scientifically. If there’s not a specific reason they’re addressing that particular obstacle related to the target condition, we may guide that particular learner to address a different obstacle that the data may be pointing us to a slightly different direction. Ultimately, the learner has to make that decision and he asks the fourth coaching question which is, “What is your next step or your next PDCA or experiment?” And the learner would then go to the PDCA form and describe what their next experiment is. The coach follows-up with “What do you expect?” Trying to find out if that learner has a hypothesis, is that learner running an exploratory experiment? Many times they may be trying to run the
operation in the target condition or simulate the process being run in the target condition because by running it in the target condition, we find all the reasons why the process won’t work. So within limits, within safety quality limits, we’re not going to do anything that injures the worker or anyone in the area. We’re not going to sacrifice quality by this, but we may have a few target condition parameters we want to try and run. That’s a valid exploratory experiment that the learner may want to go through. The coach reacts up with the question by asking, “When can we go see what we’ve learned from taking that step?” And notice Joe that it doesn’t say, “When can we go and see what your results were? When can we go and see where you’ve made the experiment a success?” Nowhere in that question is there a focus on someone meeting a predetermined set of objectives. It’s when can we go and see what that learner has learned from executing that scientific PDCA cycle.
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