Toyota kata

is an excellent book by Mike Rother (isbn 978-0-07-163523-3). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
As the field of psychology shows us, with practice, behaviour patterns are changeable, learnable, and reproducible.
The improvement kata does not come to life in an organisation simply because it is a good idea.
In many cases the normal operating condition of an organisation - its nature - is not improving.
A process will tend to erode no matter what… A process is either slipping back or being improved, and the best and perhaps only way to prevent slipping back is to keep trying to move forward, even if only in small steps.
Ideally we would utilise the human intellect of everyone in the organisation to move it beyond forces of natural selection and make it consciously adaptive… At Toyota, improvement and adaptation are systematic and the method is a fundamental component of every task performed, not an add-on or a special initiative.
At Toyota, improving and managing are one and the same.
Systems theory tells us that we cannot optimise a system by trying to maximise its individual parts.
If the prevailing philosophy is to "make production", then the first process with four operators seems preferable. This process can work around problems and still make the target output, which is why you find this kind of arrangement on so many shop floors. On the other hand, at Toyota this sort of flexibility is considered negative, since problems go unresolved and the process gets into a nonimproving, firefighting cycle… A 1x1 is not just part of the ideal state condition, it is also a means for helping to get there.
The "Forrester effect"… any unevenness in assembly is increasingly amplified as the demand is transmitted to upstream processes.
Just introducing a kanban system by itself will improve very little; the system only mirrors and sheds light on the current situation.
Engineers, for example, often try to define target conditions in terms of solutions… You have to learn to hold yourself back and first define where you want to go before you get started on moving there.
It matters more that you take a step than what the first step is.
What we are actually doing with a plan is making a prediction.
We learn from failures because they reveal boundaries in our system's current capability and horizons in our minds.
Thinking that an abnormality or problem is neither positive or negative shifts the focus from the individual to the process.
Consider for example, the dieting quote, "I got fat slowly, then suddenly."
It is not possible to objectively assess one's own performance and see what skills you need to work on.
Observe, don't interview.
Everyone at Toyota has a mentor.
An organisation's intentionally cultivated behaviour patterns are a fragile thing.
You cannot reorganise your way to continuous improvement and adaptiveness… It surprises many people, in fact, to find that Toyota is largely organised in a traditional, functional-department style…Repeated practice - conditioning - creates neural pathways and, over time, an organisation's culture.
What is your improvement kata?

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