Kata is a method of making small, incremental change toward improvements every day.
Most companies are led and run by hard-working people, who want their teams and organization to succeed. Sometimes, there is a feeling of frustration because of the difference between the desired results and what really happens. The problem is not the employees; it´s usually the management system in place.
 
A management system is the systematic search of the desired situations through the use of human capabilities and competences in a coordinated way. It is true that we cannot predict the future, but we can adjust continually to the continuos dynamic of change and customer requirements.
 
KATA represents the way Toyota manages continuos improvement and adaptability to changing situations. Kata are routine practices that help us adopt new ways of acting and thinking. It is a pattern of scientific thinking that is combined with practical routines that help us adopt new ways of thinking and acting.
 
KATA is repeating a four-step routine by which an organization improves and adapts. It makes continuos improvement through the scientific problem-solving method of Plan, Do, Check and Act.
 
The four steps are:
 
1.- Understand the direction.
2.- Grasp the current condition.
3.- Establish the next target condition.
4.- Iterate toward the target condition.
 
Practicing Kata is going to help us achieve the goal we seek in a process, without generating disconnected ideas, but with focused model of improvements based on well-founded hypotheses, experiments and frequent follow-ups.
 
We develop structured routines for exercising teamwork and learning. It is a way to transfer skills, develop skills and share ways of thinking within a team or organization.
 
Lean Six Sigma Management System only works if we provide learning and improving experiences every day, not just when we practice Kaizen events. The responsibility of the manager is not to develop solutions, but to develop the skills of his employees.
 
Elements for conducting KATA´s:
 
  1. In order to develop KATA, we are going to use a whiteboard, called Kata-Board. The Kata-Board is located on the floor or in the office where the work and results will be improved.
  2. A Question Card is used to read the questions when a KATA is conducted. It generally contains five questions to be asked by the leader of the area where the KATA is conducted.
  3. The Obstacle List is where we write all the obstacles that prevent reaching the objective condition or at least the most important obstacles.
  4. An Improvement Cycle Record is used by the operator to document the experiments, the results, and what was learned.
Leaders at all levels conduct KATA´s with their partners who work in the service and manufacturing processes. KATA is conducted whenever we seek to achieve an objective condition that we have not achieved in terms of quality, cost, delivery, safety, morale, etc.
 
KATA is a simple process that takes from 10 to 15 minutes every time it´s conducted, but doing it continually solves big problems in a small time frame.
 
How Katas are conducted?
 
  1. Leaders decide the place and process.
  2. A specific time is scheduled each time a Kata is conducted.
  3. The leader of the process asks the questions listed in the card.
  4. The process owner responds to the questions.
  5. Experiments are conducted by the process team.
  6. New KATA´s will be conducted by the leaders to find the results of the experiments and what was learned.