How to Get Going


Kata Creates



The TK

Starter Kata


Value Stream Mapping

Supporting Materials





Improvement Kata















Kata Exercise


In practicing new skills it’s a good idea to begin with a simple approach that doesn’t

overwhelm people. Get a few persons or a small team working with the four-step

Improvement Kata pattern, gain some experience, and build on what you learn.

This page has suggestions for how to do that, based on experience.

• Read this introductory article. -->

I: Read about it with your team


This video uses the

acronym “PDCA”


and the phrase “PDCA

cycles,” which is Lean

community terminology

for “experimenting.”

II: Do the 1-hour Improvement Kata exercise  (menu button on this site)

The Improvement Kata exercise (also called

“Kata in the Classroom”) is a compact, fun,

hands-on way to introduce the four steps of

the Improvement Kata. Anyone can run

this exercise, and everything you need

is on the website.

The IK exercise involves teams working on

a number of self-generated iterations to

complete a small puzzle. The teams follow

the Improvement Kata pattern to establish

a goal and then experiment toward it from

round to round. The purpose of the exercise is to introduce the four steps of the

Improvement Kata, and the scientific-thinking mindset that ideas should be tested,

in an experiential way.

The IK exercise works best with three teams or more. A good team size is 5 persons

per team, although a team can be as small as three people. So a minimum number

of participants is nine. The easy-to-run IK exercise is an excellent step in learning

about the Improvement Kata, and you will probably use it again and again.

Start by familiarizing yourself with the Improvement Kata / Coaching Kata topic.

Here are three things you and your team can easily do yourselves:

Then start practicing the Starter Kata in coach/learner pairs.

Chapter 4 in the Toyota Kata Practice Guide explains how

to organize your initial practice. There are six Starter Kata

for the learner and two for the coach, as shown in the

downloadable reference sheets on the “Supporting Materials”

page of this website.

Instructions for each Starter Kata are in Part II and Part III of the

Toyota Kata Practice Guide. Practice the Starter Kata exactly as

prescribed at first. Resist the natural temptation to deviate from

them too soon just because practicing them feels awkward. That

stiff, unnatural feeling is a normal part of doing anything new, and actually means

you are on the learning path. In a short time it should get easier and more fluid,

and then you can start to develop your own style – building on the patterns you

learned from the Starter Kata.

Keep in mind that you are not testing to see if the Improvement Kata pattern works,

but how to make it work in your setting. Since every team or organization is different

you should adjust and scale up as you learn, rather than based on preconceived

ideas about how you think it will go.

You might also decide to bring in some outside coaching support to help you at the

beginning. This could be another IK/CK practitioner from your region or one of the

hundreds of IK/CK-experienced consultants and advisors around the world.

Improvement Kata Poster

(click image to download pdf)

Five-Question Card

(click the card, or get pre-printed cards here)

III: Print out the Improvement Kata poster + some

five-question cards and start using them in meetings.

This is a simple first step. Anyone interested in the Toyota Kata

topic should have at least these two items. The five questions

are an easy-to-learn Starter Kata, and each time you go through

them it reinforces a scientific thinking pattern. Practice a ritual of

referring to the five-question card in meetings, to bring scientific-

thinking values into your discussions.

• Read through buttons 1-5 of this website.

• Read Part I of the Toyota Kata Practice Guide.

• Watch this 10-minute video explaining the Improvement Kata: