What is

a Kata?





Improvement Kata


Kata Creates










Links and Video

Value Stream Mapping

Materials to Download







The Improvement Kata


What’s a Meta Skill?

The path to a challenging goal can’t be determined

in advance and today's solutions probably won’t fit

tomorrow's problems.  Better to practice and master

a universal means of developing your own solutions

and meeting challenges along uncertain paths.

That’s what the Improvement Kata is.

A Striving Pattern to Practice Every Day

If you’re into Lean...  The Improvement Kata

models the managerial context within which

Toyota’s Lean tools are intended to be applied.

It teaches goal-directed behavior, not just

hunting for waste or reacting to problems.

Instructions and practice routines for the Improvement Kata are provided in the Improvement Kata Handbook, a free download on the Materials to Download page of

this website.  For an introduction to the IK please review the two presentations below.

And be sure to check out the Links and Video and Getting Started pages of this website.

Reference Guide and Flowchart  ------>

Click to view & download

(pdf format)

"If you go through the Improvement Kata process

you'll get to where you need to get to.  And the

more times you do it the better you will get at it."

     ~ Jim Huntzinger, President, Lean Frontiers

"Go where there is no path

and leave a trail."   ~ Emerson

Definitions & Terminology

Excerpt from:  Ichijo, Kazuo and Nonaka, Ikujiro, Knowledge Creation and Management:  New Challenges for Managers, Oxford University Press, 2006, page 25.

Knowledge Assets in Your Company - Learning to Learn

Knowledge assets are not just the knowledge already created, such as know-how, patents, technologies, or brands, but also include the knowledge to create knowledge, such as the organizational capability to innovate.  Although current views on knowledge assets tend to focus on the former because they are easier to measure and deal with, it is the latter that need more attention because they are the source of new knowledge to be created, and therefore a source of the future value of the firm.

One of the most important knowledge assets for a firm is a firm-specific kata (roughly, "pattern" or "Way of doing things") of dialogues and practices.  Nelson and Winter (1982) emphasize the importance of routines for the firm's evolutionary process.  Here, we focus on "creative routines" of kata, which make knowledge creation possible by fostering creativity and preserving efficiency.

Definitions & Terminology

The Improvement Kata is for the Learner,

and the Coaching Kata is for the Coach

To make the scientific Improvement Kata pattern a habit in an organization its managers

teach/coach the Improvement Kata routines a little bit every day. The Coaching Kata is a

protocol for how to do that (see the next section).

The patterns and practice routines of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata provide

a universal approach that’s not a problem-solving method, but a training regimen for

developing scientific skill and mindset.

The 4 steps of the Improvement Kata are a pattern of scientific thinking & acting,

with structured practice routines for each step so you can operationalize the pattern.

Concepts Without Kata

Concepts alone are not enough to alter how we act and

think.  Management concepts based on the scientific

approach -- such as Systems Thinking, Design Thinking

and Lean Thinking -- have generated surprisingly little

change in actual management practice.  We’re starting

to realize that change usually requires practicing specific,

small behavior patterns, especially at the beginning.

A kata is a practice routine.  The Improvement Kata’s practice

routines teach a scientific meta-skill that aims to change our habits

of mind so our capabilities come to greater fruition.  Practicing the Improvement

Kata develops and mobilizes our creative capabilities and makes us better at

achieving goals.  It gives us a way to make those management concepts a reality!