While other authors have written about Toyota’s manufacturing principles and the company’s approach to efficiency, Mike Rother is the first to devote six years of study to Toyota’s actual management behavior—revealing the essential kata—in his book, Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results (McGraw-Hill, 2010).
Toyota instills an invaluable mindset in its employees at all levels. When thinking and behavior patterns are repeated over and over in daily work, they become a way of doing something, a method, or routine. In Japan such patterns and routines are called kata. Organized around Toyota’s primary approaches to thinking and acting, Toyota Kata delivers proven patterns—and how to develop them—that can help any manager accelerate a team.
Rother explains how to improve management’s approach through the use of two kata:
Improvement Kata: Change is the constant. Toyota has internal capability to constantly establish challenging new target conditions and regimens for overcoming obstacles diligently, and learning from each one that is encountered.
Coaching Kata: At Toyota, leaders are teachers. Rother shows how the company’s core behavior patterns are taught to everyone inside the organization. Without a routine of teaching all employees at every level, motivation lags, capability is not developed, and missed opportunities for ingenuity abound.
Rother also reaches beyond Toyota to explain issues of human behavior in organizations, including:
• Why improvement and adaptation should be part of every employee’s day-to-day work life, not rare occurrences that automatically meet with resistance
• How to tap the true capabilities of everyone in the organization, spurring continual achievement of new levels of performance
• An enabled organization: the key to improving, adapting, innovating, and satisfying customers, and a strong strategy for an unpredictable marketplace
• Surprising traits of companies that thrive long term, with numerous practical examples that bring to life these powerful philosophies and inspire readers to take action
• Practical applications and clear explanations for introducing the data, with step-by-step methods for analyzing a production process and establishing a target condition
• Wisdom for a broad spectrum of personnel, not just executives and managers, but engineers and analysts, rising stars, and new hires with high aspirations, as well as instructors and their students
• Replication: techniques for effecting sweeping change in the fundamental psychology—the mindset or culture—of any organization, with advice for adapting Toyota’s management method to a variety of organizations, including nonmanufacturing sectors