Improvement Kata challenges traditional improvement thinking ... “no plan will cover everything, and that is OK”! Kata is a Japanese word meaning “way of doing”. A kata is a pattern you practice to learn a skill. Through practice, the pattern of a kata becomes second nature. The 4 Steps of the Improvement Kata are:
Step 1 - Understand the direction.
Step 2 - Grasp the Current Condition.
Step 3 - Establish the next Target Condition.
Step 4 - PDCA toward the Target Condition.
STEP 1 – UNDERSTAND THE DIRECTION
We must understand where we are headed as a business long term – we must have a vision. There are 2 levels of “Vision”. The very very distant one, the one your board may be setting for the company. That is not the Vision we will consider. We will focus on the 1-3 years out Vision, maybe better named as the “Challenge”. This 1-3 years out Challenge is likely to take a series of Target Conditions to achieve, not just one or two.
STEP 2 – GRASP THE CURRENT CONDITION
We must understand where are we now, what we HAVE. Why do we need to know the Current Condition? Because understanding the Current Condition is a step toward establishing the first Target Condition. Once you understand the first Target Condition ...Then ... you have something to strive for which will reveal obstacles. Now you have something to work on, THE OBSTACLES.
STEP 3 – ESTABLISH THE NEXT TARGET CONDITION
Setting Target Conditions is a key point in Improvement Kata. It is the role of the manager to do so. Well constructed clearly define Target Conditions lay the foundation for success.
A Target Condition describes what we WANT, with a specified “reach by date” usually between 1 week and 3 months out. A Target Condition lies beyond your current knowledge limit. In other words, you don’t know for sure how you will achieve it. But you will get started, you will find the obstacles and you will remove them, on your way to the Target Condition.
STEP 4 – PDCA TOWARD THE TARGET CONDITION
Steps 1, 2 and 3 are planning. Step 4 is when you start doing something, you apply Edward Deming’s PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Adjust [formerly Act]) cycle.
PDCA is the tool used to get you from what you HAVE to what you WANT. What you WANT is aligned to the basic key performance drivers of any operation – quality, productivity and safety. It is important to remember NOT to address obstacles (process waste) that are not blocking your path to your Target Condition ,that in itself is wasted effort, effort that make no difference to your key performance drivers.
The P in PDCA stands for Plan. As the name would suggest, this is where you define ... What you will do, what you think will happen. The D in PDCA stands for Do. As the name would suggest, this is where you ... Do what you planned, WATCH CLOSELY.
The C in PDCA stands for Check. This is where you ... Compare what happened with that expected. The key point here is that Check is a comparison between actual and expected.
The A in PDCA stands for Adjust. It originally stood for “Act”. This is where ... Given WHAT YOU JUST LEARNT, what will you do next? The key point here is that you may well change direction a little, or a lot. This change is NOT RANDOM; it is based on WHAT YOU LEARNT DURING THE “DO” AND “CHECK”.
This improvement KATA is being provided by PDCA - Powerhouse Development and Coaching Academy in partnership with TWI Institute HQ and TWI Institute Australia & New Zealand Global Partner