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Be a continuously-improving company

A guide by M Rother

Products sampled from this guide:

--- What is Your Improvement Kata? ---

All organizations are probably to some degree adaptive, but their improvement, adaptation and innovation usually occur periodically -- when the need becomes critical -- and are conducted by only a few people in the organization. That's too little too late. We’ve been after continuous improvement for a long time. How do you actually embed that in the fabric of an organization?

Based on my research, Toyota does it via a behavioral routine I call the Improvement Kata. The Improvement Kata is a routine that can be learned by anyone, and practicing it daily is the way Toyota develops ingenuity, initiative and engagement across the organization. It’s like the scientific method, but for all of us and for any team. Teams using the Improvement Kata learn as they strive to reach an objective, and adapt based on what they are learning.

Each organization can, of course, have its own variant; its own improvement kata. The first book in this section, "Toyota Kata," explains how to use and and how to teach the Improvement Kata the way it's done at Toyota. As I come across other books that describe forms or aspects of improvement kata I'll add them here.

Toyota Kata: Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results
Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking
Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change
The Myths of Innovation
The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
A Leader's Guide to After-Action Reviews: Training Circular 25-20


--- How Do You Learn an Improvement Kata? ---

How do you develop Improvement Kata skills in an organization?

--> By deliberately practicing!

Brain research is clear:  We can adopt new patterns of thinking and acting like the improvement kata through daily practice with guidance from a coach. It's no different than acquiring skills in sports, music, medicine, language, and so on.

What should leaders and managers do?

Number One --> Watch what you say and do! The behavior patterns that leaders and managers demonstrate will be picked up and replicated by those around them. Leaders and managers should be among the first to acquire improvement-kata skills and habits.

Number Two --> Coach! This involves leaders and managers coaching people in practicing the Improvement Kata every day. In this approach the job of leaders and managers is not so much to get the results, but to develop people so that the desired results can be achieved.

There is a convergence underway among brain science, business and education on how we acquire skills and change our thinking. The following books present insights into learning via deliberate practice, with which every 21st century manager, leader, educator, consultant and trainer should probably be familiar:

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
Kata and the Transmission of Knowledge: In Traditional Martial Arts
Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else
Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good)
Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves
Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers)
The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)


--- Next Step? ---

I think it is important for leaders and managers to ask themselves, "What routine for improving, adapting and innovating are we teaching the members of our organization?" In other words, "What is our improvement kata?"

If you're a leader, manager, coach, trainer, educator or consultant, the information in the books listed in this guide is something you should be aware of. Reading Toyota Kata + The Talent Code is one good way to start.

Mike Rother

Products mentioned include:
--- What is Your Improvement Kata? ---
1.  Toyota Kata: Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results  by Mike Rother
$17.21 Used & New from: $13.21
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2.  Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking  by Roger L. Martin
$15.69 Used & New from: $4.36
4.3 out of 5 stars   (39)
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3.  Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All  by Jim Collins
$16.12 Used & New from: $7.69
4.5 out of 5 stars   (224) | 1 customer discussion
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4.  Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters [Deckle Edge]  by Richard Rumelt
$18.45 Used & New from: $5.99
4.5 out of 5 stars   (149)
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5.  The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change  by Matthew E. May
$15.14 Used & New from: $4.96
4.8 out of 5 stars   (17)
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6.  The Myths of Innovation  by Scott Berkun
$10.38 Used & New from: $1.74
4.5 out of 5 stars   (105) | 1 customer discussion
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7.  The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses  by Eric Ries
$14.64 Used & New from: $9.62
4.4 out of 5 stars   (607) | 1 customer discussion
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8.  A Leader's Guide to After-Action Reviews: Training Circular 25-20  by Department of the Army
$13.16
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--- How Do You Learn an Improvement Kata? ---
9.  The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.  by Daniel Coyle
$14.69 Used & New from: $7.67
4.5 out of 5 stars   (377)
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10.  Kata and the Transmission of Knowledge: In Traditional Martial Arts  by Michael Rosenbaum
$15.26 Used & New from: $3.29
3.8 out of 5 stars   (8)
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11.  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else  by Geoffrey Colvin
$9.63 Used & New from: $2.53
4.1 out of 5 stars   (284) | 1 customer discussion
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12.  Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good)  by Robert Kegan
$19.70 Used & New from: $16.81
4.6 out of 5 stars   (64)
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13.  Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves  by Sharon Begley
$10.86 Used & New from: $0.23
4.1 out of 5 stars   (127) | 3 customer discussions
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14.  Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers)  by Andrew Hunt
$21.46 Used & New from: $9.99
4.5 out of 5 stars   (77)
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15.  The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)  by K. Anders Ericsson
$68.68 Used & New from: $50.00
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About this Guide

 

Author

M Rother
Qualifications: Researcher and author on subject of management
Last updated: 10/8/11
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