• “Strive Fore Five”: Change Your Game with Kata

“Strive Fore Five”: Change Your Game with Kata


Leigh Ann Schildmeier, President, Park Avenue Solutions, Fishers, IN, USA


Toyota Kata, Improvement Kata, Kata Coaching


Financial Services



Four steps and five questions can start building a habit of continuous improvement through application of the principles of Kata. In this presentation, participants will learn the basics of Toyota Kata (as developed by lean guru Mike Rother) followed by a fun demonstration using the Kata methodology to take incremental steps toward improvement in a real-world application … in this case, striving to lower a golfer’s handicap.

Kata is a methodology that, with proper training and practice, will develop the habit, the skills, and eventually the culture/mindset of continuous improvement. As such, Kata can work on any process, any service, yes, any sport. Using the example of addressing obstacles to improving a golf score, the presenters will demonstrate the Four Steps of Improvement Kata and the Five Questions of Coaching Kata and demonstrate how the methodology that can be implemented for any process or system in any organization.

In “Strive Fore Five,” participants will experience a real, practical example demonstrating this next level of lean thinking and operations management based on the book Toyota Kata by Mike Rother.

Decades after Lean practices were observed in Toyota’s operations, the same observers went back to Japan and discovered the company was using entirely different solutions to the same processes. Rather than stopping with a one-time “lean” implementation, Toyota has continued to adapt, practicing daily improvement at every level to ensure the company maintains its manufacturing excellence. This is what Mike Rother termed “Toyota Kata,” a regular, structured practice that develops a habit that, over time, changes behavior, which ultimately changes culture.

“Strive Fore Five” will demonstrate the concept of regularly practicing a new behavior to create a new skill. The new skill, in turn, creates increased confidence in one's abilities to recognize and make small improvements that keep a person (or a process) in top form continuously.

The presentation will give participants a clear picture of the two foundations of Toyota Kata, the Four Steps of the Improvement Kata and the Five Questions of the Coaching Kata. Then the methodology will be demonstrated in a fun but practical application.

The Learner (the presenter), an experienced and regular golfer, will demonstrate how reaching a goal of lowering a golf handicap, in this case from a 9 to a 5, can be addressed by following the Four Steps of Improvement Kata:

1. Understand the Direction or Challenge
2, Grasp the Current Condition
3. Establish the Next Target Condition, and
4. Experiment Toward the Target Condition

The Learner is supported by a “Kata Coach” who helps ensure the Learner follows the scientific method of the Improvement Kata in each “cycle” by working through the Five Questions of Coaching Kata. One of the most effective ways to effect lasting change is to establish the practice of continuously striving for excellence. Unlike spearheading an ambitious, one-time change initiative, Coaching Kata can start small and pay lasting dividends by empowering each and every team member, from CEO to floor sweeper, to encourage daily improvement through their own actions.

Through this sporting and engaging exercise, they will see the Toyota Kata in action and will walk away with a fundamental understanding of how Kata can provide:- A systematic, scientific routine that can be applied to any problem or challenge.- A standard method for how members of an organization develop solutions.- A process for migrating managers toward the role of coach and mentor by practicing coaching cycles.- A framework for practicing PDCA in a way that has people taking small steps every day, building a practice and a culture of truly continuous improvement.

Whether it’s an establishing manufacturing process or a startup project phase, Strive Fore Five will give participants insights on a methodology that can be used to solve issues and problems, as well as mitigate impediments during various stages of any process or project. The principles are applicable to all levels of continuous improvement knowledge and all industries. The Improvement Kata is one approach that provides the appropriate context.

Program Learner/Participant Objectives:- Build awareness of Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata- Observe a process for establishing daily continuous improvement- Learn a systematic, goal-directed approach to leading change- Understand how to begin developing a culture of scientific thinkers