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Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,412 ratings  ·  83 reviews
"How any organization in any industry can progress from old-fashioned management by results to a strikingly different and better way."--James P. Womack, Chairman and Founder, Lean Enterprise Institute. This game-changing book puts you behind the curtain of Toyota, providing new insight into the legendary automaker's management practices and offering practical guidance for ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published 2009)
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Yuval Yeret
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Followers of the blog might recall an early new year resolution to get more value from I read. Well the new year is with us, but this post is about returning debt from 2011. Toyota Kata is MY 2011 book of the year. It started me on a lot of thinking streaks and opened a lot of threads for how to effectively do my job as a Lean/Agile consultant. I have to say that many threads are still open. But I recently reread some sections of the book, and it’s about time to talk about it a bit, especially s ...more
Ciprian Dobre-Trifan
One of the better books on TPS outlining the management and overall mindset change required for achieving true continuous improvement.

It also outlines the fundamental role of the professional coaching discipline for achieving this goal.
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting book! What I find particularly interesting is the view that an organization’s processes and practices are an outcome of people’s thinking and behavior. The traditional view is that you can control human behavior by defining the processes and then force people to follow them. There is a nicer word for this, it’s called process discipline.

So, if processes are an outcome, then how do you influence people’s behavior? How do you accomplish the continuous improvements, adapt
Jens Comiotto-Mayer
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an important book that has two main takeaways for me that hold valid also in non-manufacturing contexts: 1) »It is generally not possible simply to maintain a level of process performance. A process will tend to erode no matter what, even if a standard is defined, explained to everyone, and posted. […] Any organized process naturally tends to decline to a chaotic state if we leave it alone. […] A process is either slipping back or being improved.« 2) And more importantly: The Toyota (Coa ...more
Mike Arvela
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business, management
Contains a few gems and some good general advice, but would have benefited from ruthless editing: the book contains a lot of nonsense figures and many of the points are repeated 3-5 times. At times it felt like reading an academic article that contains filler phrases just because a certain page count had to be met. Nothing in this book that wouldn't have fit into a third of its length! ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Toyota Kata is an essential read for anyone who manages or leads a team. Inspired by the Toyota's management ethos, it teaches us that in order to build a long lasting organization that continuously adapts and improves leaders should focus on fostering an experimentation capability from within.
The way Toyota achieves this is by using the scientific method, what this books refers to as the Improvement Kata. The second important element is what Deming referred to Managers as teachers. It is that m
Adam Nowak
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, 2018
If you like to improve your environment - you're going to enjoy this book a lot! ...more
David McClendon, Sr
Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Toyota Kata is about how Toyota has been able to maintain the lead over most manufacturers in the world. The term “Kata” can be defined as the Japanese word for a detailed, choreographed group of patterns that are repeated over and over as a system. In redneck terms it would be “You always do it like this.”

The author, Mike Rother, spent over six years studying how Toyota does things. One thing that he sought to find out is why, if other companies copy Toyota step for step, they can’t excel wher
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a "slow start" when reading this book, but I find it pretty interesting if one would consider software (or more generic the entire IT spectrum) the point of view of looking at the issues and how to solve them.
The book, as the name implies, is focussed on the Toyota manufacturing process, but its ideas and best-practices can be applied to mostly everything. I think this is a great book considering how to approach improvements in daily work routine, especially if we ignore its strong focus o
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership, lean
Best book I have read on building a continuous improvement culture. I think I've been doing it wrong. ...more
David S
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
A novel way of diving deeper into the improvement of business processes by viewing continuous improvement as the cultivation of daily habits.
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Mike Rother expertly explains why we struggle with lean, why we need to focus our efforts away from various lean tools, and why we need to focus our efforts, instead, towards changing the culture.

Toyota Kata explores two types of routine dialogues used in every problem solving activity within Toyota; here he calls them katas however, for Toyota, it's just the way of doing business. The improvement kata offers an extremely simple, focused framework for improvement that you can apply to just about
Johan Dahlbäck
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
The subject is not new to me and I have practiced both the improvement work and the attached coaching, but I felt it was really time to read the book.

What the book does well is that it clearly describes how complex processes behave and how the usual management tasks don't work and how to implement the Toyota Kata instead.

It was a real aha moment for me to understand how heijunka, 1 x 1 flow and kanban is used not as tool but as target conditions and ways to illuminate obstacles.

Some experimen
Rhonda Sue
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a highly technical book but has great advice if you want to learn more about Toyota Kata, which is the process of continuous improvement and adaptation. Kata is a method of routines and patterns. Much of the material will be familiar to those with a background in Lean methods from TPS. This book delves into the weeds. There are lots of diagrams. Part 4 goes into coaching Kata and how to bring about cultural change. Experiment, learn from your failures, and keep after the target condition ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management
Story of Toyota, interviews with Toyota's employees simply intriguing. Process they follow like 1x1 (Continuous flowing), Kanban, Value Stream mapping are interesting to learn. Also chapters like how mentors to mentor the mentee is interesting. One can learn the skill but not the art of doing, simple statement which gives Toyota's success. Another chapter like how imbibe Toyota's values in other companies or organization were interesting. Definitely readable book for Management and process relat ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Solid book with a lot of insights into Toyota's practices, processes, and philosophies that I only had a small knowledge of previously.

It seems like it would be valuable for those in manufacturing (especially Lean manufacturing).

The downside was that nearly all of the chapters seemed to talk about how Toyota gets it right, other companies get it wrong, and seemingly no examples of non-Toyota companies succeeding using similar approaches. Even so, I felt like I got a lot out of it, so maybe other
Barry OGorman
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lean
When you get past the terminology and the tools what was lean all about in Toyota. Actually listened to this book twice via Audible. Very well laced and excellent examples. Processes are either getting better or getting worse. Chaos precludes standing still. To be effective need all relevant front line personnel looking to improve all processes all the time. And managers are there to support, encourage, create the bandwidth for front Minecraft to investigate and improve processes.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
So this is my assessment of this book Ttoyota Kata by Mike Rother according to my 7 criteria:
1. Related to practice - 5 stars
2. It prevails important - 4 stars
3. I agree with the read - 5 stars
4. not difficult to read (as for non English native) - 5 stars
5. too long and boring story or every sentence is interesting - 3 stars
6. Learning opportunity - 5 stars
7. Dry and uninspired style of writing - Smooth style with humouristic and fun parts - 3 stars

Total 4.28 stars
Mike Thelen
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The thinking behind the system. These lessons were taught to me by my mentor years before the book was published, but that is what Rother does best - put to words the systems and thinking behind the production system. This is a great read for those who only know the tools and are missing the deeper understanding.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gained a lot of unexpected insights from this book. Between the words, the illustrations help in understanding (a lot) as well as to keep the reader entertained.
Tools are indeed merely tools if they are not understood for their purpose of existence. This book is well structured and it allows the reader to read and think at the same time.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is the best and effective way to learn the ideas behind the continuously improving Toyota organization and production system. I liked the focus on practical problem solving at each level of the organization and ways to boost the routine resulting into continuous improvement. Very well written with step by step guidance to initiate and drive improvements in any value stream.
Zhexi (Bonnie)
Seamless continuation of what I read last year: “focus on the system not goals” about creating habits in life. How to play life long game of continuous improvement and adaptation in organizations instead of periodic improvement projects? Creat behavior patterns and make them habits via improvement Kata and coaching Kata.
Scott Anderson
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book, it took a bunch of concepts that were familiar and instead of focusing on how the process work (kanban / andon / jidoka ...) it focused on how they are used in a context of continuous learning.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
It's a really good book, working in the services industry I find it very hard to relate to, however thinking about a different paradigm of work and the more abstract picture the management techniques it offers are very interesting. Would recommend. ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Very insightful on how the Western way of thinking differs from what Toyota has implemented in their organisation. So therefore a good read, but at times I had some trouble staying focused as I got bored due to the writing and how the same points were repeatedly made.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book offers unique concepts about Lean organizational culture. Rother dives into why it is difficult for organizations to adapt to a Lean culture and how greater improvements are derived from learned thinking and behavior patterns rather than only visible artifacts.
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I understand more of what I'm missing, and why a prior company was doing so poorly at implementing LEAN. My key takeaway was the mentor is NOT trying to lead the mentee to the mentor's solution, but to improve their ability to problem solve. ...more
Dena Gregoire
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
For anyone looking to implement a Lean / Continuous Improvement program I highly recommend this book. It covers, in great detail, what is needed to keep going along the path.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Just like any other leadership book that I've read, this one just has a manufacturing theme to it and different terminology. ...more
Simon Hohenadl
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
I took a few things from this book, but I believe it is much more useful for manufacturing contexts, which is not my case. I found it repetitive and mostly hard to listen to.
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LeanCor: Toyota Kata 1 1 Jul 25, 2012 09:15AM  

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“As discussed in Chapter 1, there is a human tendency to desire and even artificially create a sense of certainty. It is conceivable that the point here is not that we do not see the problems in our processes, but rather that we do not want to see them because that would undermine the sense of certainty we have about how our factory is working. It would mean that some of our assumptions, some things we have worked for and are attached to, may not be true.” 1 likes
“The competitive advantage of an organization lies not so much in the solutions themselves—whether lean techniques, today’s profitable product, or any other—but in the ability of the organization to understand conditions and create fitting, smart solutions.” 1 likes
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