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ASQ Montreal — Had You Been Connected — Journey To The Heart Of Kata And Scientific Thinking (February 2013)

By Jean-Pierre Amiel posted 03/01/23 04:53 PM



Michelle Paquin

Le Toyota Kata : Un outil pour vous apprendre à pêcher!

(Toyota Kata: A tool to teach you how to fish!)

By Michelle Paquin, MBA, M Sc. IT, and Digital Event Strategist (DES) Lecturer.

Here is a summary of the presentation Voyage au cœur du Kata et de la pensée scientifique (Journey to the heart of Kata and scientific thinking) by Sylvain Landry, on 22 February 2023.

For several years now, we have been talking about the learning organisation, how technologies are revolutionizing businesses, but is our brain really adapted to life in the 21st century? This question was raised by Mr. Landry during his presentation on the Toyota Kata and scientific thinking. Using reasoning by the absurd, our speaker began by pointing out several mistakes that have made headlines: from a SWAT intervention at the wrong address, a false victory of "La La Land" at the Oscars, to a Los Angeles-Tokyo flight U-turn because a passenger had taken the wrong plane. These examples raise the question of whether we really learn from our mistakes.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, many people have looked at the reasons for Toyota's success. Although the company is often associated with Lean Manufacturing and its toolbox, it is interesting to ask why we cannot achieve this organizational efficiency.

Mike Rother has studied the logic behind how to replicate this much-analyzed model: "The common denominator of their teaching was learning to continuously improve the actual processes, day by day, with feedback on the processes from the coach/manager".

Kata Pensée Scientifique - Sketchnote - Benoit Leclair

As presented by Sylvain Landry, the Toyota Kata is based on two main concepts: the scientific thinking model, expressed in the well-known form of "plan-do-check-act", and deliberate practice. Each improver (called a learner in the context) can develop scientific thinking through a routine and make continuous improvements through experimentation in order to move towards a target condition. The target condition is established in the very short term in order to arrive at the organization's longer term vision (or challenge). This iterative method relies on pre-defined questions asked by a coach (often supervised by a second coach), which allows the learner to reason through a problem rather than jump to conclusions. This is a very interesting element that is presented, namely the link between Kata and neuroscience. Our brains are designed to make decisions based on experiences, habits and even fears: "43% of the time, our actions are carried out without conscious thought". Kata teaches us to unlearn. Like a musician practising his scales, by repeating the scientific approach, organisations can become learning organisations.

Sylvain presented concrete examples of the application of this method in organisations such as NEA Baptist Hospital, IBM and SigmaPoint Technologies. This helps to demystify that although this technique was initially analysed at Toyota, it can be applied in all areas. The only aberration we can think of with Kata is that it is not explicitly applied at Toyota. For them, this way of thinking is an integral part of their DNA: "fish don't know they live in water".

Another buzzword some will think; on the contrary the Kata should be the basis of all your fishing stories!

Thanks again to Sylvain Landry, a leading expert in the field, but above all an outstanding speaker, who was able to pass on his passion for the Toyota Kata and scientific thinking.