Mike Rother, Author of Learning to See and Toyota Kata, and the new Toyota Practice Guide.)

Mike Rother, researcher and author (Learning to See, Toyota Kata, and others books) was NWIRC’s guest last month to share Improvement Kata. Over 80 manufacturers attended his session describing how improvement kata can help employees work as a team to achieve difficult goals. Following his presentation, everyone participated in an hour-long, hands-on simulation based on completing a child’s puzzle as quickly as possible. Numerous rounds of the exercise included team collaboration, experimentation, and documentation in order to meet established goals. Participants commented on how this simple exercise is very transferrable to everyday work and life. Evaluations of the program reflected that numerous companies will run the exercise with their management team and employees to start this pattern of thinking and assist with cultural change and continuous improvement initiatives.

Students from Allegheny College participating in the improvement kata exercise

While in the region, Rother also conducted his Kata in the Classroom exercise with educators in both Meadville and Erie. His goal was to teach educators how to use improvement kata with their students for various activities and projects. Wendy Kedzierski, of Allegheny College, ran the exercise the very next day with her group of students. She said, “We can lead this activity when we introduce the challenge of creating poster presentations at our annual student research symposium. This would help break the process down for the students,” she said.

Since many companies at the program for manufacturers indicated a desire for additional training, NWIRC will host an Improvement and Coaching Kata course in Erie on February 6-8, facilitated by a certified instructor from TWI Institute. Check www.nwirc.org/events for more details.

Pictures below show manufacturing participants during the Improvement Kata exercise