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Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

Culture Change Through the Toyota Kata- Practical Leadership Tips

I’ve heard culture defined as, “what most of the people do, most of the time.” Leaders are constantly faced with the challenge to improve their financial situation, but culture often seems to hold them back (Pay, 2008).

The Toyota Kata process is a guidebook for obtaining a more disciplined and focused culture. The Kata process includes both any improvement facet and a coaching facet. These two practices help leaders to guide their organizations toward financial goals while developing a culture through mentoring people.

When I discussed the Toyota Kata with a former Toyota group leader, she said, “They never told us that was what they were trying to do.” I agree.

When the USA Toyota plants began, each new leader had a highly experienced Toyota coach to help them develop a PDCA (problem solving) mindset. These coaches came up through the Toyota organization and brought the skills with them to develop their counterparts in the USA. They didn’t need to change a culture as much as they were just transferring their PDCA approach into a new location.

However, if you don’t have the benefit of an experienced coach, how will you learn to develop the PDCA mindset, particularly in an established company? I believe this is where Rother’s Toyota Kata approach can help.

The two Kata processes provide a guide for developing a problem solving mindset for those who don’t have the benefit of an experienced Toyota coach. The Improvement Kata helps people focus on making small, steady progress toward a necessary goal. While this occurs, the leader is using the Coaching Kata to develop the mindset for problem solving within his team.

If you want to learn more about the Toyota Kata process, the Auburn Technical Assistance Center is hosting Mike Rother in a one-day seminar on July 17, 2012 in Athens, AL. You will have the opportunity to hear directly from the researcher and author of the Toyota Kata book about this interesting management training technique. If you are looking for the latest leadership training methods to drive your continuous improvement activities, come join us for this exciting seminar.

For registration information, go to


Key Words: Leadership training, continuous improvement, Management training, Toyota Kata

Pay, R. (2008, May 1). Everybody's jumping on the lean bandwagon, but many are being taken for a ride. Retrieved 10/15/08, from

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