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

Mike Rother
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 11 2009
"Toyota Kata gets to the essence of how Toyota manages continuous improvement and human ingenuity, through its improvement kata and coaching kata. Mike Rother explains why typical companies fail to understand the core of lean and make limited progress—and what it takes to make it a real part of your culture."
—Jeffrey K. Liker, bestselling author of The Toyota Way

"[Toyota Kata is] one of the stepping stones that will usher in a new era of management thinking."
—The Systems Thinker

"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

"Practicing the improvement kata is perhaps the best way we've found so far for actualizing PDCA in an organization."
—John Shook, Chairman and CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute

This game-changing book puts you behind the curtain at Toyota, providing new insight into the legendary automaker's management practices and offering practical guidance for leading and developing people in a way that makes the best use of their brainpower.

Drawing on six years of research into Toyota's employee-management routines, Toyota Kata examines and elucidates, for the first time, the company's organizational routines--called kata--that power its success with continuous improvement and adaptation. The book also reaches beyond Toyota to explain issues of human behavior in organizations and provide specific answers to questions such as:

  • How can we make improvement and adaptation part of everyday work throughout the organization?
  • How can we develop and utilize the capability of everyone in the organization to repeatedly work toward and achieve new levels of performance?
  • How can we give an organization the power to handle dynamic, unpredictable situations and keep satisfying customers?

Mike Rother explains how to improve our prevailing management approach through the use of two kata: Improvement Kata--a repeating routine of establishing challenging target conditions, working step-by-step through obstacles, and always learning from the problems we encounter; and Coaching Kata: a pattern of teaching the improvement kata to employees at every level to ensure it motivates their ways of thinking and acting.

With clear detail, an abundance of practical examples, and a cohesive explanation from start to finish, Toyota Kata gives executives and managers at any level actionable routines of thought and behavior that produce superior results and sustained competitive advantage.


Frequently Bought Together

Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results + The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Lead, Manage, and Develop Your People--the Toyota Way!

"Toyota Kata gets to the essence of how Toyota manages continuous improvement and human ingenuity, through its improvement kata and coaching kata. Mike Rother explains why typical companies fail to understand the core of lean and make limited progress—and what it takes to make it a real part of your culture."
—Jeffrey K. Liker, bestselling author of The Toyota Way

“By uncovering exactly what makes Toyota the standard bearer in a way that is accessible to every management level, in every industry, Rother has given the business world a true gem--Toyota Kata is a must read!”
Keith Allman, President, Delta Faucet Company

“Mike Rother's Toyota Kata is a rare and exciting event--a book that casts entirely new light on a much-heralded set of management practices, giving those practices new significance and power.”
from the Foreword by H. Thomas Johnson, author of Profit Beyond Measure

“In Toyota Kata, Rother has put his finger on the heart of the coaching process at Toyota. He has distilled the PDCA process to its simplest and most essential core. Much of Toyota's success is rooted in these subtle yet powerful behaviors Mike so clearly describes. Kata provides a level of clear insight into the key principles underlying Toyota culture in a way that can be easily understood and applied. Essential reading for any company committed to lasting culture change."
Bill Costantino, W3 Group, Former Group Leader TMMK (Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc.)

About the Author

Mike Rother is an engineer, a teacher, and a guest researcher at the Technical University Dortmund. Rother’s work has bought him to numerous companies and hundreds of factories around the world, where he collaborates with people to test ideas and shares lessons learned. He splits his time between Ann Arbor, and Cologne, Germany. Rother has been entered into the Association of Manufacturing Excellence's Hall of Fame.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mike Rother lays out a very clear thesis and subsequent approach to educate and guide the reader in re-calibrating certain misconceptions of lean that have become the norm in the West when modeling the Toyota way. This book is aimed more at intermediate and above level practitioners of lean, focusing on management posture, thinking and approach for understanding, coaching and applying improvement katas the true Toyota way on the uncertain journey to a long term vision.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  74 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Nov. 16 2009
By Former Automotive Tier One Divisional President and current Management Consultant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There seems to be a growing consensus that our current management model, devised in conditions that prevailed 75 years ago, is in need of adjustment. However, the burning question that still has to be answered is, to what should it be adjusted? Until that happens it's going to be difficult for leaders to change how their organizations operate. We are still missing specifics that instruct managers and leaders in what they should actually do day-to-day in order to manage more effectively and successfully in today's market conditions.

Maybe this is beginning to shift. Toyota Kata explains in clear how-to detail a way of managing people that makes a company more adaptive, innovative and constantly improving. Although the research was done in manufacturing facilities and with an eye on Toyota, Toyota Kata is more about developing and utilizing human capabilities in organizations. In short, this book lays out a management approach for today's dynamic conditions.

This is not only one of the most noteworthy books on lean management, but an insightful and practical new guide for any manager or leader. Highly recommended.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read now! Sept. 11 2009
By Michael Balle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
if you're involved in lean work in any capacity, whether in management, as a coach or as a participants to lean events, you must read this book now. It's a game changer. I wish I'd read this book ten years ago, it would have made so much, much easier. I've already ordered extra copies to give to friends and colleagues.

Rother has attacked directly a mystery about Toyota's success - the secret of what makes it a real-life example of learning organization, not just at senior level, but all the way to team leaders and team members. Indeed, he has succeeded in the tour de force of capturing the double-loop learning mechanism Toyota has developed. And he also succeeds in putting it across simply and practically with great examples. Beyond lean, this book offers deep insight into how business strategy can be derived from learning mechanism to avoid grand visions which also turn out to be grandly wrong. I suspect (or at least hope) that Rother's insights will open the door to another form of strategy formulation.

In many ways this book can either be seen as the result of twenty years of research on the mystery of Toyota and the TPS, or one the breakthrough stepping stones that will usher a new era of management thinking about how we look upon the human use of human beings at work. Thumbs up!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Next Level of Thinking in Operations Management Dec 28 2009
By Sustainable Operations - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The contents of this book should be be viewed as a major management breakthrough for "Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results". Sometimes the 'Toyota' portion in a title will lead readers to think that this is just about manufacturing. It does not - it applies to all business operations, including back office funcions like purchasing and supply management, and should be required reading for those wondering how to take their 'lean' operations to the next level.

At Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), we critically evaluate the paradigm of sustainable operations with a focus on what Dr. H. Thomas Johnson summarizes as Management by Means (MBM) instead of Management by Ends. BGI focuses on entrepreneur-ism, innovation, social justice and sustainability. Mike Rother's book is an excellent primer for practioner's discussing how to best lead people in achieving superior operational results while following a natural system approach.

In this book, Mike Rother moves beyond the 14 management principles so carefully laid out by Jeffrey Liker and helps the reader understand how to make his/her organization more innovative and flexible, while continually improving. This is the next step in continuous improvement.

When combined with the building blocks contained in Jeffrey Liker's "The Toyota Way", and Stephen Spear's "Chasing the Rabbit", Mike Rother has created a new guide for practitioners leading continuous improvement and systems thinking in operations management. This book is highly recommended.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the Most Important Book on Lean in the last 10 Years Feb. 16 2010
By Mr. Ross Maynard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Toyota Kata" could be the most important book on "lean" since "The Toyota Way". Based on six years research at Toyota, Mike Rother's book provides a very readable and straightforward approach to embedding continuous improvement - putting the "principles" of the Toyota Production System into action.

Interestingly, Mr Rother argues that the "Kaizen Event" approach to improvement is not effective or sustainable because, at best, each process area will only get one or two bursts of improvement in a year. This is not continuous improvement and does truly engage the workforce. He also argues that such events produce lists of improvements which are taken on by engineers and managers as "projects" to be completed. The project approach to improvement has little impact on changing the culture of the organisation.

Instead Mike Rother argues for constant daily improvement - thus "kata" - a simple PDCA routine which is enacted every day by everyone in the process, and supported and coached by managers and team leaders who have roughly 50% of their time allocated to teaching this approach to improvement. Small step-by-step improvements are more effective over time than occasional kaizen bursts, and have a significantly greater impact on the organisation culture -creating an environment of involvement and improvement.

The book describes this "improvement kata" routine with a rapid cycle of small improvements. It is one of the most interesting books I have read in years. The "lean tools" are touched on briefly - described as methods for highlighting obstacles in a controlled manner for improvement - but this book is about the behavioural routines that, by persistent and regular teaching at all levels in the organisation, become the embedded culture.

Everyone working in the field of lean, in any industry or organisation, should read this book. It will open your eyes to what is really necessary. If you only read one business book this year, then this should be it. This book has changed my thinking on lean - particularly on implementation. It is truly an excellent work.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Back to basics Feb. 19 2014
By Enrique Espino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Managing, leading, developing, empowering people has been a topic addressed by many authors and specialists. This is another example that brings nothing new but could help beginners deal with change, continous improvement, committment build up, etcetera.
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