Lean Kata

At a recent meeting of Lean Kanban Austin, Doug Russell spoke about cross-functional team kata, repeatable improvement methods. He described a general 8-step pattern for kata at the team level. This pattern gives teams a standard way to improve and to practice improving.

Coaches always spend a great deal of time and energy equipping teams to engage in ongoing improvement. Teams establish a good rhythm of feedback from customers and stakeholders. They regularly surface operational problems, perform root-cause analysis, and implement improvements. They experiment with changes to enhance their capabilities. And they do all of this systematically. The kata is an important tool in this effort.

Another example of an improvement kata, this time for individuals, comes from Paul Akers in the form of 2 Second Lean. His book is available online for free, and provides the best combination of solid lean principle and fun application that I know. It’s an easy read and well worth it.

The book takes its name from the very simple kata that Akers has his employees practice. On a daily basis, improve some process you engage by 2 seconds. That’s all there is to it!

Practicing this kata means improving something every day. Although a 2 second improvement may not amount to much by itself, they add up over time. And even more important, it puts you in the mindset to see the waste and eliminate it, which leads to greater improvements. This is the essence of kata. It lets you practice in preparation for future opportunities.

Try it yourself and see how much fun you can have eliminating waste. You’ll save time and resources, and remove non-value added activities from your processes. Read 2 Second Lean today and begin your treasure hunt.

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