Creating organizational change with kata methodology
April 25, 2023
by Britney Rivers
Lean practitioners Toni Benner and Elizabeth Aikman are launching a new process improvement course called Kata Mindset. In addition to an interactive classroom experience, participants will spend a day at Zingerman’s, a nationally renowned business that depends on Kata in its warehouse. The Kata Mindset course focuses on scientific thinking and building sustainable habits to help organizations reach their full potential.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A LEARNER CAN TAKE AWAY FROM THE KATA MINDSET COURSE?
Toni: Kata is focused on learning the basic skill sets and moving forward with that knowledge. You work to achieve a goal and move on to your next step or project when you reach success in that area. Kata can’t be mastered because it’s an ongoing practice. Another takeaway is participants can learn the value of reflection and grow as individuals or a team.
Elizabeth: I think reflection is imperative to learning Kata as a practice. You are a change agent and what that looks like in terms of your own development resonates with a certain energy. Whether you’re playing the role of a learner or a coach, you can practice the methodology in a safe and low-risk environment in the Kata Mindset course. Kata is a lens for you to see through at any point in time.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF TEACHING THE KATA METHODOLOGY?
Elizabeth: There is a point where people are very frustrated, almost to the point that Toni and I think ‘do we need to scale it back?’ But that’s what Kata is. You need to get into the mess a little bit. That’s my favorite part of the course. There’s a point after when it starts to connect and participants begin to learn the knowledge they are discussing. They realize that there is power in slowing things down and taking deliberate actions.
Toni: I think Kata is a fun experience. You have to embrace the uncertainty with this course. When I start to see people come away with aha moments I feel proud that I could be a part of the journey. My favorite part is when participants experience a moment of unlearning and plug in new habits and behaviors that lead to real structural change. It widens your view of the world and at the same time, it focuses on what matters the most.
WHAT MAKES KATA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PROCESS IMPROVEMENT IMPROVEMENT METHODS?
Elizabeth: There are definitely similarities. Kata is another lens to view process improvement. In most other process improvement methods, including Lean, there is a component of practice. There’s a component of being in action to create change. The difference is that Kata is truly a practice.
Toni: In a way, it’s complementary to a lot of other improvement methodologies. I don’t think it’s a point of comparison. I believe Kata at its roots is about the essence of learning. You have to discover what methods work best for you and your team with trial and error. Again, the differentiator is that it’s an ongoing study. The idea that Kata can be manipulated to fit whatever challenges you have is deeply embedded into its core structure.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE ABOUT THE KATA MINDSET CERTIFICATE COURSE?
Elizabeth: There are some phenomenal tools and ideas covered in the Kata Mindset certificate course. Any organization across various industries can benefit from it. We are looking forward to seeing you there.