The first step of the Improvement Kata, "Understand the Direction or Challenge," is often overlooked, yet it is the important context for the three steps that follow. In this Summer's Kata video, Tyler Fife of BiAmp Systems in Portland, OR defines what a Challenge is, how it fits in and what happens when you skip over this step of the IK pattern. Future-State Mapping is one good way to define your Challenge.
Gerd Aulinger has worked as a researcher, consultant, seminar leader, production manager and speaker for the past 12 years. After research work at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart Gerd became an internal lean consultant for DaimlerChrysler AG, where he managed various lean projects and won two MPS prizes and an MPS award. From 2007 to 2011 he was a production manager at Festool’s prize-winning Neidlingen plant, where he worked with his team to develop a highly-motivated, learning organization. Gerd currently coaches managers in the application of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata, with a view to achieving exceptional results.
Barb Bouché is Director of Continuous Performance Improvement at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her consulting practice and leadership efforts focus specifically on the tools, systems and principles that lead to lean transformation within the healthcare environment. Barb has been a key principle in the strategic plan and implementation of lean (CPI) management at Seattle Children’s since 1997. Barb has a BA from Chico State University in Family Studies and an M Ed. in organizational development from Seattle University.
Beth Carrington is an independent consultant who works with client Advance Groups on their Toyota Kata management-routine learning, practice and deployment. Since 1999 Beth has been leading organizations in lean implementation, and has helped a diverse group of clients; small and large, repetitive and custom processors. Prior to consulting, Beth has over 20 years experience in leadership roles in the personal care, furniture and automotive industries. Beth is one of the University of Michigan and LEI Toyota Kata instructors.
Bill Costantino was one of the very first employees at Toyota's Georgetown, KY auto plant where he worked as a Group Leader for seven years. He has subsequently worked for the last 17 years as an independent consultant, supporting companies making the transition to more lean ways of operating. He has consulted extensively across a wide range of clients in diverse industries. For the last 2 years, Bill has been collaborating closely with Mike Rother, author of "Toyota Kata". Mike & Bill have developed and now co-lead a three-day professional development workshop with the University of Michigan, teaching the underlying philosophy and critical routines of the Toyota Kata approach to management. Bill is also an LEI Toyota Kata instructor.
Jeremiah Davis is a Manufacturing Engineer at A-dec, Inc. (an Oregon-based manufacturer of dental chairs, cabinets, delivery systems and lights), with a primary focus on coaching and training. He has been practicing the Improvement Kata since 2011 and has developed and led Kata training for dozens of individuals. Although he knows he is still in the early stages of learning, Jeremiah has ignited a new culture and mindset change that continues to grow across A-dec. Jeremiah 1st and 2nd coaches up to 39 coaching cycles a day, teaching that struggles and obstacles are opportunities to learn and grow. The Improvement Kata & Coaching Kata thinking patterns are so ingrained in Jeremiah that he has transferred them to his home life.
Since 1989 Richard Fleming (Rick) has worked with hundreds of companies on Lean enterprise transformation and organizational development around the principles of the Toyota Production System. He has worked with a diverse group of clients that includes manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organizations and food/chemical processors.
Rick is co-author of “Lean Sigma Methods and Tools for Service Organizations” (2012, Business Expert Press), a lead instructor for Grand Rapid Community College’s Lean Certification Program and a Shingo Prize Examiner. He assisted Shingo award winners Metalworks (2007 Shingo Prize) and Micron Manufacturing (2008 silver medallion Shingo Prize) with their journeys to operational excellence. Rick began working with Mike Rother and Kiyoshi Suzaki in 1989 to help companies deploy Lean principles through Continuous Improvement User Groups in the Midwest. He now collaborates with the Kata community in on-going development of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata routines & materials.
Rick’s current focus is creating and aligning leadership systems to support operational changes to Lean thinking, develop accountability and driving a daily continuous improvement philosophy through practicing the Toyota Kata patterns.
Håkan Forss is a lean/agile coach, public speaker and author with a system architecture and software development background. Håkan coaches, mentors and teaches Lean and Agile thinking, methods and tools to organizations, teams and individuals. He develops people’s ability to continuously learn and improve how work is done. Håkan is an LKU Accredited Kanban Trainer and is an active member of the Kanban, Lean and Agile communities.
Dennis Gawlik is a teacher, speaker and Lean coach. He has taught sustainable operations at several universities – the last 9 years at Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), the nation’s first sustainable MBA program, where he worked with H. Thomas Johnson and Bill Costantino. Toyota Kata is an integral part of the educational program in sustainable operations there. Dennis acquired extensive Lean knowledge during 20+ years in operations, logistics and supply management, initially as a logistics supplier to Toyota in Georgetown, KY. Dennis has worked in Lean and Toyota Way process developments at a variety of Fortune 500 organizations, most recently as an internal Lean consultant at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Dennis has a BA from Northwestern University and an MS from Penn State. He lives on Bainbridge Island, WA with his family.
Richard Green started his Lean journey at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK in 1992, where he was trained and developed in all aspects of the Toyota Production System and best practices. He was taught by TMC trainers prior to and during the set up of the UK plant, initially responsible for the conveyance systems, moving into production line management and then in 2001 moving to the engine plant with responsibility for Machined Components and Engine Assembly. In 2010 Richard joined B/E Aerospace as Operational Excellence Manager, responsible for supporting the introduction, coaching and teaching of Lean Manufacturing systems and tools; to drive a Lean culture across the business at all levels. Richard is currently responsible for the training and daily coaching of the Improvement Kata with the goal of changing the culture to support growth through deployment of a daily routine for business improvement.
Craig Kennedy is Vice President North American Manufacturing Operations and Consumer Care for Merck & Co. Craig has worked for Merck for 15 years in various manufacturing, planning and operations improvement roles. Craig has a Bachelor of Science in Pure Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Sydney, Australia. Craig enjoys his wife and children, flying, cooking, photography and karate in his spare time. Craig has been working with the IK and CK since early 2010.
Dr. Jeffrey K. Liker is a professor of industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan. He is the president of Liker Lean Advisers and CEO of the Liker Leadership Institute (online leadership training). Liker is author of the international best-seller, The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer (2004) and has co-authored seven other books about Toyota including Toyota Culture and The Toyota Product Development System. His most recent books from 2011 are The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement and The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership. His articles and books have received 11 Shingo Prizes for Research Excellence. In 2012, he was inducted into the AME Hall of Fame.
Michael Lombard is an experienced leader in healthcare performance improvement, currently serving as Director of Operational Excellence at an acute care hospital in the Dallas-Ft. Worth region. His mission is to continuously grow his understanding of kaizen in healthcare settings and to help healthcare systems deliver ever-increasing value to customers. His record of successful improvement initiatives ranges from the redesign of highly clinical processes to the establishment of comprehensive, hospital-wide Lean strategies. Michael is continually learning the Toyota Kata approach; sharing his lessons learned and supporting others on their Lean-learning journeys.
Constantin May is Professor at Ansbach University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Prior to joining Ansbach University Constantin worked as a consultant and manager at a large automotive supplier company. He is founder and academic director of the CETPM - a University Institute specialized in teaching Lean Management and Total Productive Management. CETPM is also the host of the annual German KATA Practioner Day and provides several KATA seminars and courses. Constantin is currently experimenting with the Improvement Kata & Coaching Kata in office environments.
Kyle Muramatsu is a Lean practitioner who has led continuous improvement efforts in semiconductor fabrication, flash-sale fulfillment and production photography. After championing Lean efforts at Microchip Technology, Inc. in Gresham, Oregon, Kyle joined Zulily Inc. in 2013, where he introduced Kata to the fulfillment and studio departments. Kata played a key role in operations at Zulily, as the company grew from a zero to multibillion dollar valuation in just a few years.
Tyson Ortiz is a Lean Project Specialist at Aerojet in Sacramento, CA, where he focuses on the application of lean to transactional systems (versus traditional manufacturing environments). His background is in Quality Engineering for defense programs and he has a BA in Applied Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley. After being introduced to lean and Toyota Kata in 2012, he is now devoted to studying lean and practicing the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata in support of Aerojet’s transformation into a learning organization. At home, Tyson and his wife are kept busy raising two young children and have found the patterns of Toyota Kata to be valuable in that endeavor as well.
Tadas Puksta is an Improvement Kata trainer and coach in Lithuania. He is a founder of the Lean Academy Lithuania and works with companies on practicing and deploying Toyota Kata management routines. In 2003 Tadas started practicing Lean thinking with sensei from Japan and for the past three years he's been coaching owners, CEOs and managers in Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata almost every day. Tadas has experience in Furniture, Textile, Shipbuilding, Construction, Electronics, Banking, Biotechnology and other industries.
Nicole Purrier began her career as a photographer for a variety of ecommerce companies in Seattle, WA. While at Zulily, she was selected to be a part of a small team in the product photography studio where Kata was deployed to improve its processes. The success and impressive accomplishments of the Kata team led her to pursue project management full time, leaving behind photography. She is currently managing the photo editing department at the sustainable fashion e-commerce startup, Reformation, in Los Angeles.
Mark Rosenthal has been teaching and leading continuous improvement across diverse industries, including heavy industry, consumer products, process industries and the service sector for over 20 years. Today he is an independent consultant to companies who are striving to shape their internal culture to drive improvement every day. Mark shares what he is learning on theleanthinker.com.
Mike is an engineer, a researcher, teacher and speaker on the subjects of management, leadership, improvement, adaptiveness, and change in human organizations. He is co-author of two LEI workbooks, Learning to See: value-stream mapping to add value and eliminate muda, which received a Shingo Research Prize in 1999 and Creating Continuous Flow: an action guide for managers, engineers and production associates, which received a Shingo prize in 2003. He co-developed the accompanying Training to See kit that teaches facilitators how to run value-stream mapping workshops. His latest book is Toyota Kata (McGraw-Hill), which received a Shingo prize in 2011. Mike's affiliations have included the Industrial Technology Institute (Ann Arbor), the University of Michigan College of Engineering, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (Stuttgart), and the Technical University Dortmund. Mike began his career in the manufacturing division of Thyssen AG.
Meryl Runion is an author, speaker, researcher, and the creator of "The SpeakStrong Method". She wrote ten books on effective communication and is currently writing "Perfect Phrases for Lean and Continuous Improvement". She applies her communication principles and techniques to leadership and leadership development, management, administration, teamwork and improvement through collaboration.
Karsten Seydel is Lean Program Manager and Kata Leadership Coach for Siemens AG Large Gas Turbines worldwide. Karsten started his Kata experiments at the Berlin Gas Turbine Plant. Today he coaches managers in using the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata as a core Leadership approach for driving cultural change inside his division of Siemens.
Julie Simmons is Executive Director for the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium (NWHPEC) in Portland, OR. Julie promotes the vision/mission/purpose of the consortium, organizes continuous improvement learning events, coordinates benchmarking & sharing between consortium members and meets the continuous improvement learning needs of the membership. In this role Julie also provides direct Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata coaching and training to individuals and organizations within the NWHPEC membership. Julie spent 14 years with Boeing, where she learned and developed her Lean thinking skills, became a Certified Accelerated Improvement Workshop leader and worked with the Shingijutsu Consulting firm in formal Kaizen events.
Alex Thomason is a Lean Master at Nike, Inc. where he is growing Improvement Kata thinking in order to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium and is also focused on bringing the Improvement Kata pattern to life in his volunteer work with youth soccer. Alex’s 18-year career includes leadership of Continuous Improvement, Engineering, and Quality organizations in the electronics and consumer products industries. Alex has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Jeff Uitenbroek is the Director of Modine Operating System at Modine Manufacturing Company, where he leads the ongoing development and use of the Modine Operating System for Modine worldwide. Jeff joined Modine in 2003 as Continuous Improvement Manager, and became the Director, Modine Operating System in July of 2009. Prior to joining Modine, Jeff was in the optical media industry, including 15 years at 3M Company, in a variety of engineering, technical service, operations and management positions. Jeff received a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a member of ASQ and an ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt.
Emiel van Est is a Toyota Kata ambassador based in The Netherlands. He is an independent consultant who works with clients on their Toyota Kata management-routine learning, practice and deployment. In 1997 Emiel started improving and designing processes for Hewlett Packard and has since then helped a diverse group of clients in many different industries with their Lean efforts. Prior to consulting, Emiel was engineering special equipment to make new production processes feasible. Emiel has a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Hogeschool Haarlem, Netherlands.
Todd Weston is the Director of Manufacturing Engineering for Amtrol Inc. in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Over his 22-year career with Amtrol Todd has held numerous positions ranging from machine operator to his current role as a Director. Todd was an initial member of the Kaizen Promotion Team when Amtrol first embarked on its Lean journey in 1999. Todd is currently learning and practicing the Improvement Kata & Coaching Kata, and working to define Amtrol’s Kata for Continuous Evolution in both the U.S. and Portugal.