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Kata Coaching Dojo: Guiding Your Teams to Lean Excellence

Adeline de Oliveira
Kata Coaching Dojo for Lean: a powerful tool to guide your teams

The quest for operational excellence has long been the ultimate goal in operations and production management. In recent years, however, a powerful approach has gained ground and has been adopted by many team leaders and established coaches: Kata Coaching Dojo.

This innovative integrated method, rooted in Lean management principles, enables directors and frontline managers to transform themselves by developing excellent coaching skills to foster continuous improvement and promote a learning culture within their organization.  

In this article, we offer you a more in-depth understanding of the nature of Kata Coaching Dojo, its importance in optimizing Lean Management practices, the essential role of the coach in this process, and how to set up an effective Kata Coaching Dojo.

Key takeways:

  • Kata Coaching Dojo is a practical approach to lean management that focuses on continuous improvement and skill development.
  • The methodology emphasizes deliberate practice, reflection, and collaboration to build a culture of learning and problem-solving.
  • By implementing Coaching Dojo, organizations can enhance their problem-solving capabilities, empower employees, and drive sustainable improvements.
  • The approach fosters a growth mindset, encourages experimentation, and enables teams to adapt to changing circumstances effectively.

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Understanding Kata Coaching Dojo 

Before going into detail, it's essential to grasp the basic concepts. The term "kata" originates in Japanese martial arts, where it refers to a series of movements and techniques repeated to master a specific skill. 

In the context of Lean Management, a "kata" refers to a routine or pattern of behavior practiced to develop specific skills and mindsets to improve people's performance in companies. Through repeated practice, each kata becomes a reflex. 

Mike Rother popularized the concept in his book Toyota Kata, where he stressed the importance of a deliberate routine to foster a culture of continuous improvement.

The Kata Coaching Dojo takes this concept a step further. This hands-on training method provides a structured environment for teams to practice specially designed training exercises to adopt Lean thinking more effectively. The dojo is a training setup where everyone can experiment, learn, and master improvement kata practices through specific iterative cycles.

Importance of Kata Coaching Dojo for Lean Management 

Kata Coaching Dojo plays an essential role in Lean management, acting as a catalyst for organizational transformation. It enables you to: 

  • Bridge the gap between theory and practice;
  • Develop coaching skill;
  • Increase the learning process through frequent guided coaching practice;
  • Build a learning culture;
  • Stimulate employee engagement and well-being;
  • Encourage continuous improvement.

Who is the Kata Coaching Dojo for? 

Although it can be used by all members of the management team, this method will be particularly useful to you if you occupy the position of director or proximity manager in operations and production. Because of your role and responsibilities in the company, your coaching ability is an essential skill. It will help you on several major points, such as:

  • Operational decision-making; by helping you improve your ability to solve problems and make decisions based on accurate data. 
  • Achieving continuous improvement; giving you the keys to cultivating and promoting it within your teams.
  • Coaching; by teaching you to develop great coaching skill. 
  • Change management; by preparing you to approach challenges with a positive outlook, analyze difficulties systematically, and implement appropriate solutions.
  • Vision transmission; helps you to align your teams' actions with the organization's overall objectives.

IMPROVE YOUR SUPERVISION TOURS Gemba: Ultimate GuideDownload nowYour role as a coach in the Kata Dojo

Here, the coach's job is to act as a guide and facilitator of learning. He must have a solid understanding of business processes, as well as communication and leadership skills. He must be able to create a safe and open environment where employees ("learners") can try, learn and fail without fear of judgment.

The coach and learner work hand in hand with a common goal. The coach guides, observes, questions, and listens. The learner plans, acts on the ground, and adjusts if necessary. There is thus an interdependence between these two players.   

How to implement an effective Kata Dojo setup - Kata Coaching Dojo

Key points for a successful coach/learner relationship

Establishing a relationship of trust

Indeed, the relationship between coach and learner is the fundamental pillar of Kata Coaching Dojo's success. A relationship of mutual trust enables the learner to feel comfortable sharing his or her challenges, doubts, and successes. The coach, for his part, must be an active listener, empathetic, available, and committed to the learner's development. 

It is through this relationship that coaching becomes truly effective, enabling honest and constructive exchanges.

Communication skills

Good communication between the coach and the learner is essential. The coach needs to ask open-ended, stimulating questions to encourage the learner's reflection and awareness. He/she should also provide constructive and specific feedback, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. 

Two-way communication enables improvement strategies to be adjusted and the approach to be tailored to the learner's needs.

Follow the continuous improvement process

Kata Coaching Dojo follows a four-step continuous improvement process: Plan, Do, Check, and Adjust. 

  • In the planning phase, the learner and coach define a clear objective and identify the steps to achieve it. 
  • The implementation phase (Do) involves repeating the task or process according to the plan. 
  • Verification involves assessing results against the objective. 
  • Finally, in the adjustment phase, modifications are made based on lessons learned.

3 Methods to Implement Now HOW TO ACHIEVE OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE Download our WhitepaperCoaching Kata: your main functions as a coach

So it's you, directors and local managers, who take on the role of coach in the Kata Dojo. Your job is to guide learners through the process of improving and developing their skills. As such, several key functions fall to you:

Guidance and support

You're there to support and guide employees through the improvement process. You have to give them direction, suggest ideas and ensure that the members involved understand the objectives and principles of Kata.  

Teaching routines 

Kata repeatedly practice (or patterns of behavior) are at the heart of Kata Coaching Dojo. So you need to teach these reflexes to learners, with an emphasis on problem-solving and improvement. Explain the steps, techniques, and actions associated with each routine, ensuring that individuals grasp the basic principles.

Promote continuous improvement

To foster a culture of continuous improvement, encourage employees to repeat their practices. Help them identify incremental improvements, develop new ideas, and experiment with different approaches.  

Empower employees  

As a coach, one of your key objectives is to enable teams to become autonomous problem-solvers. Start by giving direct advice, then let them find their improvement solutions. This will develop their sense of responsibility and confidence to tackle challenges independently. 

Cultivate the idea of growth

Encourage your learners to see challenges as learning opportunities, embrace experimentation, and remain open to trying new approaches.

Main functions of the coach - Kata Coaching Dojo

The 5 questions of the Kata Coaching Dojo

These five questions are an excellent starting point. They are designed to guide the continuous improvement process in the context of the Improvement Kata pattern. They are designed to help learners reflect critically on their activities, identify obstacles and develop action plans to achieve their goals.

  • What is the target condition? - Final objective to be achieved
  • What is the current condition? - Current situation regarding the target
  • What are the obstacles or challenges to achieving the target condition? - Causes
  • What is the next step? - Concrete action or series of actions to overcome the obstacles identified
  • What have we learned from this experience? - Lessons learned from experimentation

Coach and learner relationship - Kata Coaching Dojo

These five questions form an iterative cycle that guides the continuous improvement process. By answering them, the learner can progressively refine his or her actions and get closer to the set objective while encouraging a reflective and adaptive approach.

WE COACH YOUR MANAGERS TO BECOME True Team LeadersDownload our brochure

Setting up a Kata Coaching Dojo requires an adapted and planned approach. Here are 8 key steps to follow:

1. Define a clear objective

Identify a specific improvement objective that the learner wishes to achieve. This could relate to an operational process, a specific skill, or any other relevant aspect. Make sure the objective is measurable and achievable.

2. Building the relationship

Create an environment of trust by building a solid coach/learner relationship. The coach must be fully involved in the learner's development. He or she must demonstrate emotional intelligence and openness.

3. Plan

Develop a detailed plan to achieve the goal. Identify the specific steps to be taken, the resources required, and the deadlines. Involve the learner in the process to foster commitment and mutual understanding.

4. Organize coaching sessions

Organize regular coaching sessions where the learner works on the identified task or process. During these sessions, the coach can ask questions, offer advice and encourage reflection.

5. Repeat practice

Repeating coaching situations is key. It helps build mastery and positive reflexes.

Encourage the learner to perform the task or process iteratively.  

6. Offer constructive feedback

Observe employees as they perform routines, and offer constructive feedback after each coaching session. Focus on the positive aspects while identifying opportunities for improvement. Ensure that feedback is specific, measurable, and linked to the defined objective.

7. Reflect, evaluate, and adjust

Encourage learners to reflect on their progress, challenges, and learning. Regularly compare results achieved with the initial objective to assess improvements. If obstacles or problems arise along the way, make adjustments. It's important to adapt to the challenges you encounter.

8. Sustain the improvement

Once the initial objective has been achieved, make the improvements sustainable by maintaining the new practices and monitoring performance. Then it's time for new challenges and projects.

Don't forget to celebrate the learner's successes and achievements - it's important! It reinforces motivation and boosts self-confidence.

Roles of the coach and learner - Kata Coaching Dojo

From practice to perfection: how the Kata Coaching Dojo transforms your approach to Lean Management

In the field of Lean Management, the Kata Coaching Dojo provides a solid framework for improving operational performance, production, and corporate competitiveness. The relationship between coach and learner is at the heart of this method, providing a safe, open, and collaborative learning environment. By cultivating effective communication and following a continuous improvement process, directors and frontline managers can transform themselves by revealing their inner coach, thus fostering excellence within their teams, as well as the personal and professional development of their employees.

By putting these structured routines in place, accompanied by expert support, the organization is transformed into an agile, more human, high-performance entity focused on the future.

FAQ - Kata Coaching Dojo

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Need help to become a coach and set up Kata Dojo in your company? 

Here's an opportunity to transform your organization into an engine of excellence! 

Thanks to their expertise in Lean Management and their mastery of Kata Dojo, Proaction International's coaches will help you identify opportunities for progress, develop the necessary skills and create a sustainable culture of continuous improvement.

Adeline de Oliveira

Adeline de Oliveira

Writer and editorial manager for about 15 years, Adeline de Oliveira is passionate about human behavior and communication dynamics. At Proaction International, she covers topics ranging from Industry 5.0 to operational excellence, with a focus on leadership development. This expertise enables her to offer insights and advice on employee engagement and continuous improvement of managerial skills.