How to Get Going


Kata Creates



The TK

Starter Kata


Value Stream Mapping

Supporting Materials





Improvement Kata















Kata Exercise


In practicing new skills it’s a good idea to begin small, and then adjust and expand

based on what you are learning. This page has ideas for how you can begin.

• Read this introductory article. -->

I: Briefly study the topic with your team


This video uses the

acronym “PDCA”


and the phrase “PDCA

cycles,” which is Lean

community terminology

for “experimenting.”

II: Do the 1-hour Improvement Kata exercise  (menu button on this site)

The Improvement Kata exercise (also called

“Kata in the Classroom”) is a compact, fun,

hands-on way to introduce the four steps of

the Improvement Kata. Anyone can run

this exercise, and everything you need

is on the website.

Participants will get absorbed in the puzzle

activity, but keep in mind that the purpose

is to introduce the four steps of the IK and

develop a feeling that ideas need to be tested.

The IK exercise involves teams working on a number of self-generated iterations to

complete a small puzzle. The teams follow the Improvement Kata pattern to establish

a goal and then experiment toward it from round to round.

The IK exercise works best with three or more teams, with 3 to 5 persons per team. So a

minimum number of participants is nine. The easy-to-run IK exercise is an excellent step

in learning about the Improvement Kata, and you will probably use it again and again.

Familiarize yourself with the Improvement Kata / Coaching Kata topic.

Here are three things you and your team can do:

Start practicing the Starter Kata in groups of three persons.

Learner + Coach + 2nd Coach = a practice group.

Chapters 3 and 4 in the Toyota Kata Practice Guide explain

how to organize this kind of practice.

Instructions for each Starter Kata are in Part II and Part III of the

practice guide. Practice the Starter Kata exactly as prescribed at

first. Resist the natural temptation to deviate from them too soon

just because it feels awkward. That stiff, unnatural feeling is a

normal part of doing anything new, and actually means you are

on the learning path. In a short time it should get easier and more

natural, and then you can start to deviate from the prescribed drill and start developing

your own style – building on the scientific patterns you learned from the Starter Kata.

Keep in mind that you are not testing to see if the Improvement Kata pattern or the

Starter Kata work, but how to make them work in your setting. Since every team and

context is different you’ll need to adjust what you do as you discover and learn.

You might also decide to bring in some outside coaching support to help you at the

beginning. This could be another IK/CK practitioner from your region or one of the

hundreds of experienced Toyota Kata consultants and advisors around the world.

• Read Parts I and III of the Toyota Kata Practice Guide.

This is sometimes done in a discussion group, one chapter at

a time. Part I is background information about what you are

practicing and why. Then read Part III (the Coaching Kata) to

get a picture of what daily Improvement Kata practice looks like.

• Watch this 10-minute video explaining the Improvement Kata:

III: Add Starter Kata practice to an existing activity.

This is probably the easiest way to get going with practicing

scientific thinking: Add 1 or 2 of the TK Starter Kata to something

you already do. Examples:

  1. In project meetings or daily huddles, use the Five Question Card and keep an Improvement Kata Poster on the wall nearby, to serve as a you-are-here map. The five Coaching Kata questions are an easy to learn Starter Kata, and each time you go through them it reinforces a scientific thinking pattern.

  1. If you use the A3 format, add the Experimenting Record to the right side of your A3s. This is a missing piece in many A3s.

  1. If you are running some experiments, use the Five Question Card and the

  2. Experimenting Record.

• If you do something like gemba walks, use the Five Question Card at each stop.

Note:  Avoid the temptation to add Starter Kata to several activities at once! Begin with one activity, see how it goes and what you learn, and adjust. Expand as you gain experience.