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The Importance of Implementing Leader Starter Kata During a Pandemic

 November 13, 2020

One of the biggest challenges a business faces is how to increase productivity and decrease costs. To do that, businesses must change their practice of “business as usual” and find new ways to keep employees motivated and engaged. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Manufacturing Solutions division is instrumental in helping hundreds of Arkansas manufacturers do just that through Continuous Improvement initiatives, including Leader Starter Kata.

On January 13, 2021, AEDC is hosting a webinar for small to mid-sized manufacturing firms interested in the most cutting-edge ways to maintain a continuous improvement environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) will guide leaders concerned about maintaining a Toyota Kata culture in their workplace.

The “leader” is the person who is ultimately responsible for the end results, even if the leader designates the role to someone else. The leader needs to understand where the company wants to go and must know how to use the resources at his disposal at the right time for the right reasons to get there. To do that, Mike Rother’s 4-step Toyota Kata model includes vision/direction, understanding of current conditions, defining the target condition, and uncovering obstacles while working toward the target condition. Continuous improvement builds on what is learned along the way so that the business can adapt and move forward. Throughout the process, the leader must evaluate whether or not the team is succeeding based on available data and a “gut feeling.”

Fortunately, there are concrete indicators the leader can use to make his decisions, including reports that detail quality, cost, delivery, etc. He can also depend on his gut feelings. Utilizing the scorecard below, the leader can establish a challenge, determine the current condition, set a target condition, identify obstacles and experiment toward solutions. The leader uses a scale of 0 to 10 to evaluate how well a team performs in the areas of processes (quality, cost delivery), communication (accurate, complete, timely), and people (safety, equipment, morale).

Screen Shot 2020-11-13 at 12.52.42 PMThe results provide a baseline for the next steps which are vital to improving the key performance indicator averages over the challenge period and provide the leader with an effective starting point into the 4-step Toyota Kata methodology to manage the Continuous Improvement journey (see below).

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Along the way, experiments that are conducted result in “wedges” that achieve stability and prevent regression.

As you seek to achieve your company’s goals, AEDC’s Manufacturing Solutions team can be your trusted advisors. We will work with you to develop customized solutions to accelerate your success, such as helping your leader utilize the Leader Starter Kata program as an executive coaching tool.

Please contact our Manager of Client Services, Bill Kraus, at [email protected] with any questions.

Click here to register for the webinar.