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I recently purchased a new car, one of those models that are built in the United Kingdom by a giant Japanese manufacturer. I first looked at the model about three years ago but was far from enticed to make a purchase.

But, three years on and after a vast range of improvements the car had been turned into a vehicle that I wanted to be seen driving. This boost to their sales figures was the result of a process that the Japanese call Kaizen, or continuous improvement, usually small improvements that create a whole that is greater than its individual parts.

Kaizen is not necessarily something that is led from the top it is an intrinsic part of every employee’s job, from the chief executive to the people who clean the shop floor. In many cases every employee of every company in the supply chain is also involved in the Kaizen strategy.

At Toyota this Kaizen continuous improvement process is enhanced by Kata another Japanese word that is more widely used to describe the routine of movements that people who are involved in martial arts do. The continuous practice leads to continuous improvements. It is a bit like the Anglo-Saxon concept of practice makes perfect.

You can download the free getAbstract book summary of The Toyota Kata Practice Guide here.

As someone who is involved in work place learning I recognise that this is a form of training that is quite different to that used in many western organisations.

In the West training is often a one-off activity that may be repeated later if the employee fails to perform at the required standard. Within a Kaizen and Kata organisation like Toyota learning is part of work that is repeated, in order to avoid performance issues not to remedy them.

Mike Rother first wrote about the approach in 2009, now in a new book he examines what the readers of that original have learnt from applying the Toyota approach in their own organisations. The result is a more sophisticated, heavily illustrated guide that is focused on the fundamentals, so it is a book that is useful for someone who is new to Kaizen and Kata, as well as the experienced practitioner.

As its title suggests this is an extremely practical guide to a different approach that connects learning, working and continuous improvement for both employees and employers. What you will learn from this free getAbstract book summary:

  • How to understand Kata culture methods for continual improvement,
  • How to start and establish a Kata culture in your organization, and
  • How to teach your employees to use the scientific approach to problem solving

You can download the free getAbstract book summary of The Toyota Kata Practice Guide here

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During a career as a human resources and employee development professional that started in 1981 Michael Millward has worked around the world in a wide range of businesses from start-ups to major conglomerates. His industry experience includes, local and national government, manufacturing, financial services, retail, distribution, hi-tech, e-commerce.

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