March 1, 2023

by Britney Rivers

Lean practitioners Toni Benner and Elizabeth Aikman are launching a new process improvement course called Kata Mindset. The course will have offerings in April, July, and October of 2023. In addition to an interactive classroom experience, attendees will spend a day at Zingerman’s, a nationally renowned business that depends on Kata in its warehouse. The Kata Mindset course focuses on scientific thinking and building sustainable habits to help organizations reach their full potential.


Two experienced Kata practitioners, Toni Benner and Elizabeth Aikman, lead this new course. They are both extremely passionate about working with people and helping learners grow. 

Toni Benner
Toni Benner

Toni Benner has been teaching with Nexus as a Lean Healthcare and Kata for Daily Improvement instructor since 2009. Throughout her career, Toni has studied, developed, and explored an interest in Lean systems improvement and human development. She has leveraged Kata in her work across various industries, including non-profit, healthcare, and automotive. 

As a scholar-practitioner in the Doctorate of Organizational Development and Change program at Bowling Green State University, Toni’s research focuses on approaches to foster engagement, inclusivity, and widespread change within teams. Through the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, she serves as Director of Creativity and Partnership in the Just Conversations program, aimed at actualizing social justice within public service industries to enhance well-being and ignite growth within individuals, organizations, and communities. 

Elizabeth Aikman
Elizabeth Aikman

Elizabeth Aikman comes from a diverse healthcare background with experience in nursing and quality improvement. As a coach and consultant, she has worked with teams throughout the New York City healthcare system to improve organizational performance and team development. Her passion for learning and human development has led her to embark on graduate studies of Positive Organization Development and Change at Case Western Reserve University, deepening her appreciation for whole system change, principles of social constructionism, and organizations as living systems. 


Toni and Elizabeth are seasoned Kata practitioners today. However, they did not always have knowledge of the practice. Both instructors took unique journeys to embrace a Kata mindset. 

Toni was introduced to Kata by a colleague while working at a local non-profit in 2008. Toni immediately recognized the potential of deliberately developing the skills within herself and others and has been practicing ever since.  

Toni shares, “Kata helps us stay focused on what matters most and build a long-term sustainable problem-solving process. Kata provides an approach to develop human potential, bring new ideas to the team, and coach more effectively.”

Elizabeth’s journey was quite different. After discovering Kata, she found numerous practical applications in her daily life and her professional development in healthcare. Elizabeth shares, “I am a marathon runner. The pattern that Kata teaches us mirrors the way that many athletes train.” Also reflecting on her professional development, she acknowledges the way the Kata mindset has supported her learning and growth to be where she is today.  

Both instructors are passionate about the Kata methodology and are excited to share their practice, knowledge, and experiences with learners this spring.

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