• Kata for Daily Improvement

Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement, Adaptation, and Innovation

This practical three-day workshop taught by experts Drew Locher and Toni Benner will focus on the Improvement Kata—a routine for rapid PDCA cycles—and the Coaching Kataa routine for leaders to develop the improvement skills of others. You will have the opportunity to practice both Katas in a simulation. Together, they provide the methodology to create a culture of daily improvement.

Gain Skills and Techniques You Can Use Right Away


Program Faculty & Coaches
Toni Benner
Toni Benner
Lead Faculty, Lean Healthcare
Founder and Lean Transformation Coach, Healthcare 2020
Drew Locher
Drew Locher
President, Change Management Associates
Betty Gratopp
Betty Gratopp
Lead Production Manager, Zingerman's Mail Order

Schedule and Special Events
Day 1 - Simulation, Overview of Improvement & Coaching Kata
  • Welcome, Introductions
  • Introduction to Simulation
    • Round 1 of the simulation, collect baseline metrics
    • Identify opportunities for improvement
  • Overview of Improvement and Coaching Kata
    • Background
    • Compare & contrast to continuous improvement practices at your organization
  • Improvement Kata Practice
    • Understanding the direction
      • Create high level Value Stream Map for simulation
    • Introduction to Storyboards
      • Identify vision, challenge, and focus process for simulation storyboard of round 2 of simulation, collect current condition data
    • Grasp the Current Condition
      • Create Value Stream Map for simulation
      • Update storyboards
    • Identifying a Target Condition
    • The PDCA process
    • Round 3 of simulation, conduct first experiment, collect new current condition data - Reflections of Day 1

After a long day, we have a fun change of pace for you that has a connection with the growing Kata community. Mike Rother will join Drew and Toni to discuss what's happening with Kata in education and take you through a simple exercise that helps anyone teach scientific thinking. It's called "Kata in the Classroom" (KiC). 

The KiC exercise is now also being used by companies as a simple and highly interactive introduction to the four steps of the Improvement Kata. We'd like to share the KiC exercise as you may find it useful in your own deployment of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata, and it would be highly useful for school teachers in your community.

To see Mike talk about several unique qualities of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata, check out his opening remarks from the 2016 Kata Summit. 

Day 2 - Coaching Kata, Deploying Kata in Your Organization
  • The Coaching Kata
    • Demonstration
    • Attendees practice in conjunction with simulation PDCA cycles (Rounds 4 & 5)
  • Deploying Kata in your organization
    • Review proven approaches
    • Developing second coaches
    • Developing your plan, participants share their plans going forward
  • Reflections of Day 2
Day 3 - Zingerman's Mail Order Practitioner Day
  • Observe Zingerman’s Mail Order (ZMO) Kata practice
  • Review ZMO’s Kata journey, deployment approach, lessons learned, Q & A
  • Tour of Zingerman’s Mail Order
  • Observe ZMO’s ‘Open Book’ meeting with associates
  • Participants get to select from the following activity:
    • Practice Improvement Kata in assigned area in ZMO, conduct a rapid PDCA cycle and a coaching cycle
    • Receive one-on-one coaching from course instructors on your kata deployment
  • Q&A and wrap-up

In addition to classroom instruction, our upcoming Kata workshop will include a few special features and events:

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Zingerman's Mail Order

Practitioner Day 

On Day Three, you will have the opportunity see Kata in action at Zingerman's Mail Order, an online gourmet food shop that does annual sales of nearly $18 million. Participants can learn firsthand from ZMO after years of practicing Kata. Learn what worked, didn?t work, and adaptations that ZMO has made along the way. This is an incredible opportunity for participants to learn directly from successful practitioners and get their questions answered before returning to their organizations.

Since making Kata a daily routine, ZMO's measurable results include: 

Order picker errors reduced to less than 4%

65% first-year reduction in gouda cheese waste

30% reduction in picker error for out-of-market orders (2013-2016)



Kata in the Classroom


Following Day One of the workshop, we invite you to join a simple exercise called "Kata in the Classroom" (KiC), an interactive introduction to the four steps of the Improvement Kata used to help anyone teach scientific thinking. Along with the U-M instructional team, Betty will discuss how KiC can help learners of all ages easily grasp the importance of establishing a clear target, setting achievable goals, and taking controlled steps to get there.


The Improvement Kata

A four-step sequence that is a systematic, scientific pattern for managing teams. Practicing it helps any team get better at meeting goals and challenges.

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Understand the


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Grasp the


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Establish Your


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Toward the Target Condition


The Coaching Kata

A set of teaching routines that help you develop coaching skill. It is a coaching pattern that helps managers teach Improvement Kata thinking and acting.

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the Five Coaching
Kata Questions






Proven Approaches






A plan for deploying Kata in your organization