The principles of the Improvement Kata can be a powerful and effective way to implement any change, including the implementation of Super7 Operations.
The Toyota Improvement Kata, or Lean Kata, is a powerful and proven method for solving problems and driving continuous improvement. And, it can also be applied to implement the change from classical operations to an agile way of working. Recently, I’ve applied the improvement kata for implementing Super7 Operations in an operational back-office.
The Toyota Improvement Kata, or Lean Kata, starts with having a vision. Some companies use the term “Our definition of awesome” for this. Others use policy deployment or Hoshin Kanri to translate the companies purpose, mission and vision to yearly goals. When you implement a different way of working, e.g. autonomous lean teams or Super7 Operations, your vision could for instance be to have your teams achieve full autonomy.
The next step is then to implement the basics. For Super7 Operations, the teams need to learn how they can plan and organize their work. The 7 principles of Super7 Operation need to be introduced. You don’t have to explain everything, learning by doing is very powerful in the first phase. This is in line with the Shu phase of the ShuHaRi approach (see my earlier post on www.cooperationalexcellence.nl).
Then, we don’t plan the transition in the classical way. No milestones. Instead, define the next target condition. For Super7 Operation, this translates to the next level of maturity, on all seven principles of Super7 Operations. For this, we’ve developed a high-over description of each of the 5 levels of maturity, for each principle of Super7 Operations. Next to this, the level of autonomy is also taken into account.
Finally, the team managers and implementation consultants decide on what experiments may help the team to reach the target condition. The actual action will depend strongly on the level of autonomy of the team. Immature teams benefit from instructions, mature teams will come into action when the right coaching questions are asked.
As you can see, this weekly cycle is based on the Improvement Kata. The results so far are very promising indeed. I will certainly continue experimenting with it myself.
Menno R. van Dijk.