Kanban Katas and Recipes – Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 session #klrat

You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. —Alvin Toffler

This session was a follow up on my Kanban Kata session on day 2. I was volunteered to do this session, which I did not mind at all. This session had two topics:

  1. Do we need a vision to get started with Improvement Kata?
  2. Recipes (Katas) for improvement + discussions

My goal for the session was to find some Kanban Katas and Recipes and then start defining the actual steps.

Do we need a vision to get started with Improvement Kata?

But we started the session discussing if a process vision al ’a the Toyota Kata vision is needed to get started. We discussed at length what an actual Toyota Kata really is all about. Is it a regular business mission? A vision for how a process should work?

We looked at what Toyotas vision looked like:

Toyota has for several decades been pursuing a long-term vision that consists of:

  • Zero defects
  • 100 percent value added
  • One-piece flow, in sequence, on demand
  • Security for people

Mike Rother, Toyota Kata

And here are two short exerts from The Toyota Kata book that we did not look at but describes it well I think:

…a vision, or direction giver, is not simply a quantitative target. It is a broad description of a condition we would like to have achieved in the future.

A long-term vision or direction helps focus our thinking and doing, because without it proposals are evaluated independently, instead of as part of striving toward something.

Mike Rother, Toyota Kata

We also discussed if a vision is really needed to get stated. There where two main camps:

  1. You should have a vision before you start
  2. You don’t need a vision

I a vision is important. You should set one and then refine it as you go. I also think you can get started without a clear vision as it more important to get going and practice the Improvement Kata that have the “correct” vision.

We did not arrive at a consensus on this before we moved on to the next topic of the session.

Kanban Kata’s and Recipes

These were the first round of potential recipes and Katas we collected


Kanban Kata’s In-between Kanban Recipes
OPS-review Visualize Process + Lack of Progress + Predicted Completion Define measurers
Show the lead time
Cycle time
Value Stream
Retrospective “Practices” Thrivometer
Daily meeting / queue review   Value Stream Mapping
Improvement Kata   RCA
Kaizen   Board design
Problem solving   Technical issues
Replenishment   Work Item Types

We did not have time dive deeper and define potential steps as we shifted to actually apply the Improvement Kata to the challenge of the session.

Running the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata

Gary Perkerwicz was just brilliant running through the Improvement Kata as a coach and Royd Brayshay as the mentee using the Coaching Kata.

I could swear that at one time I got a Déjà vu moment from my Toyota Kata training with Bill Constantino when I heard the following:

Gary – And when can we go and see?

Royd – Hmm, in one week?!

Gary – And when can we go and see?

Royd squirming not knowing what to answer

Gary – And when can we go and see?

Royd – Tomorrow, I guess?!

Gary – Great see you tomorrow

The focus in Toyota Kata is to run it all the time and in very short cycles(hours or days).

Bellow is a picture of the artifacts we collected from the Improvement Kata session.


We did not get the result in this session as I was hoping for, but people seem happy with the result and I think we all learned a lot by actually running the Improvement and Coaching Kata.

2 thoughts on “Kanban Katas and Recipes – Kanban Leadership Retreat 2012 session #klrat

  1. Robert Drescher 2012-09-19 / 18:00


    In today’s business world I am surprised and astonished that you could even get an audience that came out neutral toward having a vision, mission, or purpose for an organization or even a project, as the reality is that few companies actually have one that means anything. But without it anything you are doing is in fact directionless and is nothing more than hoping blind luck will get you someplace you need to go. But hell that is how most businesses are run and that is also why they go up and down all the time. The few with true visions grow regardless of what is happening in the economy, and only a major natural disaster can stop them for even a short period.

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