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Kata: a routine of optimization

1 September 2010
A person touching a screen with a person in the center

'Kata' is another term from the far-eastern culture that means "the way an organization runs". A Kata describes innovation and optimization processes as part o the organization's regular routine. Any process is comprised of three stages:

  • Learn (Shu)- learning according to a certain pattern and internalizing it: through existing knowledge and experience, the organization can formulate a business conduct and execute it via work processes, procedures and management decisions.

  • Break (Ha)- breaking the pattern: after internalizing the basic principles that led to a business routine, the organization mustn't be content with this outcome. The organization must break through the template and search for better and more diverse methods that can lead to a competitive edge. Establishing an initial business conduct enables creative and innovative thinking that breaks the pattern while optimizing it.

  • Create (RI)- creating a new and improved pattern- the new business conduct retains the core values and sticks to the organization's long-term objectives while optimizing the way it chooses to attain these goals.

The Kata's criteria are derived from the organization's nature and as such aren't absolute. The Kata represents each organization's ideal routine according to its own criteria. A good example of this sort of organizational conduct is the Toyota's management approach. Toyota successfully combines explicit and tacit knowledge and implement it among its workers, sets ambitious goals (i.e. not compromising on temporary success) and mainly invests resources in learning and analyzing the organization and its workers' potential via intra-organizational and extra-organizational comparisons.

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