I Guess That’s On Me: The Journey of One Toyota Kata Coach

I Guess That’s On Me: The Journey of One Toyota Kata Coach

The Coach

Diane is a vice president at a large community hospital. Several hundred people report to her. Her days are scheduled from 7a-5pm. She is a go-getter, a top-performer, well-respected, young, and highly effective. Therefore, when she saw other leaders in the organization getting results with Toyota Kata, she wanted in.

I had the opportunity to coach Diane as she was coaching her managers. We started with a few storyboards in her areas and focused on the mechanics. Getting the right current condition, the target, setting challenges that aligned with the organizations strategic goals. She led her managers through the steps, encouraged experiments, celebrated failure and she got results.

But not without struggle. She was frustrated when the storyboard didn’t match her expectations.

‘I’ve told her so many times how to do it, why doesn’t she just do it how I say?’

Reflect: Is your behavior getting the result you want?

Diane wasn’t reflecting and experimenting around how she was coaching.  She would tell the learner how to do some procedural element of her storyboard or even tell them what their next experiment should be, but when she returned for the next coaching cycle, she was often disappointed.

I talked to Diane about using the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) record on herself and her coaching.

Her record looked something like this:

Step What do you expect? What actually happened? What did you learn?
Tell learner what to do Learner will understand and do the experiment how I asked. Learner didn’t follow directions. My way of teaching that concept didn’t work. The learner did not understand what I said at the last coaching cycle.


Now what? What is Diane’s next step as a coach now that she knows that the learner doesn’t understand?

Diane wasn’t sure what to do next. She was at her knowledge threshold and decided to try a different approach for teaching the learner about the current condition.

Target for the Learner

While Diane was skeptical about this change in mindset, she was open to my questions and suggestions over the next several months which included those from the Coaching Kata Second Coaching card created by Beth Carrington:

What is your target condition for this learner’s development?

What are the obstacles to achieving this target?

Diane reflected on where each learner’s biggest gaps were and tried to focus on those during upcoming cycles.

Recently, we finished a coaching cycle with one of her managers that was stuck in the step of grasping her current condition. Diane and Michelle weren’t seeing eye to eye on how to move forward and they were both frustrated.

After the session, we debriefed, and I gave my impressions. I said that it seemed to me that Michelle seemed lost on how to move forward. It was evident she didn’t know how to grasp the current condition of her current process.

Diane paused and said, “I guess that’s on me.”


In that statement, she reflected the philosophy, ‘if the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.’ When practicing Improvement Kata, if the learner isn’t progressing, the coach needs to reflect on her approach, style, content, methods.

Diane didn’t blame her manager for lack of progress, she looked inward.

What can I do to be a better coach?

There is no one answer, but I’m looking forward to her next experiment.


Photo by Sean Patrick Murphy on Unsplash

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