Kata Competency Homepage - Lean Competency System

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Kata qualifications for individuals, consultants and organisations

Industry standard kata qualifications, developed by the LCS

Welcome to the Kata Competency System website

The Kata Competency System (KCS) is a kata qualification framework used by accredited organisations to support kata training programmes and by employees and continuous improvement practitioners as a vehicle to develop kata knowledge and practical skills.

There are seven levels in the KCS framework, grouped into three categories 1) Improvement Kata, 2) Coaching Kata and 3) Kata Culture, covering the entire spectrum of kata knowledge and practice.

The KCS is managed by Lean Competency Services Ltd, which holds the Cardiff University licence to manage and operate the Lean Competency System as associated products.

Core proposition

An organisation can become accredited making it an Accredited Certifier of Kata Competency, allowing it to issue Certificates of Kata Competency to those it trains. The accredited organisation could be a company or public service body training its own staff, or a consultant providing kata programmes for its clients’ staff.


The KCS offers a solution for an organisation that wants its kata training accredited and endorsed, staff to be rewarded and recognised for their knowledge, capability and commitment, reassurance that its kata training is robust, technically sound & well managed and a flexible, university linked, kata qualification framework that offers a universal standard.


The KCS offers individuals a framework for competency growth and professional development, recognition for his or her kata competency, a kata qualification with high perceived value and access to a network of CI professionals for ongoing learning.

The benefits of KCS accreditation

The KCS provides a range of benefits for accredited organisations.


A consultant with a kata training capability can become an Accredited Certifier of Kata Competency enabling it to issue KCS Certificates of Kata Competency to learners who progress through its training. It’s a valuable addition to the consultant’s service, as building its client’s staff kata capability is critical in the journey to developing a sustainable CI culture.

  • Added value to your core offering, improving margins and competitive advantage.
  • Meets the need for accredited training and qualifications with high perceived value.
  • Independent endorsement of your kata training credentials.
  • A framework around which kata programmes and training courses can be developed.
  • A focus on practice that improves training effectiveness.
  • Career progression and professional development for practitioners.
  • Linkage to the LCS and Lean Enterprise Research Centre networks.
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An organisation can become KCS accredited when it has demonstrated that it has a technically robust, well organised, effectively managed, professionally delivered training programme that is aligned to the KCS qualifications framework. Accreditation also signifies a commitment to high standards and continuous improvement.

  • Motivates employees to engage in continuous improvement.
  • Accreditation improves the design, integration and professionalism of training.
  • External endorsement from an established CI authority.
  • KCS qualifications helps promote employees’ professional development.
  • Links training with practical application, directly benefiting business performance.
  • A standard that you can apply throughout the organisation.
  • KCS certification rewards and recognises employee effort and achievement.
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Frequently asked questions

View all FAQs

What is the underpinning philosophy of the KCS framework?

Developing a different mindset and new behaviours are core to the development of Scientific Thinking and the use of Toyota Kata. These are based on developing new neural pathways, which requires deliberate and repeated practice and is unlikely to be achieved by an instructional classroom approach alone.

Consequently the KCS framework and levels are aimed at emphasising practice and require proof of application. Instructional training should be engrained as necessary to create awareness and transfer knowledge about concepts and better ways of practising.

What type of organisations can become accredited?

Any organisation that has its own kata training system can be accredited – whether the training is in-house for employees or delivered by a consultancy for client employees or the public.

A kata training and coaching system can be at any scale, from a small team delivering frequent coaching to a small group to a large organisation developing many staff member in using and coaching using the kata approach.

Do I need to progress through each KCS level as I build my capability?

Yes. As this framework is built around deliberate practice of the Improvement and Coaching Kata, it should be possible for you to demonstrate you have had the relevant experience as Improver or Coach at a lower level of the framework before you embark on a more advanced level.

Useful resources

Check out these kata resources

Kata history

Where does kata come from and how has it developed? How does it fit with general improvement approaches?

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The Improvement kata

In Toyota Kata, Rother outlined a scientific approach to problem solving as a four step model termed the “Improvement Kata.”

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Coaching kata

The Coaching Kata is a master-apprentice approach to teaching - the coach gives input on what is being practiced, corrects as they practice, and the learner continues to practice with the new input.

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Discover the seven levels of the KCS framework

About us

Find out who is behind the KCS.

Get in touch

Ask us a question about any aspect of the KCS.

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The LCS is a licenced service of Cardiff University