Kata Qualifications - Lean Competency System

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The KCS qualifications framework

The KCS qualifications framework has seven levels of kata competency, categorised into three Groups. ‘Competence’ has knowing and doing dimensions and each level has a descriptor defining the competency expectation of an individual at the level.

Most practitioners become certified through an accredited organisation or consultancy. However, experienced practitioners can become qualified at Level 2 directly by the KCS via the Approved Prior Learning & Experience (APLE) route to certification. Click on the link below for more information.

KCS Levels

Level 1: Improvement Kata

L1A: Awareness & L1B: Application
Key capabilities:

  • L1A: awareness of kata principles and concepts
  • L1B: the ability to apply the kata improvement pattern.
Level 1 focuses on teaching a practitioner to use Improvement Kata to train themselves in the use of scientific thinking and achieve a series of target conditions to meet a challenge.

View the L1A Level Descriptor
View the L1B Level Descriptor

Level 2: Coaching Kata

L2A: Kata Coach, L2B: Kata Expert Coach & L2C – Kata Master Coach
Key capabilities:

  • L2A: is able to coach an individual
  • L2B: is able to coach several individuals
  • L2C: is able to develop new coaches
The coaching Kata is a set of teaching routines that helps develop the coaches skill. It is a set of patterns that help managers and supervisors teach Improvement KATA and encourage the improvers to think and act in a more scientific way.

View the L2A Level Descriptor
View the L2B Level Descriptor
View the L2C Level Descriptor

Level 3: Kata Culture

L3A – Enterprise Development & L3B – Enterprise Coach
Key capabilities:

  • L3A: Is able to design & implement a Kata deployment programme at enterprise level
  • L3B: Is able to develop second coaches & coach a design & implementation of a Kata deployment programme at enterprise level.
Level 3 focuses on a practitioner’s ability to establish a scientific way of thinking, learning and working together across multiple teams or an entire organisation. The ultimate goal is to permanently modify organisational culture and develop a learning organisation.

View the L3A Level Descriptor
View the L3B Level Descriptor

Other Improvement Approaches & Time to Certification

Kata's fit with other improvement activities

If you already are using an improvement approach, the good news is that both improvement Kata and Coaching Kata will supercharge what you are already doing.


  • Kata is about habit forming around simple patterns of behaviours. It’s high on practice and does not emphasise theory.
  • It’s a framework that focuses on how you do things, rather than a method or tool.
  • As it is a framework of simple behavioural patterns, it can be applied to any situation and work with any improvement methodology.
  • Being quick to teach and practice, it speeds up the identification and adoption of tools and techniques from your existing methodology.
  • By allowing the improver to learn for themselves, it can generate a demand or pull for tools and techniques from the existing methodology – highlighting problems needing a solution from your toolkit.

You may find that kata challenges how you think and deliver improvement, which is positive and we believe kata will help your improvement efforts to go further, faster.

Estimated Time to KCS Certification

Of course it depends. Kata is about practicing and building new neural pathways. So, intensity and frequency of hands on practice are crucial and lead time is only one dimension of that.

Given a person deliberately practices here are some rough guidelines:

  • Level 1B – 8 to 12 weeks.
  • Level 2A – 4 to 6 months
  • Level 2B – 6 to 8 months after reaching level 2A
  • Level 2C – 12 to 24 months after reaching level 2B
  • Level 3A – 12 to 24 months after reaching level 2C
  • Level 3B – 12 to 24 months after reaching level 3A

KCS framework summary

Level 1

Improvement Kata

Level 1A – Awareness
Level 1B – Application

Level 2

Coaching Kata

Level 2A – Kata Coach
Level 2B – Kata Expert Coach
Level 2C – Kata Master Coach

Level 3

Kata Culture

Level 3A – Enterprise Development
Level 3B – Enterprise Coach