Kata Level 1B - Lean Competency System

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Level 1B - Application


A practitioner with a KCS Level 1B certificate should have the ability to apply the four steps of the Improvement Kata through repeated application of the Improvement Kata practice routines, called Starter Kata, in the workplace while working towards a challenge and being coached in doing so.

A practitioner with a KCS Level 1b certificate should also be able to demonstrate the successful use of the approach through having met several consecutive Target-Conditions.

Prerequisite for Level 1B

The practitioner shall hold the KCS L1A certificate.

Knowledge requirements

The Level 1B practitioner shall know and understand about the Improvement Kata:

  1. The Starter Kata improvement practice routines.
  2. How to build and use a Learner’s Storyboard.
  3. How to interpret and clarify the challenge statement with the coach.
  4. How to grasp the Current Condition in the relevant workplace environment through a systematic approach building on a defined set of universal steps.
  5. How to establish a next Target Condition and how to visualize/document it on the Storyboard.
  6. How to Experiment towards the Target Condition in a scientific way

Application requirements

The Level 1B practitioner shall be able to:

  1. Build and use a Learner’s Storyboard.
  2. Grasp the current condition in the relevant workplace environment through a systematic approach building on a defined set of universal steps, building on the Toyota Kata and Starter Kata.
  3. Document, visualize and present the current condition in a structured way.
  4. Establish a next Target Condition towards the challenge through a systematic approach building on a defined set of universal steps.
    1. Target condition: the gap to close from the current condition by describing the desired condition to achieve the necessary outcome.
  5. Develop a desired state for different types of processes in the relevant workplace environment.
  6. See and identify obstacles through go and see. If necessary, use experiments to make obstacles visible. Use the obstacle parking lot.
  7. Choose the obstacle to address in a reasonable way.
  8. Develop and conduct experiments towards the Target Condition in a scientific way.
  9. Design experiments for quickly testing ideas and getting feedback as early as possible.
  10. Reflect on and learn from the last experiment by comparing expectations and what actually happened.
  11. Understand the cause and effect of an obstacle.

Course outcomes

At the end of the course aligned to L1B learners shall:

  • Have developed a way of practical scientific thinking
  • Understand the longer-term direction and establish a clear short-term focus for your efforts.
  • Be able to Go and See in order to deeply understand the current condition, cause and effect before implementing solutions.
  • Test ideas by experiment, reflect on what happens and adapt accordingly.
  • Be proficient in taking small, quick steps to implement effectively rather than of one giant leap.

Topic examples

While the list below is indicative, at Level 1B teaching, demonstrating and practicing the Improvement Kata practice routines (Starter Kata) are essential. If Starter Kata needs to be contextualised for application (industry, business area, part of organisation) it should consist of specific steps and/or a standardised form and be as close as possible to the Starter Kata published in the Toyota Kata Practice Guide.

The Improvement Kata practice routines (Starter Kata)

The important steps of Starter Kata maturity (Follow - Fluency - Detach) and why the following of prescriptive practice routines is vital in the beginning.

The Learner Storyboard and supporting Forms

The Storyboard as an important Starter Kata - and it’s vital purpose in helping a Coach see an Improver’s thinking.

Steps of Process Analysis and how to do them

Graph process outcome performance, understand the customer demand and resulting requirements for the process, study the process’s operating patterns, check the process capability and understand constraints, calculate the core work content.

Tools to support ‘Grasping the Current Condition

Including the use of Process Maps, Run Charts, Gemba Observations, basic data gathering techniques

Steps of establishing a target condition and how to do them

Reviewing and connecting to the challenge, setting and agreeing on a due date and understanding what a suitable time frame is, defining the desired outcome performance, defining the desired process pattern, defining the process metric to focus on.

Characteristics of a good target conditions and its metrics

Outcome metric, process metric, process pattern, due date

Tools to support ‘Establishing the next Target Condition’:

Current condition/target condition form, T-Template

Definition and characteristic of obstacles

Types of obstacles, the obstacle formula, cause and effect

Tools and methods to identify and understand obstacles

Obstacle parking lot, Five Whys, Cause & Effect, basic data gathering and statistical techniques

How to develop and conduct good experiments

Hypothesis, three types of experiments, experiment vs. trial and error,

Tools to support Experimenting towards the target condition

Experimenting record, basic data gathering techniques

Strategic & Human dimensions

Linking with the longer-term challenge, target deployment in organisations, hoshin-kanri. Shu-Ha-Ri (Follow-Fluency-Detach) Mastery of Competency in martial arts, Dunning-Kruger Effect, System 1 and 2.

Level assessment

The assessment shall demonstrate that the outcomes have been achieved.


An assessment that demonstrates the learner can remember and understand L1b Kata knowledge, for example, through a multiple choice test, problem or case-based exams, oral exam, essay exam.

Practical application

The successful Level 1B practitioner shall provide evidence of the application of the defined Practice Routines, Starter Kata, related to each step of the 4-Step Improvement Kata model.

The evidence shall demonstrate how the application resulted in meeting a minimum of three Target Conditions through approximately 30 cycles of experimenting, with the Target Conditions being consecutive towards the same challenge.

The evidence can be captured on a Kata Storyboard or Case Study.