Leadership for Scientific Thinking

Newsletter of Kata School Midwest
Issue #1: April 2021

Welcome to our first issue!

The theme for this first issue is “leadership”.

In the age of complexity, Scientific Thinking is a basic skill that can only be adopted when leaders model the desired way of thinking and acting. Ability to scientifically lead is a skill that develops deep learning and reflections that empower teams to solve various challenges.

The above diagram, adapted from Mike Rother’s work, describes a virtuous cycle between scientific leadership mindset and desired people behaviors. These desired behaviors emerge when teams and managers start thinking and acting as per Toyota Kata.

Transforming leaders before transforming organizations

In this 5 minutes video, author Michael Balle talks on leadership transformation as prerequisite to business transformation. Michael describes the traditional image of leader versus Lean leader, we need the latter for having meaningful transformation. According to Michael, it’s about “leader and leader” rather than “leader and follower”.

Traditional image of a leader versus the Lean one is depicted in the diagram below that is derivative from Mike Rother’s work.

Humble Inquiry

In this 4 minutes video, Prof. Ed Schein explains the responsibility of leaders to create safety in-order to have honest upward communication. According to Ed, Humble Inquiry is “the gentle art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building relationships based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” When applying Humble Inquiry, leaders can learn how their people think so that their interdependence relationship succeeds.

When teams and individual practice Improvement Kata while being coached by their leaders can enhance Humble Inquiry.


Past Events: Slides of our April 2021 meeting

Future Events: Virtual Kata in Classroom

We will hold free Virtual KiC for four consecutive weeks starting on
Wednesday, May 12.

10 Principles for Lean Leadership

Cited in lean.org by Isao Yoshino

Pick anyone of the above principles, then write down in the comments blow how it is manifested in Toyota Kata.

Featured book

Some insightful statements among the countless ones spread throughout this book.
  1. The missing ingredients in most conversations are curiosity and willingness to ask questions to which we do not already know the answer.
  2. Getting the seesaw to move and passing the baton will work only if all the participants, regardless of formal status, recognize their dependence on each other.
  3. Feelings of Here-and-now Humility are, for the most part, the basis of curiosity and interest.
  4. Small changes now avoid the need for big changes later.
  5. It is indeed crucial to start the meeting with everyone speaking from the heart before any interaction is allowed.
  6. The time when Humble Inquiry is often most needed is when we observe something that makes us angry or anxious.
  7. The reason asking is a strength rather than a weakness is that it provides a better chance of figuring out what is actually going on before acting.

When leaders ask deepening questions during Coaching Cycles, they can invoke Humble Inquiry to create the relationships, and a climate that will promote the open communication needed for safe and effective task performance.

Which one of the above insights resonated with you most? Why? Please write down in the comments how Toyota Kata’s Five Coaching Questions can help a leader to enhance the insight you chose?

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