1st Edition

Giving Wings to Her Team A Novel About Learning to Coach the Toyota Kata Way

By Tilo Schwarz, Jeffrey K. Liker Copyright 2023
    356 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    356 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    356 Pages 64 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    Denise dreamed of being the kind of leader who empowered and engaged her people, but was becoming frustrated and disillusioned.

    Denise -- a fast-rising, young consultant at a large advisory firm -- lands a job as a manager in industry. Crisis strikes as low-cost competitors take market share and general chaos generates late shipments. Denise goes into Lean consulting mode but quickly learns her supervisors are not buying it. They're not engaged, and they find the Lean tools confusing and a distraction from their goals of getting product out. It's going to take some magic -- magic that's available to you, the reader, too!

    Come with Denise on a journey of discovery and skill development, as she moves beyond the tools and concepts of Lean and focuses on daily practice that helps her supervisors achieve their goals. It's about an approach called Toyota Kata that helps anyone develop and apply scientific thinking -- an exploratory mindset of curiosity and experimentation. A mentor from an unlikely place appears and shares with Denise how to coach her team. Once her supervisors dig into real problems they face every day, they begin to engage. Step by step, with insightful inputs from her mentor, Denise starts developing the skills to become a coaching manager. She watches her team meet their current challenges and be ready for more.

    When you teach and practice scientific thinking and coaching skills you give wings to your team, and new worlds of opportunity open up. If you're a manager you'll identify with how the team in this story goes beyond general preaching about best practices, to practicing how to get to where they want to be. If you're a Lean practitioner frustrated with applying tools with a limited half life, you'll learn how to develop people so they can achieve their most important goals and keep going. And if you're already a Toyota Kata practitioner, well ... you will love this book!

    PART I - Learning to Think Scientifically while Producing Results

    Chapter 1 - Another day, another crisis

    Monday, January 17, 7am, The Bombshell Hits

    Chapter 2 - Getting to Work with Lean

    Monday, January 18, 8:30 am, Finally Something Interesting to Do

    Friday, January 21, 5:45 pm, Thank Goodness it’s Friday

    Chapter 3 – What’s our Challenge?

    Friday, January 21, 6:45 pm, A Pleasant Surprise at the Gym

    Chapter 4 – More Pressure Leads & a Breakthrough in Thinking

    Monday, January 24, Back to the Grind

    Monday, January 24, 7:00 pm, Retreat to the Gym

    Chapter 5 – Getting Down to Kata Planning

    Tuesday, January 25, A New Day, a Fresh Start

    Chapter 6- Telling a Story on the Storyboard

    Friday, January 28, Happy Reflections During a Drive to the Gym

    Chapter 7 - At Last, Experimenting!

    Tuesday, February 1, 7am, Small Steps, Big Progress

    Chapter 8 - May the Coaching Lessons Begin

    Tuesday, February 3, 6:35pm, Searching for Maggie in Desperation

    PART II - Coaching as Learning

    Chapter 9 - Starting to Coach (with Some Struggles)

    Thursday, February 3, 7:30am, Sorting out Maggie’s brain dump

    Chapter 10 - A Little Japanese Cuisine, and a Lot of Learning

    Thursday, February 3, 7:34 pm, To a Gourmet Dinner with Maggie

    Chapter 11 - A Coach for the Coach

    Friday, February 4, 9:35 am, Experimenting with Maggie’s Advice

    Chapter 12 - Spot-on Answers to Coaching Questions

    Monday, February 7, 8:00 am, Finally A Calm Day of Learning

    Chapter 13 - Digging Deeper into the Real Obstacles

    Tuesday, February 8, 8am, A More than Pleasant Surprise and More Learning

    Chapter 14 - A Green Drink, and Fresh Look at Storyboards

    Tuesday, February 8, 6:30 pm, More to Drink and Learn at the Gym

    Chapter 15 - Obstacles and Experiments: It’s Complicated

    Wednesday, February 9, 9:00 am, Another Day, More Coaching Experiments

    Thursday, February 10, 8:55 am, New Ideas to Test at Work

    Chapter 16 - We Deliver Same Day

    Monday, February 13, 12:00pm New Week, Fun at Sales

    Tuesday, February 14, 12:00pm, A Great Lunch Capped Off by a Beat Down from Dick

    Chapter 17 - Fun in the Learning Group?

    Thursday, March 2 - 10:45am, Two Weeks Later, a Fun Jaunt to Sales...She Thought

    Chapter 18 - A Big Promotion…and a Bigger Crisis

    Monday, March 6 -5:00pm, It Hits the Fan, Big Time!

    Monday, March 6 - 7:00 pm, Denise Desperately Tries to Unwind




    Chapter 19 - A Confrontation, Then a Way Forward

    Tuesday, March 7 - 6:00 am, An Explosive Start

    Tuesday, March 7 - 7:30 am, A Breath of Fresh Air

    Chapter 20 - Denise Becomes a Motivational Speaker

    Tuesday, March 7 - 7:45 am, Talking with Joe

    Tuesday, March 7 - 2:00 pm, The Big Meeting

    Chapter 21 - Preparing for Launch Day

    Wednesday, March 8 - 6:05 am, Starting on a High Note

    Wednesday, March 8 - 6:45 am, Preparing for the Best Workshop Ever

    Wednesday, March 8 - 7:45 am, Getting a Trusted Ally on Board

    Chapter 22 - At Last: Grasping Current Condition

    Wednesday, March 8 - 8:10 am, Finally, Off to the Workshop

    Wednesday, March 8 - Noon, To Lunch and Meeting with Mark

    Wednesday, March 8 - 3:30 pm, Reconnoitering to Reflect

    Chapter 23 - Workshop Day 2: A Deeper Dive into the Current Condition

    Thursday, March 9 - 6:00 am, Sunrise, Rousing After a Delightful Night on the Town

    Thursday, March 9 - 7:00 am, Can Day 2 Go As Smoothly as Day 1?

    Chapter 24 - Establishing Goals to set up the 3-1-1

    Thursday, March 9 - 10:15 am, Still deeper dive into current condition, all hell breaks loose

    Thursday, March 9 - 12:30 pm, A Productive Afternoon, What a Relief

    Chapter 25 - Prepping for Fun with Puzzles

    Friday, March 10 - 6:35 am, On the Way to Work with Maggie

    Friday, March 10 - 7:15 am, Finally a Chance to Play with Puzzles, but First…

    Chapter 26 - Kata to Grow Exercise

    Friday, March 10 - 09:50 am, Back to Kindergarten for Puzzle Time



    Chapter 27 - Welcome to the Coaching Dojo, Shoes off at the Door

    Friday, March 10 - 12:30 pm, Denise Gets Coached Again

    Friday, March 10 - 2:00 pm, Finally, Dojo Fun

    PART IV - Upping the Pace: It’s a Sprint and a Marathon to the Finish

    Chapter 28 - A Month Down the Road

    Friday, April 6 - 8:00 am, Four Weeks of Learning, and Some Stalling

    Friday, April 6 - 8:30 am, On Pace For the 3-1-1?

    Tuesday, April 11- 3:50 pm, Thunder and Lightning

    Chapter 29 - A Fleet of Coaches is Born

    Time passes, progress accelerates

    Wednesday, May 4 - 4:00 pm, Presenting to the Ghouls, Again

    Chapter 30 - If Only You Could Kata Your Love Life

    Thursday, May 5 - 8am, Something’s Up with David

    Thursday, May 5– Evening, Dinner is on Sales

    Friday, May 6 - 7:00am, Trouble in Paradise

    Friday, May 6 - 6:00pm, A Breakup?

    Chapter 31 - Victories and Setbacks

    Tuesday, May 10 - 7:00am, A Visit from the Big Boss

    Tuesday, May 10 - 1:00pm, Devious Dick at it Again

    Chapter 32 -The Grand Finale

    Thursday, May 18 - 4pm, Countdown, 3 Weeks to go

    Thursday, June 4 - 2pm, Times Up!

    Thursday, June 4 - 4:30pm, The Jury is Back

    Chapter 33 - New Beginnings

    Friday, June 5 - Celebration and an Offer

    Friday, June 5, 5:00pm - The Surprises Keep Coming




    Tilo Schwarz is a leadership coach, former plant manager and co-founder of the Campus for Leaders at the University of Applied Science Ansbach. He helps managers to successfully lead change and empower their teams for improvement, adaptiveness, and superior results. During his time as a plant manager at a renowned German power-tool manufacturer, he started practicing Toyota Kata with his management team as part of Mike Rother's groundbreaking research in 2006. By doing so, Tilo and his team established continuous improvement as a daily routine throughout all processes and areas of the plant. That led to winning the A. T. Kearny operational excellence competition "Factory of the Year" and a WHU/INSEAD Industrial Excellence Award. Tilo is the author of several books on coaching and Toyota Kata.

    Jeffrey K. Liker is Professor Emeritus, Industrial and Operations Engineering at The University of Michigan and President of Liker Lean Advisors, LLC. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Toyota Way, Second Edition, and has coauthored nine other books about Toyota including The Toyota Way to Service Excellence and The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership. His graphic novel with Eduardo Lander and Tom Root tells the story of lean transformation at a mail-order company: Lean in a High-Variability Business. A more compact graphic novel, Engaging the Team at Zingerman’s Mail Order, illustrates how Kata unleashed the creativity of their team. His articles and books have won thirteen Shingo Prizes for Research Excellence. He was inducted into the Association of Manufacturing Excellence Hall of Fame and the Shingo Academy.

    As CEO my vision for Elisa is for all leaders to be coaches and bring the best out of our people. This enjoyable novel gave me lots of new understanding of what it takes to learn to coach at a high level.

    --Veli-Matti Mattila, CEO, Elisa Telecommunications

    At AstraSeneca we are using Toyota Kata to coach and develop scientific thinking in our leaders. This novel was a delight and gave me deep understanding of what true coaching is and how to learn and spread it.

    —Peter Alvarsson, Head of Operational Excellence, Europe Region

    This book demystifies Toyota Kata by telling the story of how Denise, an embattled but undeterred front-line manager, learns to coach. I found myself relating to the characters and the all-too-common challenges they face. I highly recommend this novel for any leader trying to get results while developing people in today’s complex, ever changing world.

    —Michael R. Galagher, GE Executive Lean Leader, Corporate Finance.

    Practicing Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata in Volkswagen Sarajevo empowered our organization to achieve historical results. The feel of this novel is as if the authors were there with us, observing our steps and participating in our struggle to promote scientific thinking. The universality of the message is astonishing, and I highly recommend it.

    — Malik Sisic, Head of Purchasing / Vice CEO, Volkswagen Sarajevo d.o.o.