May 14 - 15, 2021, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
Format: Online
Industry Sessions
Industry Session
Friday, May 14, 2021
1:45 PM

Mark Stoel
Continuous Improvement Engineer
Gentex Corporation

Developing better problem solvers using Toyota Kata
Gentex Corporation has long been rooted in technical expertise and problem solving. With changing culture, less support staff, and a change in how we operate induced by the pandemic it became clear that we were going to need to change our approach to problem solving. Our hope was to include the many functions in our company to increase our problem solving effectiveness starting with the frontline leadership of our manufacturing team.
The main gap we were initially addressing was finding a method for our manufacturing team to learn functional problem solving so they could overcome the issues that are currently causing chaos.
Mike Rother's learnings and bestselling books about Toyota Kata were derived from his time spent studying Toyota's management system and the famous culture that creates continuous improvement behavior throughout the organization. Toyota Kata is a structured approach using a Learner and a Coach to develop and sustain practical scientific-thinking skills. The objective is to continually practice scientific thinking by running experiments until it becomes an engrained habit and part of a daily thought process.
While adapting the Toyota Kata method at Gentex we are having more success developing our people and their problem solving capabilities. The success is evidenced through the projects from our frontline leadership that have saved a considerable amount of money with a very low cost to implement. The main finding is understanding how the coach role coupled with the development of the learner has reshaped our strategy to problem solving. Our learnings for effective problem solving also include starting with a clear vision of what the problem is and how it is measured, helping the learner with daily review and positive accountability, and ensuring that the coach is a main contributor to a successful project as well as the development of people and their problem solving efficacy.