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  • Writer's pictureTilo Schwarz

7 Points For A Good Target Condition

by Tilo Schwarz | Tips for the Kata Coach | Episode 8

This article discusses a helpful checklist for defining a good Target Condition.


For new readers: Every week I share hands-on tips for coaching with the Coaching Kata. This episode is #8 in a series of articles about Denise, who has taken on her first management position as a department manager at PowerPump Inc. Denise intends to develop her team through coaching. Read Episode 1 to get into the story.


Recap of the last episode: Denise is having lunch with Jason, head of sales administration. They discuss how to define Target Conditions for administrative processes. (Read Episode 7 for the start of their discussion).


"That's great, "Jason replied. "If we achieve a 100%‚same-day rate 'for our quotes in both process steps, this adds up to two days in lead time. If the finance team strives to reach the same for their process steps, we would have a total lead time of three days. That's exactly where I want to go ".

Denise thinks of the checklist with the 7 points she uses when defining a Target Condition.

(1) Overarching challenge: In Jason's case that would be: Reach a lead time of 3 days for all project pricing offers within six months.

(2) Focus process: That would be the pricing process in sales administration, or if Jason wanted to break it down further, just one of the two process steps his team was responsible for in this process.

(3) Impact metric: That would be the same-day processing rate of the focus process.

Points (4) and (5) of her checklist were framing conditions, like budget and quality, and the due date for the Target Condition. Jason could define these. What was still missing were;

(6) the desired process pattern and above all

(7) a short cyclically and easy to measure process metric.

Denise suggests Jason should first focus on one of the two process steps, observe the initial condition and draw a block diagram for the sub-steps required. From that, he should be able to recognize what was influencing the same-day processing rate the most.

Denise gave a few examples: "The same-day processing rate could be influenced by the extra work occurring when information about technical details for the project was missing or wrong, or by interruptions or a very complicated sub-step. Depending on what you are going to address first, this will define your process metric. In the examples I just gave, this would either be the number of missing pieces of information, the number of interruptions or the workload required for the most complicated step in the block diagram in minutes. "

Checklist for defining a Target Condition

Jason was enthusiastic. He wanted to start immediately and promised to share his experiences with Denise in the next few days.

After lunch, Denise met with Joe for the agreed coaching cycle. She was curious as to what he had found. At the moment they were working on an obstacle in piston assembly. For some types of pump, it often happened that the piston jammed. Joe wanted to find out through a process observation what exactly the cause was. During the coaching cycle, Denise discovered that Joe had not yet conducted that step.

"Production planning has put in an urgent order for centrifugal pumps. With these pumps, the problem does not occur. That's why I was not able to complete the process observation yet "Joe tells her.

Denise decides to proceed with the next question of the Coaching Kata. "What obstacles are preventing you from reaching the Target Condition? "

"Still the same," Joe replies pointing to the obstacle parking lot. "Besides, I can't observe the problem with the jamming pistons right now," adding this new obstacle to the obstacle parking lot.

"Which one are you addressing now?" Denise continues. "That pumps with the piston problem are not assembled right now," Joe replies. "And what exactly is the problem?" Denise asks. "That I do not know when the pumps, with the problem I want to observe, are next scheduled for assembly," says Joe. "My next step is, therefore, to speak with production planning," he adds unasked. "And what do you expect then?" Denise asks. "That I know when I will be able to conduct my process observation,“ is Joe's answer. He fills out the Experimenting Record on his Story Board with the step they have just agreed on. Then they arrange the next coaching cycle for the following day at 10:00 am.

After Joe leaves Denise stays at the Story Board and reflects on their coaching cycle. She used the questions of the Coaching Kata, but Joe did not really make progress today towards his Target Condition. That happens quite often, Denise thinks and begins to flip through the old experimenting records a bit stumped.

Like this article? Forward it to your friends and colleagues.

Next week: Read about a trick Denise comes up with to focus on making progress.



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See Toyota Kata Memory Jogger pages 52 and following for more tips on how to define a good next Target Condition.


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