Got Makiwara? How To Sustain and Promote Effective Problem Solving Through PDCA

Got Makiwara? How To Sustain and Promote Effective Problem Solving Through PDCA


If you’re a student of lean thinking, you have no doubt encountered many Japanese terms, phrases, and concepts. Due to the success and proliferation of books on the Toyota Production System, many lean terms have become “household words” in operations and logistics. One doesn’t have to be a linguist to appreciate the beauty, imagery and metaphor inherent in the Japanese language. For example, the term kaizen, used to describe a state of continuous improvement, is a fusion of two words: kai=take apart, and zen=make good).

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the discipline required to maintain the process of Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA), something we practice daily at LeanCor. This aspect of discipline reminds me of another Japanese term I learned while studying karate in my youth: makiwara.

A makiwara is a padded striking post used as a training tool in various styles of traditional karate. It is used much in the same way a boxer uses a heavy punching bag. The practitioner develops strength, form, and balance through a discipline of repetition and practice. I can tell you from experience, punching a canvas-covered post 100 times a day takes a certain degree of discipline and commitment to mastering your craft!

Processes love to fall apart. We must adopt a steely, “ makiwara-like” determination in order to sustain and promote effective problem solving through PDCA. We need structure. Think about your own team, department, or process. What structures and disciplines would you need to put in place to systematically ask the following questions?


Where are we going?

How do we get there?

What are the measures of success?


How to we deploy our goals level by level to carry out the plan?


How will we check progress?

What will we check?

With whom?

How often?


If we fell short of the goal, what are the countermeasures?

If we met the goal, how can we standardize?


Written by Dave Hill, Lean Deployment Executive at LeanCor

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

blog author

LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

LinkedIn Google+



NEW: Resource Center

Lean Logistics and Transportation Management

From carrier management to network design, browse our best content – webinars, articles, videos, podcasts, and more. 

Visit the Transportation Resource Center

Subscribe Now!

Recent Posts

Supply Chain Brief