Biz Features

Hoshin Kanri: What it is — And How To Get It

by . March 27th, 2014

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Any business must ensure that goals are met within a reasonable time frame. Hence, they must ensure methods to test whether the strategies are appropriately taken as expected or not. One method used for this purpose is the Hoshin Kanri.

Hoshin Kanri or Policy Deployment is a method applied by some companies to make goals are met — and that the same goals lead to progress. The idea is to align the company goals to the tactics prepared by the middle management of the operations and the work done by employees through a process of eliminating waste due to poor communication or inconsistent direction. Everybody must work to attain the same direction.

Hoshin Kanri is one of the lean tools that is, though not totally considered as the most popular, remains valuable. The core principles of Hoshin Kanri are the following:

  • Visionary Strategic Planning– the things that matters most must be given focused.
  • Catchball Principle
  • Measuring Progress – the KPI must be taken considerably based on what can drive the behavior positively.
  • Closing the Loop– the progress must be tracked down through regular follow-ups.


Implementing the Hoshin Kanri Process

Hoshin Kanri is not a one-way process. It includes steps that will need to be taken seriously to achieve a desired goal.

Step 1 – Creating a Strategic Plan

The strategic plan refers to the annual plan developed by the top management. This entails the long-term goals that must be achieved. A strategic plan is critical and needs to be well crafted. Upon the development of this plan, the following must be considered.

Focus on Five

A company surely wants to have lots of goals and must have listed too many of them. Listing  is easy, but implementing all that is listed is not. Hence, you must focus only to the goals that can most probably be achieved with a low risk. A list of five or less is better.

Effectiveness Comes First

Effectiveness must always be ahead of efficiency. Efficiency is doing things right while effectiveness is doing the right things. The latter must be exhibited if it relates to the strategic goals since it will bring a company to a higher level.

Evolution versus Revolutionary

It does not matter if the goals are evolutionary (can be achieved by continuous improvement) or if it is revolutionary (have a dramatic scope) since both are legal and good.

Top Down Consensus

The top management will be the one making the strategic plan. However, this does not eliminate the need to consult the middle management for them to have feedback and a wider perspective as to what makes them stronger. It is also a process of sharing responsibilities.

Careful KPIs

Goals are tracked using Key Performance Indicators or KPIs so it must be able to drive behavior. The indicator must also be reasonable.

Own the Goal

Each goal must be facilitated by a designated person who has the authority to see the conclusion of it. He must act as the coach who also has the skills. The assigned individual must remove the things that block further progress and intercede if he sees something is wrong.


Step 2 – Developing the Tactics

The middle management is the one assigned to develop tactics to achieve the goals listed by the top management. The tactics and strategies must be well aligned as much as the goals are well understood and the KPIs are appropriate.

Unlike goals, the tactics can be changed later on even during the implementation has started. The most important characteristic of the people who do the tactics are flexibility and adaptability.

Hence, having regular reviews is necessary – once a month review is even enough. The principle of catchball (make certain the alignment of strategies to tactics) also applies to this stage.


Step 3 – Take an Action

When the strategies are developed already by the top management, the middle management then initiates tactics. When tactics are ready, it is time for the plant floor level to take action.

Catchball principle also applies to this stage. Taking an action is the stage wherein the goals together with plans are transformed into results. To make sure that the actions are taken seriously, the management must wander and monitor around the area where they work.


Step 4 – Review and Adjust


Information and progress must be communicated equally through the whole course of Hoshin Kanri. This last step is the part wherein adjustments are to be made if necessary. This is usually done during the checkpoints for which the progress is being checked.


Importance of the Number of Levels

The fewer number of levels, the better it is for the company to conduct Hoshin Kanri. This is because decisions are spread only to fewer people. Perhaps, most of the big companies today have fewer levels of management making it easier for them to drop the goals.


The Need to Communicate Vision

It is impossible for a company to achieve something if not all members of it are informed about what the vision is. Hence, if you want to effectively do Hoshin Kanri, everybody must be well versed on what the visions of the company are.

Everybody must know more than what they “should” do since that will not drive passion. They must also know what their purpose is and why it is important to focus on what needs to be done. This is also one of the purposes of Hoshin Kanri – to provide a focus to everybody. When all employees know what their purpose are and what should they focus on doing, they most likely can effectively achieve their goals.

The vision of a company, will be treated as the shared vision. When this happens, the destination of each is made clearer.

Hoshin Kanri works just like how the human digestive system works. It undergoes processes before everything is digested completely. Hoshin Kanri must be done continuously if the company wants to thrive and be successful for long.

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 About the Author

James Paulsen continues to progress his passion for writing and his enthusiasm for getting a job well done, here he writes about Hoshin Kanri, How can Hoshin planning be attained successfully

James Paulsen