Hoshin Kanri, like a lot of the Lean Management methodologies, is a Japanese term and, simply translated, Hoshin means 'Direction Needle', or Compass, and Kanri means 'Control Logic'. Therefore Hoshin Kanri is a methodology for the Logical Management of the execution of the Organisation's Strategic Direction.
Hoshin Kanri follows the PDCA cycle in its approach over an annual cadence, with typically a 3-5 Year time-horizon and, in the Planning phase, the major differences between Hoshin Kanri and a typical approach to the deployment of strategy are two-fold:
1. Decisions are actively made on what to do but, most importantly, which of the many opportunities the organisation will NOT do.
Companies that adopt Hoshin Kanri accept that having too many priorities is the equivalent of having no priorities and that some opportunities will have to be sacrificed; not because they are not good initiatives but because the organisation simply doesn't have the resources to do them: Other things are more important and focus is required to do them well.
2. The answer to how the Strategy will be delivered is delegated to the appropriate level of the organisation, through a process called 'Catch-Ball', meaning that those people who will need to deliver are also empowered to determine the best way to deliver. They also get to provide input on item 1, to ensure that the decision made on priorities is the correct one.
As you may have implied from this, the planning phase typically takes longer than it would in a traditional approach and is very thorough and inclusive, with the Strategy creation and targets initially set at the top level of the organisation but a great deal of the 'how to achieve' determined at the appropriate level of the organisation through the iterative approach. However, what this thorough planning allows is rigorous discipline once the organisation moves into the Do, Check and Act phases of the cycle.
This leads to the second question posed: Why isn't my Organisation utilising its Power?
This isn't easy to answer, as the 'case for change' should be clear enough:
However, clues as to why not are in the above statistics, with the fact that most companies don't track performance against plan meaning that they will not realise how badly they are executing their strategies, which is borne out by the fact that 90% of companies don't execute well. As around 86% of Executive Teams spend less than one hour a month reviewing strategy, they would appear to be more involved in the 'day-to-day' problems of the business than they are in steering the future direction. Given this, it is hardly surprising that the Leadership of most Organisations don't take the time to implement a Methodology that would ensure excellence in their Strategy Execution.
There are a few large organisations for whom Hoshin Kanri is a clear and integral part of how they consistently deliver breakthrough performance through the execution of their strategy. However, I have also seen a number of smaller organisations prospering via this approach and the clarity that it brings for the Team Members is great to see. Most importantly, it significantly reduces the overburden and feeling of a lack of direction which a lot of Employees feel.
In my experience, Hoshin Kanri is the missing 'secret' Ingredient for most established Organisations to cut-out misalignment, match resources and capability to Strategic Intent and to ensure excellence in the delivery of the Strategy into real Business results.
We've all heard the boast of the Manager who "doesn't take no for an answer" and claims that this is the root of their success; that they always deliver despite any barriers in their way. When we hear this it sounds impressive, doesn't it? This is surely exactly the type of Leadership that we need to drive results in our Business, isn't it?
However, whilst we should accept that tenacity is an essential part of the execution required in a High Performance Organisation, what I often observe is that not taking no for an answer is a positional activity between managers in an organisation or, even worse, the whim of leader, and is deleterious to the focus required for the organisation to achieve excellence in its service to its Customers.
What we really need in the organisation are Leaders who take the time to translate the Strategy into a deployable plan and align the organisation around the common goals. This strategy deployment (also called Policy Deployment or Hoshin Kanri) means that the organisation is aligned on why they are doing what they are doing, what they need to achieve and how they are going to do it, with plans in place that account for the available capability of the organisation (people, capital, competences, tools, etc.) and that are made in an inclusive way (sometimes called 'Catchball'). The most important part of this is that the Leadership has decided what they are going to say no to, either completely or for a period of time, and this is non-negotiable; not just because they might not be interesting to the organisation or bad ideas but because they do not figure in the Organisational priorities and therefore the organisation does not have the resources to invest in them.
Ultimately, we do indeed need every team member to be a leader and refuse to take no for an answer but only when the organisation is aligned to fight the external barriers to success and not those created internally.
"I aim to promote the global sharing of best practices in the application of Lean Thinking."