The Uniqueness of Hoshin Kanri

The “Hoshin” is developed at each layer of management clarifying strategies and targets to assist in reaching the preceding layer’s targets. This results in both a macro and micro PDCA. This greatly increases the line of sight and shared responsibility to each other in achieving these goals. Kanri is defined as a method to efficiently achieve purposes through PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act).

What makes Hoshin so unique over other planning methods is the effort that is put into the cascading effect of the Hoshin plan. This effect is called “Catchball”. Catchball drives the strategic planning process into every level of the organization and every employee and provides them the opportunity to define how they will contribute to that success.

Catchball(PDCA) works like this:

  • (Plan) Leaders set the strategies and targets. The team members, made up of the people closest to the work to be improved, put a plan together to make it happen. Ideas are tossed back in forth and open debate is encouraged and expected. Agreement is reached and a plan comes together with a defined course of action and responsibilities.
  • (Do) Continuing dialogue takes place. “Are we on track? Do we have the time and other resources required? What are we learning that needs to be incorporated into the plan?” Changes are made as a result of this dialogue.
  • (Check) The leader or the preceding layer monitors and is responsible for the outcome. The leader resolves confusion and helps at key points acting very much like both a coach and a manager during the process.
  • (Act) Continuous review and discussion will keep the team on target. The goals are accomplished as a result of interaction not because of a prescribed method.

This is the secret of Hoshin Kanri and I believe the preferred method for engaging change. Most processes are built around the existing organizational structure depicted in the top of the picture. Targets and measures are set and many times a mandate on how we will achieve them. Hoshin Kanri through the use of catchball develops a more collaborative structure (depicted on bottom left) and as a result an easier method for change and even more importantly sustainability.

Hoshin KanriThis is not about relinquishing control. It is about gaining more control over implementation. Collaboration does not insure the best answer gets enacted. It typically insures that something does get enacted. It takes away that paralysis from planning. No longer are we trying to gather buy-in to get something accomplished, but rather change is being driven from the bottom up with a sense of joint accountability. The best answer becomes the best implementable action. Eventually through continuous improvement a better answer will surface than was originally conceived.

Can Hoshin Kanri work in your organization?

Related Information:
Is the Balance Scorecard being revived?
Tricks from the Trenches on applying Hoshin Kanri
Become a Learning Organization through Relentless Reflection
What’s new in Business Model Generation? Customer Value Canvas and more

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