Hoshin Kanri is step by step planning method used for ensuring that the plans of the different functional areas align with the overall organizational goalHoshin Kanri is step by step planning method used for ensuring that the plans of the different functional areas align with the overall organizational goal. Acting as a compass to provide directional information so everyone is working in the same direction at the same time. Hoshin Kanri is also a circular method, whereas plans to obtain goals are sent down from the top with results fed back to the top in order to adjust the plans if necessary.

Hoshin Kanri Core Principles

The core principles of Hoshin Kanri are:

  •    Visionary Strategic Planning – A clear goal that all can work towards
  •    Catch ball – the flow of information back and forth between all levels of the business
  •    Measuring progress – continuous reviewing of actions and mid-goal achievements
  •    Closing the loop – information needs to flow not just down the levels but back up again in a loop.

Think of an organization as a piece of machinery, built of cogs that must work together in tandem. If any of these cogs are out of sync the whole machine can break down. An organization is built of numerous processes all in different functional areas. If a functional area of an organization is working towards a different goal than the other areas, there can be plenty of wasted money, time, and resources. Although functional areas may achieve little wins, the overall goal of the organization will not be achieved. This is where Hoshin Kanri comes in, the method gives employees direction on how to work towards their own goals and align them with that of the organizational goal.

An organization can be broken down into the Senior management, mid-management, and tactical teams. The senior management is the directors and those that decide the organization goals and strategies. Mid-management is the departmental heads, or managers, who are in charge of the functional areas and organizing resources. Tactical teams are the employees that action the plans handed down from senior and mid-management. Using Hoshin Kanri senior management creates a strategic plan to further the long-term goals of the company, carefully drafted to address all issues including the leanness of processes to improve the efficiency of the organization. This plan will include tactics discussed with mid-management to successfully achieve the goals set.

align to be leanOnce the plan is created it is passed down to mid-management to develop a step by step action plan. It is up to the managers to work closely with their tactical teams to decide on how best they can contribute and commit to achieve the organizational goal. Managers and supervisors are tasked with ensuring all employees are engaged in working towards the organizational goal, keeping them committed and feeling essential to the accomplishment of that goal.

An important part of the Hoshin Kanri method is the ‘catch all’ step – where information is passed back and forth with senior management to ensure that the tactics and results continue to stay aligned with the organizational goal. Known as ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act,’ this allows there to be flexibility and adaptability in the tactics to improve the processes.

Overall, the benefit of Hoshin Kanri is aligning every member of an organization to share the ultimate organizational goal and work towards it together eliminating wasted time, money, and resources to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its processes. The continuous use of Hoshin Kanri within a business can contribute to a sustainable leanness within the business, rather than a short-term action plan.