Getting people's goals aligned.
Imagine you're part of a fleet of personal aircraft traveling from various locations to one destination. Each individual pilot is responsible for getting to that destination.
Providing precise directions for each pilot isn't practical. There are too many starting points, and too many different delays, adverse weather conditions, and detours that pilots might encounter along the way. So you've all been given a sophisticated navigation device to keep you on course.
This navigation device will ensure that, even though each pilot is acting independently, they'll all arrive at the same endpoint.
The challenge faced by these pilots is much the same as the one faced by workers in many organizations. There's a strategic destination that they're all supposed to reach – however, they don't always have a convenient device like this to help them reach their objective.
Sometimes individuals, teams, and even whole departments can get so far off course that they seem not even to remember what the final destination was supposed to be!
This is where it's useful to have a system to co-ordinate different parts of your organization and keep them on course. One such system is "Hoshin Kanri."
Developed by the Japanese in the 1960s and '70s, Hoshin Kanri (also called the Hoshin Process) is a useful process for managing work towards a key strategic initiative (a hoshin). This approach aligns all parts of an organization to accomplish an important objective.
Hoshin Kanri is a system for strategic planning that:
This is most often a key strategic objective that needs a significant change in how things are done.
We don't cover the development of these strategic objectives in this article. See the strategy section for these tools.
Record these, and use them as the basis for your review process.
Are your key metrics being met? If not, why?
Create a review table that shows the:
Then use this table to manage movement towards these goals on an ongoing basis.
This "check" step ensures that your plan is a living document. It doesn't just sit on a shelf to collect dust once it's finished. Hoshin planning is based on the idea that to reach your strategic goals, the company needs to be in a constant state of reflection and evaluation.
If there are any differences between expected and actual results, identify the sources of those differences. Discuss these, organize corrective action, and implement this action.
This stage of the process ensures a system of continuous improvement. To keep moving the company toward its vision, review the plans not just once a year, but on an ongoing basis to determine how daily work should be done.
With this review (or act) step, you can ensure that plans continually evolve to take into account a changing environment.
This process can be cycled over and over to maximize the quality of your efforts. It can also be used within your various business units, functions, and teams to ensure that their specific strategies have the same goal alignment and commitment to continuous improvement.
A tightly controlled approach like this only suits certain situations and certain industries (see our article on Birkinshaw's Four Dimensions of Management for more on this). Use your best judgment when applying this tool to your own situation.
Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives (MBO) was very influential in developing Hoshin Kanri. The idea of various levels of organizational objectives, from management down to the workers, is a fundamental part of hoshin planning.
Hoshin planning creates a process whereby everyone in the organization knows the overall direction. It was developed to create a systematic process for aligning goals at all levels of the organization with strategic vision, so that the organization's strategy can be achieved.
Based on both Management by Objectives and the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, Hoshin planning is a powerful way to direct your organization's energy toward key performance outcomes.
The resulting process can keep strategic planning documents alive and ensure that differences between planned and actual results are addressed.
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