Businesses need to implement their strategic plans successfully in order to thrive. Therefore, companies often schedule regular discussions, documentation, predictions, planning, and more.
Then why are businesses still failing to achieve their goals? This is because all the discussion and documentations rarely result in action. It is very normal for businesses to have other
priorities for daily tasks, but in the long run, the strategic plans must be executed to grow and achieve goals.
Now, there is a methodology to overcome these issues and successfully execute the company's strategic plans. This is called Hoshin planning or Hoshin Kanri.
What is Hoshin planning and Why is it Essential?
The word Hoshin is derived from the two words “Ho” and “Shi”. “Ho” means direction and “Shi” means needle, these together form Hoshi that means a compass.
Hoshin planning is a lean management methodology that ensures that the key goals are communicated across the complete company and put into action. Toyota has been using Hoshin
Planning since the 1960s. Other companies using Hoshin Planning include HP and Xerox. The objective of this methodology is to eliminate or reduce the waste that leads to
inadequate management and lack of direction.
The ultimate objective of Hoshin Planning is to bring every employee from CEO to juniors on the same page to drive progress and action. It is highly effective as it allows
companies to focus on the long term as well as short term goals.
Catchball technique is a lean technique and a part of the Hoshin Kanri process. In this process, the ideas are passed up and down and back and forth in the company. This allows everyone
to get involved and contribute to the strategic planning of the company.
One of the major problems in companies is that the strategic decisions are made by the topmost people of the hierarchy without the involvement and opinions of the ones who will be
impacted by them or are going to work on them. As a result, many employees get displeased and there is a lack of coherence in the company. Hoshin planning aims to eliminate these
In the catch ball process, the upper management team creates some goals and tosses that ball to the other layers of the company. Where everyone analyses the goal and identifies
the potential roadblocks and comes up with ideas to accomplish those goals. Then the ball is again sent back to the top layer. This way the goals and accomplishment strategies
are propagated across the company, hence they accommodate the unique ideas, needs, and individual potential struggles as well.
How does the Hoshin Planning work?
1. Develop a company vision
In this step the vision and mission statements are recognised and defined by the leadership team. Here the existing policies and procedures are evaluated to map out the structure of management of the company. After this the long term goals are identified.
2. Develop 3-5 year plans
Break down the goals or improvements into 3-5 year plans. These are essential for meaningful and measurable growth. This step also includes the catch ball technique. Examples
Introducing a new product
Adopting a new technology
Expanding to new markets
3. Develop Annual Objectives
Having only open-ended 3-5 year objectives doesn’t work and there is a possibility of procrastination. Therefore the plans have to be divided into sizable manageable chunks of tasks. There is a need to clarify the objects and break them down into smaller stepwise tasks.
For example, if your goal is to introduce the new product, you will have to start with the market validation of the product. Then identify the target market, work on the solution, design the product, and so on.
These steps must be clear in order to move forward.
4. Assign the Objectives to Concerned Departments
After the annual goals have been identified, these need to be assigned to the concerned departments or teams. This will align all the employees to a single objective.
A detailed action plan is developed and everyone is assigned their individual work. A Hoshin Planning X Matrix can be used in this step to map out detailed action plans and assignments to designated employees.
Here is an example Hoshin Plan Matrix created using the Sigma Magic software. This Matrix can be used to chalk out the company's strategic plans.
This is the most important step, here the actionable steps are executed by different problem-solving approaches. The SCORE lean method is implemented and to quantitatively evaluate and prioritize tasks for execution. Then the actions are carried out.
6. Have regular monthly reviews
These reviews are done to evaluate the progress of teams working on the assigned goals. Problems and delays can be discussed upon and additional action steps or resources can be given to lagging departments. Here the roadblocks are identified in time and timely eliminated.
7. Have Annual Reviews
At the end of each year, the annual objectives must be analyzed. This is important to make a proper plan for the next year and find the best ways to catch up for unmet goals.
Challenges you might face while Implementing Hoshin Planning Process and How can you Overcome them
While the Hoshin Planning process is fairly simple there are a few common challenges you might face while using the technique.
No Involvement of Front Line Employees: It is extremely essential to engage front line employees for developing the strategic plan as they are the ones who regularly interact with the company’s customers and understand what exactly is going on with them. They get the primary information and hence they are the best people that can give opinions on customer satisfaction.
The Catchball technique must be carefully implemented and everyone must be involved in the discussion.
Poor Communication of the Strategic Plan: There can be instances where the plan might be made well but the leadership team was not able to fully explain the plan to the rest of the teams. Now this will be a hindrance to the success of the plan. Therefore effective and constant communication with a 2-way feedback loop is vital.
Infrequent Review and Reports: Hoshin Planning must be managed into the day-to-day tasks rather than waiting to get time to start working. Without regular reviews and evaluations, tasks might be delayed. Also, information transfer and feedback are essential steps throughout the process.
Misalignment of Goals and Objectives: When working towards a long term goal, close alignment of objectives and strategic plans are important. One must be constantly connected to the mission of the organization so that employee engagement and decision making do not suffer. All employees must have a clear understanding of the vision and goals to achieve them.
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