Years back, Fortune Magazine found that 80% of Fortune 500 companies use some sort of strategic planning approach. But it also found that when a company fails, 70% of the time it wasn’t because of bad strategy—it was due to bad execution.
Hoshin planning can help mitigate that risk.
Creating a vision is easy, but implementing it is far more difficult. Hoshin Kanri planning is a strategic planning method—derived from Japanese traditions and developed in the ‘60s and ‘70s—that helps organizations with issues and enables them to more easily connect their strategy to execution.
There are four critical aspects of the Hoshin planning template, which are found in the “X” (see example above):
To the north are your action items or “top-level improvement priorities”: These make up the high-level to-do list for your team. In other words, they are the top priorities to achieve over the next few months.
To the east are your action programs, initiatives, or “targets to improve”: Your initiatives will help you take the next step toward where you want to be at the end of the year and, ultimately, at the end of five years. Different teams may have different targets to improve upon and may want to focus on something that is important to their team’s objectives. But keep in mind, some team members may become frustrated during this process if their project isn’t deemed necessary to the Hoshin planning process. That’s where the Hoshin-specific concept of “catchball” becomes important. (Check out this article if you’re unfamiliar with the term.)
To the west are your measures or “annual objectives”: Three to five years is pretty far away—and it can be easy to let a year or so go without doing much to help with your five-year plan. Hoshin planning helps you break down your big objectives into yearly outcomes for your teams. To create these, you’ll want to consider what you need to accomplish first to keep you on track—and then build out from there. Perhaps one of your breakthrough objectives is to achieve a certain number of sales in five years—that means your annual number may be a fifth of that (or whatever number your organization thinks is achievable for year one).
To the south are your “breakthrough objectives”: These are major, top-level goals that the senior leadership team has created. All of your annual objectives, targets, and action items should stack on top of one another to help you reach these lofty organizational objectives.
In summary, your Hoshin matrix is essentially a one-page visual of your objectives, measures and targets, measure programs, and action items. All four of the quadrants below feed each other and show alignment between the different elements. Demonstrating your strategic alignment is essential to ensuring everyone stays on the same page and is a key differentiator between Hoshin and other planning frameworks.
Hoshin Planning May Be Right For You If...
You’re dealing with really long lead times before you see any kind of improvement.
Your vision doesn’t align very well with the activities you have going on at the organization.
You need to ensure that come January, your annual goals are clear and ready to go. A lot of organizations don’t have their annual goals available until March or April, which is over a quarter of the way through the year.
You need to better connect your year-to-year plans. If you have a 3-5 year vision, you need to be able to break it up into yearly plans that build on each other. So if you are missing the clear link between your five year and one year plans, Hoshin planning can be a big help.
You have too many projects that aren’t delivering well. Hoshin planning can help you “trim the fat” and get to the exact projects that are important and necessary to your short- and long-term goals.
A Final Word Of Advice
There are myriad approaches to managing and executing your strategy, and they all have benefits and considerations to keep in mind. But the most important thing to do is select one and stick with it—not use a “frankenstein” approach that pieces together a strategy from many different systems. Pick what is best for you and get started as quickly as possible!
Vice President of Customer Success & Rochesterian
Joseph is the Vice President of Customer Success at ClearPoint