Strategic Planning | Kanban Zone

Every year companies set a significant amount of time planning their goals and objectives. But how much of these plans are successfully carried out? How do businesses measure success? There are various planning methods and strategies that businesses can use. But one thing’s for sure. Coming up with a plan is one thing. Executing the plan is another. Successful execution depends on the clarity of the plan, how well it’s communicated, and how deeply aligned all contributors and plan actors are. This is why businesses need a plan that does not only look great on paper. They need a plan that’s clear on what needs to be achieved and how it can be achieved. Not only that but they need a plan that everyone in the organization will support. One of the strategic planning methods that will help businesses deliver clear and quality plans is Hoshin Kanri Planning. 

Hoshin Planning is Strategic Planning

In our Hoshin Kanri resource page, we discussed what this planning method is about and how to implement it. In a nutshell, Hoshin Kanri is a Lean management method that is designed to provide a framework for businesses to perform strategic planning. The Hoshin Kanri planning design enables leaders to break down long-term business goals into actionable activities. Doing this allows the organization to achieve its goals incrementally. This also ensures that all activities that the company exerts efforts are in support of their long-term goals. 

With Hoshin Kanri Planning, companies are pushed to have a macro and micro perspective when doing strategic planning. This is supported by the hierarchical relationship on goals and objectives as they cascade from one organizational level to another. Another strength of the Hoshin Kanri method is that it pushes a collective approach to planning. Unlike other planning methods that are solely done by management, using Hoshin Kanri involves all levels in the organization. This is achieved through a method called Catchball. Ideas are passed between employees and managers until a consensus is reached. All inputs and ideas are incorporated in the final plan and this is what everyone executes.

Benefits of Hoshin Kanri Planning

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The Hoshin Kanri Planning method is more than just a planning tool. It’s an effective medium to communicate organizational goals, collaborate on how to reach those goals, so everyone can all work towards the objectives that management has set. Here are some of the benefits when using Hoshin Kanri Planning.

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Establishes Alignment of Operational Activities to Organizational Vision, Goals and Objectives

Hoshin Kanri starts with establishing your organization’s vision and making it clear what that vision is. Your goals and objectives need to roll-up to a common vision. Otherwise, why would your company spend time, money, and resources on doing something that doesn’t support your vision? Your vision is your true north and the compass that guides your every step. 

Encourages Commitment and Buy-in at All Levels

The Hoshin Kanri method is popular for one of its techniques called catchball. When you involve people in the decision-making and design of the plan, it’s easier for them to rally behind it and push for it to become a reality. It solidifies the team’s commitment to the plan. 

Makes Plans that are Both Strategic and Tactical

When doing Hoshin Kanri Planning, high-level goals and objectives are broken down to actionable tasks and activities. These are planned and assigned at each level in the organization’s hierarchy. Having a holistic view of planning and execution makes it an effective strategic and tactical planning tool. Rather than throwing a bunch of numbers and vague targets, using Hoshin Kanri allows businesses to be more intentional and specific about what needs to be achieved and how to achieve it.

Empowers Employees and Increases Ownership

Not only does involving employees in the decision-making and planning process encourage commitment and buy-in. It also empowers them and increases their sense of ownership towards the business. When they are allowed to become active contributors to charting the path for the business, you can expect your employees to be more productive and perform better. This will make them feel engaged and fully connected to their teams and the organization as a whole. 

Facilitates Easier Prioritization and Decision-Making

Using Hoshin Kanri enables the organization to create the ultimate list of the company’s priorities. When it’s not clear what the company’s priorities are, employees won’t easily understand why some projects are given more attention than others. Not only does this result in conflict or frustration but it can also hamper fast decision-making. A clear set of goals and objectives makes it easier for leaders and their employees to prioritize the work and prevents indecision that can slow down progress.

Constant Communication Leads to Continuous Improvement

The Hoshin Kanri planning method ensures feedback loops are established in the process. Monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews allow teams to track their progress against the target goals and objectives. If there are gaps between where they are and where they should be, it’s faster for the team to adjust and pivot when needed. The regular reviews also serve as checkpoints for teams to see how they can improve moving forward. 

Putting the Hoshin Kanri Strategy to Action

Doing Hoshin Kanri is not a one-time project. It’s an ongoing endeavor. A plan is only a plan until it gets implemented. Hoshin Kanri provides a holistic framework for planning and execution. This is done by aligning goals and objectives to your company’s vision and then aligning your company’s projects, initiatives, and activities towards achieving those goals. Hoshin Kanri is all about alignment in all aspects of the organization, especially among your people. It is your employees who will implement the plan. It is your employees who will see the plan to its fruition. Doing Hoshin Kanri means taking an active role in involving your employees to decide, design, and deploy your plans. 

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About the Author: Lena Boiser

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Lena Boiser is an Agile enthusiast. Starting off her career as a Software Business Analyst in 2010, she eventually performed other roles including Project Manager and IT Business Manager. When she was immersed in Agile methodologies in 2014, Lena found her way through honing her craft and eventually became a Certified Scrum Product Owner. In 2017, after 7 years of working in the corporate world, Lena started her own remote consulting practice. Today, she provides project management and Scrum Product Ownership services to various businesses including software development companies, e-Commerce business owners, and small to medium sized companies. She believes that even teams working remotely can harness the benefits of Agile in order to deliver results for their companies. In her free time she likes to write. One day she could be writing about Agile, the next she could be writing anything about fashion or travel.