As we enter the fall months, businesses are beginning to wind down on this year’s activities and starting to think about next year’s plans, the budgeting process, forecasting sales, etc. With this timing in mind I wanted to encourage you to consider implementing Hoshin Planning as your Strategy Deployment process.

Before we dive into how it can help your business, let’s briefly discuss Hoshin Planning’s process. The Hoshin Planning process consists of three phases: Planning, Implementation & Review; each phase consists of several steps. Here is a summary:

•Planning: In this phase the organization generates long/medium term objectives (3-5 years typically) for specific measures at the business or enterprise level. Some of the most common are revenue, market share, and/or profit, however, these measures are not limited to financial performance. Understanding the voice of the customer is key to generating long/medium term objectives. These objectives are supported by annual strategies, and improvement initiatives. Each initiative is assigned an owner. A few key metrics are selected to monitor the progress and success of these improvement priorities. In addition, there is a cascading step, called catchball, which leads to engaging all levels within the organization. Finally, baseline and targets are agreed upon and the planning phase is completed.
•Implementation: This phase consists of creating and implementing a plan that will achieve the improvement initiative. Here is where the Lean tools start to make their way into the strategic planning process. Tools such as Value Stream Mapping will help create action plans. I do recommend focusing on quarterly priorities, as opposed to the entire years priorities.
•Review: Certain checks and balances are created in order to stay proactive. As most of us know, we begin with a plan but things are bound to happen throughout. These checks and balances are monthly reviews in which the metrics selected during the planning phase are reported and countermeasures are generated when gaps are identified. In addition, implementation updates are provided by the initiative owner. Finally, an annual review of the entire process will help in self-reflection and finding ways to improve the process.

Here is a useful template for managing the Hoshin Planning Process. During the Hoshin Planning process it is very common to use A3s as a method to communicate plans, and updates. Here is an Infographic that explains the anatomy of an A3.

Now that we have a better understanding of the process, let’s talk about five ways Hoshin Planning can help improve your business:

1. Answer the question: Where are we going? When working with organizations is very common to learn that employees are oblivious to management’s long term plans. Hoshin’s engaging process will help bring visibility to your plans.
2.Alignment of activities: As a manager myself, whenever I wasn’t given direction as to priorities, I would work on those things I found most critical to success. What if I was working on the wrong thing from an enterprise level perspective? Hoshin helps create alignment among your team so that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
3.Learn from your experiences: Hoshin’s reflection phase helps us engage in a self-discovery of gaps in our execution of Strategic Planning. As organizations become better at this process, they gain more control of the future of the business.
4.Impact your culture: The more clear and transparent we are, the sooner employees understand improvement is not about trying to cut jobs but about growth. Employees being key stakeholders will feel a sense of belonging when you include them in the Strategic Planning process. Needless to say, this will foster a culture of collaboration.
5.Create a Lean-Thinking workforce: As employees learn the tools, and they have visibility to the objectives, they will begin to identify and eliminate problems getting in the way of achieving your improvement initiatives.

These are some of the ways Hoshin can help your business. Please share your experiences with Hoshin in the comments section.

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