Harnessing the Power of Hoshin Kanri
Without goals, how do you know where you stand? How do you know if you’re improving? Goal setting is an important concept for continuous improvement, and it’s the focus of Hoskin Kanri — a specialized segment of the greater lean manufacturing ideology. But more than setting goals, your factory needs to communicate, embrace, and internalize these goals. That’s where Hoshin Kanri comes in.
What is Hoshin Kanri?
Hoshin Kanri is one of the many terms in the arsenal of lean manufacturing terminology. Roughly translated, it means “policy deployment,” but the concept itself encompasses so much more than policy. Hoshin Kanri is about using goals to deploy initiatives that incite the action required to meet those goals.
A successful Hoshin Kanri approach addresses three tenets across the three levels of a company:
- Corporate strategic goals
- Mid-level tactics to drive progress
- Operational work performed
Goals drive tactics, which fuel operations — which eventually leads to results used to reevaluate, reset, and expand goals.
The 7 steps of Hoshin Kanri
Hoshin Kanri is first and foremost a mentality. It’s about setting goals and using those goals to identify the action necessary to achieve them. But there’s also a deployment aspect. There’s a systemic mode of implementation indicative of this deployment process, defined by seven key steps:
1. Establish the vision. What are your business objectives?
2. Establish breakthrough objectives. What do you need to achieve?
3. Develop annual objectives. What can you do this year?
4. Deploy annual objectives. How are you going to meet your annual goals?
5. Implement annual objectives. What operational drivers do you need?
6. Monthly review. Are you on track to meet your annual goals?
7. Annual review. Did you meet your goals this year? Why or why not?
The beauty of Hoshin Kanri is that every objective becomes defined. You could say that your business objective is “to change the world,” or “to produce products with an error rate of less than 1%.” No matter how lofty, ill-defined, or half-formed an idea, Hoshin Kanri forces a business to distill it down into action.
The catchball aspect
The power of Hoshin Kanri comes from something called the “catchball.” This occurs in Steps 1-4 of the cycle. It forces the C-suite to collaborate with middle management to determine what’s needed to reach objectives. The idea is to prevent demotivation, errors, and stat-padding, and instead reinforce the vision and execution plan. Instead of fulfilling goals employees don’t understand with limited information, the catchball aspect of Hoshin Kanri ensures that those making the goals and those driving the action are on the same page.
A true-to-form lean concept
Executed correctly, Hoshin Kanri does what every major lean philosophy does: reinforces continuous improvement. When proper goal setting drives informed action, better results can drive more informed goal setting. This plan, do, check, act (PDCA) concept is present across lean methodologies and is critical for success.
Like most lean terms, Hoshin Kanri is a complex name for a very simple idea. It’s about careful goal setting and collaborative buy-in from the top down and the bottom up. In a Hoshin Kanri cycle, everyone has the same information, working toward the same goal, with the same objectives.