Be strategic about your success with Hoshin Kanri X Matrix

Hoshin Kanri is a planning method within Lean that helps you realize your strategic goals. Directly translated from Japanese, Hoshin means “direction” and Kanri means “management”. The meaning of the words is reflected in the purpose of the model, which is to allow a business’s goals to manage its direction.

Imagine a company culture where norms are continually being challenged, leading to levels of success that no one thought possible. A culture where managers and team members are involved in company strategy, lifting the business to new heights. A culture where the realization of innovative ideas is an everyday occurrence. You can achieve all that and more with Hoshin Kanri.

What is Hoshin Kanri?

Hoshin Kanri is one of the most powerful concepts within Lean. It represents a strategy-planning system that equips team leaders with the tools they need to streamline management, prioritize tasks and identify goals. In other words, Hoshin Kanri helps you, as a leader, bridge the gap between strategy and implementation, bring clarity to strategic challenges, build trust, and, most important of all, ensure that every single person in the organization is striving towards the same goal.

The Hoshin Kanri method can be summarized in a simple 7-step process, also known as Hoshin Planning or policy deployment:

  1. It all starts with senior management developing a strong vision that answers the question, “What is the purpose of our company?”.

  2. Senior management then defines a mission with clear objectives. Every objective is important and requires the involvement of all employees.

  3. Next, value-stream and business unit managers break the objectives down into clearly defined annual goals together with senior management.

  4. Once the yearly goals have been set, it is time to deploy those goals across all levels of the organization. 

  5. The next step is executing the plans, which ties in with the following two steps. 

  6. By conducting monthly reviews, you ensure that plans are being executed correctly.

  7. In the seventh and final step, a year-end review is conducted to validate the results. 

Hoshin Kanri Catchball

Communication and brainstorming are two fundamental aspects of Hoshin Kanri. The process is based on effective collaboration between management and employees whereby the two align on common goals. A key driver of Hoshin Kanri is to create a culture where everyone feels they play an active role. Motivation is increased and the negative impact of micromanagement on teams and individuals is removed. Additionally, by discussing, reflecting and the exchange of ideas, the approach will also become more deliberate, which is the foundation of so-called Hoshin Kanri “Catchball”.

You’ve sold me. How do I get started?

The most common and effective way to implement Hoshin Kanri is to use the planning tool, X Matrix, which typically looks like this:

Hoshin Kanri X-matrix

X Matrix allows you to map out all your company’s strategic goals on a single sheet. The format makes it easy to establish a clear path that takes you from general goals to concrete action, while also letting you easily measure progress and visualize how each step relates to the next.  Simply put, this is an excellent alternative to endless, mundane business plans. The name of the tool comes from the X that divides the matrix into four sections and steps.

  1. Long-term objectives (south): The first step in Hoshin Kanri is to identify your organization’s long-term objectives and strategies (around 3-5 years ahead). Remember that every long-term objective is made up of many short-term objectives.

  2. Annual objectives (west): In the second step you list the objectives that you plan to accomplish on a yearly basis. It is important to prioritize the most important goals first.

  3. Prioritization of initiatives (north): In the third step, you agree on which initiatives have the highest priority in order to achieve your goals.

  4. Metrics to improve (east): The fourth step involves listing the metrics that should improve as a result of your initiatives. By measuring these, you can also follow up on the progress of different teams and make sure everyone is moving in the same direction. 

The final step of the X Matrix is marking the connections in each corner of the sheet to see how everything relates to each other. All of this is an important part of Kaizen and continuous improvement, which means it only gets better when combined with the PDCA and 5 Whys methods. Read more about continuous improvement here.

Digital template for Hoshin Kanri X Matrix in Mevisio

At Mevisio, we know how important it is for a company’s goals to be clearly visualized and for there to be a system that guides the steps necessary to achieve the company’s goals. Clear common goals combined with clear expectations of each individual creates a company culture of proactive engagement. You just have to light the spark to get the process and progress started. To streamline this, we’ve created a digital template for a Hoshin Kanri X Matrix on our boards. That way, everyone has access to an X Matrix. With an X Matrix, brainstorming becomes easier and everyone is continually reminded of the bigger picture and where the company is headed.

But it doesn’t end there! In Mevisio, you can also connect multiple tools to every part of the matrix, for example:

  • Dashboards with diagrams for each objective.

  • Responsibility matrices that show who is responsible for what and who needs to be involved and informed. 

  • Project overviews with timelines to plan when the various improvement initiatives should be initiated.

  • Activity planning within projects.

  • Status reporting of key figures, projects and activities.

  • Notifications of new or changed goals and activities. 

This information can also be compiled into a personal overview that combines all your responsibilities and activities on one page and links automatically to your X Matrix.

Want to get started with Mevisio? Book a demo here.

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