Hoshin kanri

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…a collective journey, program, product, or project, working hard. Yet the goal is nog clear, let alone the path that will take you there.

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A clear goal and a roadmap to get you there aligns forces, gives direction and focus.

hoshin kanri has its roots in the 1950s when lectures by Dr. Deming and Dr. Juran in Japan taught the Deming Wheel (PDCA Cycle) and the need to focus on management processes for continuous improvement, including both Breakthrough Management and Daily Management.

hoshin kanri is an organising framework for strategic management. It is concerned with four primary tasks:

  • it focuses organisation attention on corporate direction by setting, annually, a vital few strategic priorities;
  • it aligns these with local plans and programmes;
  • it integrates them with daily management, and
  • it provides for a structured review of their progress.

It became a more formal process within Japanese companies during the 1960s and 1970s. Utilizing forms, clear accountability, and review meetings structured many management processes.

More and more companies recognized its value over the 30 years of refinement. Today, The Toyota Way resonates well with the practices of Agile Software Development. Joined with holacratic principles, government and practices it grows into a very effective leadership instrument.

hoshin kanri is part of the management process that helps to align the organization toward the most important strategic goals.

There is only surface understanding of hoshin kanri. Many of the enthusiasts of Toyota Production System (TPS) tools know something about kaizen events, implementing standardized work or pull systems, but hoshin kanri is often a lessunderstood term on the list, or is a chapter in a book on Lean or TPS that is glossed over.

After all, many companies start their lean journey with kaizen events without a real strategic direction. They might have incorporated some of the "tools" into their implementation efforts, but you don't often hear someone say they conducted a "Hoshin Kaizen".

Interestingly, you don't have to be using TPS principles or implementing Lean or Six Sigma to use hoshin kanri, as the process is one that provides structure to strategy execution independent of choice of methods used to execute.

Hoshin means “compass, or pointing the direction,” and Kanri means “management or control”. Combined, these two words show that hoshin kanri is essentially the process for Strategic Direction Setting.

One of the interesting parts of a Hoshin Sheet is the fact that you can provide in such a management compass on a comprehensive single sheet of paper.


Collect both strategic, tactical and operational information in a SMART way on a single A3.

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