I've implemented personally, helped others implement, and watched others implement the tools of Lean for two decades. I have many success stories of the tools of Lean driving really great improvements. Unfortunately, like others, I've also seen a lot of successes fall to pieces after an extended period of time. Why? Because we missed something. We missed the part where you engage the entire workforce and transform the organization into an environment of controlled and continual improvement. My "go-to" for changing that? Hoshin Kanri.
Hoshin Kanri is commonly referred to as Policy Deployment in America. Roughly translated, hoshin means “direction needle" and kanri means "control logic". It is a planning method that captures and cements strategic goals and actions and combines them with the means to make those goals achievable. Hoshin Kanri is a systematic and disciplined process to align, communicate, and execute business strategy by focusing on those vital few breakthrough objectives that give you sustainable improvement. It is one of the best methods I've used for driving culture change. Hoshin Kanri:
· Insures the entire organization is working on the right things
· Uses a simple one-page document to manage efforts
· Creates meaningful metrics with accountability for reaching targets
In a nutshell, it uses a tool called the X-matrix to plan, prioritize, organize and drive company wide improvements that all align to the company's top strategic goals. It keeps everyone throughout the organization focused and engaged on what really matters.
1. Establish / reaffirm the organization's mission and vision
2. Develop 3-5 year breakthrough objectives and constraints
3. Develop annual objectives and constraints
4. Engage employees to exploit constraints
5. Assign responsibility
6. Develop measurements
7. Implement standard work for leaders
8. Develop visual controls
9. Implement accountability cycles
10. Review for progress and need for change
This process mixes the basic concepts of Hoshin Kanri and the Theory of Constraints and uses the X-Matrix to control the process. From Hoshin Kanri, the use of a method called catch-ball is utilized during the process to engage the workforce and create drive and buy in from all levels of the organization. From Theory of Constraints, the idea of identifying constraints is borrowed so that focus is placed on those activities that will positively affect the entire system versus local areas only. Standard work for leaders, visual controls and accountability cycles are utilized so that abnormal is easily identified and improvements are sustained. And finally, review of progress insures that plans are intact and that changes in the organization or the environment are captured and flowed back into the process.
Hoshin Kanri, when applied in this manner, is one of the most powerful methods for engaging the workforce and creating the culture change needed in order to create a prioritized plan for improvement and a sustainable environment of positive change within the organization. Without it, your improvements may not being giving you the impact your organization deserves.