One thing that we like to remind our clients who are implementing the Hoshin Kanri method of strategy deployment is that most of your employees have probably been through strategic planning exercises before.
Even more likely, they’ve probably watched management go through an annual planning drill and then present the scheme to the rest of the organization like Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments.
That means that the first order of business needs to be convincing the team that this is an entirely different approach that will have a meaningful impact on how work gets done. For that reason, it is necessary to have a solid plan for introducing Hoshin Kanri to the organization.
Here are a few of the things that we’ve seen work very well.
Start with Questions
You know some common questions will inevitably be in the minds of your employees, so get them out of the way early. Be prepared to answer:
What is Hoshin Kanri? – We think it is smart to give some background about how Hoshin Kanri evolved and how it is used in other successful organizations. This is particularly important if you are using the technique outside of the Lean or Six Sigma framework.
Why is it right for our organization? – People will more readily embrace change (and don’t minimize the fact that Hoshin Kanri represents change) if they understand the reasons for it. The driver for strategy deployment is different for every company, but common reasons include better alignment, market events that necessitate a new approach, or disappointing past results.
What are the relevant roles and responsibilities? – Another way to frame this question might be, “What will it mean to me.” The more specific you can be about how Hoshin planning will impact each department, team, and individual, the better.
Facilitate an In-depth Discussion about True North
Help people understand the benefits for your organization, each employee, and your customers of achieving your strategic objectives. Be very clear about what success looks like and paint a vision of the future in which the game-changing goals have been realized. Give insight into how progress toward True North will be tracked and how everyone will know that you are on track.
Introduce the 5 Principles of Hoshin Kanri
The guiding principles of Hoshin Kanri set it apart from more common annual planning methods.
Communicated Objectives – Multiple studies have found that employees thrive when they understand the goals of the organization and are very clear how they can contribute.
Current State Analysis – Hoshin planers know that you can’t arrive at your destination without first knowing exactly where you are. Before any elements of the strategic plan are implemented, an unflinching look at the current state is required.
Widespread Engagement – Perhaps the thing that differentiates the Hoshin Kanri process from other planning tools more than anything is the expectation that every person will be involved in strategic planning and execution.
Resource Prioritization – All organizations have a limited amount of human and financial resources. That means that when tough decisions are necessary, the Hoshin plan will guide decision-making in furtherance of the most important strategic goals.
Performance Insight – Organizations that successfully implement Hoshin Kanri are very good at tracking their progress toward goals and making insight into key performance metrics widely available.
Familiarize the Team with the Tools
Once the Hoshin planning process is well understood, it is time to introduce the tools you will use to support it. Often, this involves a software platform that will become the repository for all related documentation, communications, and projects. Other tools that might be used include the Catchball technique for objective setting and problem solving and the A3 method of project management.
Set a Cadence for Communication
The Hoshin plan should be something that is top of mind and part of day-to-day work and decision making, but even so, there should be regular intervals for reporting and discussion. Being clear about when that communication should be expected helps set employee expectations and increases accountability on the part of leadership.
One final bit of advice, define the process for employees to ask additional questions about Hoshin Kanri as they come up. You might have a point person on the management team, or it may make more sense for people to go to their direct supervisor, but either way, it is vital that people feel comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. That’s the key to engagement and long-lasting enthusiasm.