KaiNexus is pretty lucky in that it has a staff of amazingly talented and knowledgeable individuals. Our Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services, Mark Graban, is certainly no exception. Graban has over 20 years of experience practicing Lean both in manufacturing and in healthcare, is the author of several books including Lean Hospitals, and is the founder of LeanBlog.org. Recently Jeff Roussel, Vice-President of Sales for KaiNexus, hosted a webinar wherein Graban shared some of his experience and knowledge about Strategy Deployment. You can watch that full webinar, titled Everything You Need to Know About Strategy Deployment, here.
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Graban started the webinar off with a caution against viewing Lean as just a set of tools in the process improvement toolbox. Lean tools - 5S, A3s, Kanban, Value Stream Maps, and so on - are just the tip of the iceberg in a Lean culture. The larger part of the iceberg - the part that’s submerged - deals with mindset.
“The things that are harder to see on a quick tour, or a quick visit - the management system, the philosophy, the culture, the way of thinking, the mindsets - when we understand those and we see how the mindsets lead to the use of tools, and to the proper use of tools,” Graban said. “There’s a risk with any Lean methods, and this would include Strategy Deployment, we could use the mechanics of the method without really getting the gist of it.”
While there is a lack of standardized terminology around the Strategy Deployment methodology (aka Hoshin Kanri, Policy Deployment, or Hoshin Planning), Graban described it as a process for embedding strategy and aligning an organization toward common goals.
Graban explained that over the past couple of years he has come to think about Strategy Deployment as a series of hypotheses, or an organizational Plan, Do, Study, Adjust (PDSA)-cycle that thinks long-term.
“PDSA poses a hypothesis, here’s what we think the scenario is, here’s what we think is going to happen. And when we pose the hypothesis we check the results; we plan, we do, we study, we adjust,” Graban explained. “This is how executives can practice what they preach, or lead by example - by forming hypotheses.”
Early in the webinar Graban pointed out just how different this process is to the old Management By Objectives (MBO) method, also known as goal deployment or policy deployment.
“MBO was typically a top-down, unidirectional approach. Executives come up with strategy and they push it down or communicate it down in the organization. It’s often used as a threat to improve performance.” Graban said. “But Strategy Deployment uses a process called ‘Catchball.’ As with other aspects of Lean management, it’s not just a top-down process, where goals flow down.”
Graban outlined four key hypotheses for Strategy Deployment:
If we focus our improvement efforts and close performance gaps in these four (or five) areas, we will, therefore, perform well as an organization, this year and over the long-term.
This hypothesis is about having four or five True North categories that are right for your organization, and that can be tracked, tested, and evolve over time.
If we can improve and close our performance gaps in these key performance indicators, we will satisfy our need for improvement in our key focus areas and therefore we will be successful as an organization overall.
The second hypothesis is about choosing the right metrics and performance gaps that matter.
If we actually execute and complete these top X initiatives, projects, events, and A3s, then we will make the greatest strides toward closing the key performance gaps (from Hypothesis #2) and therefore we’ll be more successful in our strategy.
Hypothesis three is about choosing the right initiatives, or what you might call the means to improvement.
We actually have the organizational capacity to complete these X top priorities in a year or a given timeframe (and with the right quality).
The final hypothesis is about making sure the organization has the right capacity to execute its priorities.
After Graban finished presenting and explaining these hypotheses using examples, he handed the presentation over to Jeff Roussel who then demonstrated how a software like KaiNexus helps organizations create better alignment and provide visibility into the goals and into progress with Strategy Deployment.
Roussel added that part of that mission in rolling out Strategy Deployment involves engaging employees at the front lines and helping to facilitate the daily continuous improvement efforts at that level. Another part is to help organizations manage and collaborate around their larger projects, events, and classes that filter down from their strategic goals. In this way, KaiNexus helps organizations make better decisions that are based on their progress towards their goals.
Roussel then gave a brief demonstration of how KaiNexus can be used to organize and visualize what’s happening in the organization. The demonstration included a look at how digital boards help you to see at a glance can see what is being worked on and the status of all those strategic projects, allowing managers to drill down and get involved if need be. Roussel also showed an example Strategy Deployment board, which can be used to show the key metrics visually so that people can see progress as it happens.
To get the full demonstration, as well as Graban’s full description and discussion of Strategy Deployment, please check out the Everything You Need to Know About Strategy Deployment webinar here.